ARBOC’s fully-accessible Spirit of Equess becomes the first and only medium-duty transit bus to complete FTA Altoona Testing

ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, LLC, a U.S. subsidiary of NFI Group Inc. (NFI), the largest transit bus and motor coach manufacturer in North America, today announced its Spirit of Equess® the industry’s first and only medium-duty, purpose-built transit bus, has passed the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Model Bus Testing Program at Altoona, Pennsylvania.

With its successful completion, the Spirit of Equess® becomes the first and only medium-duty transit bus to complete Altoona Testing, which thoroughly assesses the dependability of all new bus models for use in federally funded public transit systems procurement. This follows recent NFI subsidiary breakthroughs, where Motor Coach Industries (MCI) announced its all-new, fully-accessible MCI D45 CRT LE completed Altoona Testing; and where the New Flyer of America Inc. sixty-foot articulated heavy-duty transit bus became the first and only sixty-foot battery-electric bus to complete FTA’s Altoona Testing.

The Equess underwent seven months of testing, simulating a ten-year, 350,000-mile service life. According to Barry Hines, Vice President of Engineering, ARBOC, it was set for slightly under the model’s full Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,000 lbs. to equal a real-life load of seated and standing passengers.

The Spirit of Equess® is ARBOC’s medium-duty, low-floor transit and shuttle bus constructed on a purpose-built ARBOC chassis. While the bus is a new concept, it was constructed using industry-proven methods.

“We anticipated positive results because the model was designed using our tried-and-true bolt-and-bond construction technique,” Hines said. “The Equess passed its durability tests with no major issues.”

With the launch of the fully-accessible Spirit of Mobility® in 2008, ARBOC’s long, successful history with the Altoona program began. Today, ARBOC manufactures five different products with numerous variants, all either having successfully completed Altoona Testing or having received an official waiver from the FTA.

The Altoona test on the Equess began in January of 2018 and concluded in August. ARBOC plans to return to the test track both thirty-five foot and electric alternatives of the new design.

“We are proud of the hard work our team put into this project and are pleased with the score it received at Altoona,” Don Roberts, president at ARBOC, said.

The ADA- and Buy America-compliant ARBOC Spirit of Equess, currently available in diesel or compressed natural gas propulsions, offers many of the capabilities of a heavy-duty bus, but retains all the benefits of a mid-level vehicle. The air-suspension system allows the bus to “kneel” 3.5 inches, creating a 1:8 ramp slope that can easily be maneuvered by passengers using mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or power scooters. The Equess also offers a removable rear engine cradle that provides easy maintenance access for service needs.

ARBOC has been innovating accessible transit for North Americans since 2008. The company estimates that nearly 70 percent of North America’s low-floor cutaway buses are manufactured by ARBOC.

NFI has nearly 90 years of experience manufacturing buses and coaches. It is the only provider of full suite bus solutions in North America, offering transit, motorcoach and low-floor cutaway buses.