On August 26th, 2009, members of the NYCTRC and the disabled community were invited by New York City Transit to tour a new environmentally friendly bus manufactured by DesignLine of Charlotte, NC. This new bus, the ECO Saver IV, is a hybrid electric 42-footer that’s much quieter and has lower emissions than other buses. It is being rolled out in a pilot program on 42nd Street in Manhattan (M42).
While the energy efficient features of this bus are laudable, the interior seating arrangement and proportions posed problems for people who went through. At left it can be seen that with the two wheelchair spaces occupied the aisle becomes uncomfortably narrow. NYCTRC members Edith Prentiss (right) and Trudy Mason (center) discuss the challenge of someone trying to pass through, especially if they are carrying bags or a baby stroller.
Another feature that presented a problem was the high step at the back door. Council member Trudy Mason pointed out that often the buses cannot make the curb and riders must take a long step down onto the street. If the rider is carrying packages or a child, then the disembarkment becomes even more difficult.
Other issues were the rather high two steps into the rear section of the bus and the low head room over the seats there.
The NYCTRC will continue to monitor the program and press for changes to the interior to better serve the riders, particularly those with disabilities.
It should be noted, too, that visually impaired riders actually do not like the quiet buses. They rely on the noise of the motor to alert them to the presence of the bus.