School bus now available on Ford Transit platform (with related video)
Blue Bird is the first manufacturer to build a production Type A school bus on the new Ford Transit cutaway chassis. The company chose the Transit platform for its Micro Bird T-Series due to its fuel economy, payload capabilities and product breadth.
The T-Series is available in a choice of two wheelbases, with capacities ranging from nine to 25 passengers and as much as 10,360 pounds. The T-Series is available in school bus, Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV), Multi-Function School Activity Bus (MFSAB) and commercial configurations. Production is underway, with buses already on dealer lots.
Ford introduced the Transit family of vehicles in June 2015. Transit is available in van, wagon, cutaway and chassis cab models, with a total of 47 configurations available from the factory.
“Transit’s lower chassis weight and better payload distribution allow us to provide our customers with increased passenger capacities, while at the same time reducing fuel consumption,” explains Steve Girardin, president and CEO of Micro Bird, Inc. He says the line also offers safety improvements through improved driver ergonomics and visibility of the student-loading zone.
“School bus builders have relied on the Ford E-Series family for decades, and we are continuing to offer all of those popular models. The Transit cutaway is a great addition to the Ford school bus chassis line-up,” says Dennis Bearden, RV and pool account manager, North American Fleet, Lease and Remarketing Operations at Ford Motor Co. He says the new line gives manufacturers a flexible and rugged base for building smaller, more-efficient Type A school buses and multi-function school activity buses. In the photo to the left, see the driver’s view from the Transit school bus.
The new line offers school bus builders the power of choice. They can choose from three wheelbases, a gasoline or diesel engine, and single or dual wheels. The Transit cutaway can be equipped with the school bus body builder prep package designed for school bus manufacturers or the MFSAB Body Builder Prep Package. The prep packages include banded tinted front door glass, dual heavy-duty batteries, a heavy-duty alternator, front license plate bracket, auxiliary fuse panel, auxiliary heater/AC prep package, right-hand door delete and school bus yellow paint.
There are three Ford engines to choose from: 3.2L I-5 Power Stroke diesel, 3.7L Ti-VCT V6, or 3.5L EcoBoost V6. The 3.7L V6 engine is available with a CNG/propane gaseous engine prep package to enable conversion to compressed natural gas (CNG) or propane. The 3.2L turbo diesel engine is B20-capable, so it can run on a mix of 80 percent diesel and 20 percent biodiesel fuel. A six-speed automatic transmission with SelectShift tow/haul mode is standard.
Transit features a unibody design and a lighter GVW than the Ford E-350 and E-450 cutaway chassis, which contributes to bus builders’ ability to provide higher payloads and improved fuel economy in a Type A bus. Transit also provides low entry for riders and good visibility for drivers.
In addition to Micro Bird, Ford also works with Collins Bus Corp., Thomas Built and Starcraft Bus. Ford Transit is made at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo.
In the video, get a behind-the-scenes look at Ford’s Transit Van production line.