FRISCO, Texas — Blue Bird Corp. and supplier partner HSM unveiled a convertible seating solution at the Transporting Students with Disabilities (TSD) Conference on Monday.
The convertible NextGen seat is designed to allow the customer to change the seat back frame to have a three-point or child-restraint seat without having to purchase new seats for reinstallation into a bus.
The seating option will be available for order for all Blue Bird and Micro Bird school buses starting this summer.
The seat back frame of the NextGen seat is secured by four bolts, which can be removed to replace the seat back with one of the other options offered, including three-point seat belt, three-point seat belt with child restraint, lap belt-ready, and child restraint only. The bottom cushion of the seat also tilts completely up, allowing the area under the seat to be more accessible.
The seats were also designed to take up less space. “Based on seat spacing tests, the new seats were able to increase the maximum passenger capacities on many bus configurations,” said Tony Everett, president and CEO of HSM's C.E. White Co. “Some bus configurations were able to fit up to six additional passengers, due to the space savings these seats provide.”
Comfort was a major factor when designing the new school bus seats. “Our goal for our new school bus seats was to offer best-in-class comfort for the students — and we’ve done just that,” said Dennis Whitaker, vice president of product development at Blue Bird Corp. “We’ve included an integrated headrest, a contoured seat back for enhanced knee clearance, and have lumbar support molded into the back panel. There is a noticeable difference in comfort when you sit in one of these convertible seats versus a traditional school bus seat.”
Steve Girardin, president of Micro Bird, also saw the value in offering the same seats in the Micro Bird line of products.
“Commonality of parts between Blue Bird and Micro Bird ultimately provides a better value for our customers,” Girardin said. “We believe that many customers will take advantage of the convertible seats, especially in Micro Bird buses, which are often used to transport younger children.”
The seats come with a standard three-year warranty on the foam, and a five-year warranty on the workmanship and seat frame paint.