The entry way into a conventional school bus is a challenge for bus manufacturers, drivers and passengers alike.
The conventional bus body height combined with the narrow entry area create steps that require a good deal of caution to navigate. While manufacturers provide handrails to assist, slips and falls are not uncommon.
The entry steps are in an extremely demanding environment, facing constant physical and environmental abuse.
Officials with flooring manufacturer Koroseal said that historically, the step surface has been covered with a rib material just like the center aisle of the bus. And like the aisle, the direction of the ribs on the steps is in the direction of travel. This provides a clear path for the operator/driver to clean the floor and the step well.
The direction of the rib can also reduce the amount of traction available to drivers and passengers entering and exiting the bus, according to Koroseal. This tradeoff — ease of cleaning versus slip resistance — has been a topic of discussion for many years and has resulted in new products being developed to provide both features.
Koroseal’s Pebble Tread has a non-directional raised pattern that provides an aggressive traction surface and still allows for ease of sweeping.
”The product has been in use for nearly 20 years, and bus drivers and school administrators report that it has significantly reduced slip and fall events,” said Jack Woodyard, Koroseal’s general manager of transit products.
The Koroseal product was the result of an extensive R&D program that evaluated the characteristics of a number of traction surfaces and construction techniques.
“What emerged is a product that provides superior slip resistance, and which survives the extreme wear and tear found in the school bus entry,” said Craig D. Sweet, marketing manager of transit products. “In the step well, dirt, sand, water, snow and ice, abrasion, and impact combine to attack the step tread covering and its backing.”
For these harsh conditions, the step tread covering and backing must be permanently bonded over 100 percent of their surface areas. This prevents separation of the components and the failure of the step tread while in service.
Step tread separation and failure create a serious safety hazard that results in the bus being taken out of service until replacement parts can be sourced and installed.
“Poorly engineered copies of the Koroseal Pebble Tread have found their way into the school bus market and are literally falling apart,” Woodyard said.
Woodyard and Sweet said that school bus buyers should be as detailed as possible in developing their specifications. While it was once adequate to specify “pebble type” step treads, they said it is now necessary to add additional specification details to ensure top quality of construction and safety.
For more information on Koroseal, call (800) 938-2858.