April 4, 2001

Establishment of Standard Specifications for Existing Non-Step Bus

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the Japan Auto-Body Industries Association (JABIA) have joined with the Nihon Bus Association (NBA) in an effort to draw up standard specifications for existing non-step buses, seeking to promote the proliferation of these buses on the strength of improved rider convenience, lower vehicle prices and other important advances.

With the need for greater barrier-free access in transportation against the backdrop of Japan's aging populace and other social developments, expectations are running high for the contribution to be made through greater use of non-step buses in the field of bus transportation.

However, while existing non-stop buses provide the merits of easier boarding and exiting, there are problems related to the fact that the vehicle design and structure are based on the structure of existing buses. Because of this, the increased cost of furnishing structures which cope with the occurrence of floor level gaps and slopes inside the vehicles, reduced rider convenience due to the fewer number of seats and other problems, as well as addressing the demands for different specifications from different bus operators, is a factor impeding the move toward greater introduction of these buses.

To resolve this situation, the "Panel to Study Creation of Standard Specifications for Non-Step Buses" was established inside the NBA in June of 2000. This Panel consists of representatives of JAMA, JABIA, NBA, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, as well as intellectuals of learning and experience. As its name implies, it has conducted studies on the feasibility of standard specifications for buses included in this genre.

The following is an outline of the standard specifications for existing non-step buses which have been draw up through these studies.

(1) Areas with a Heavy Impact on Changes in Body Structure

  • Fuel tank installation point ----------- Left side.
  • Door position ------------- Front, middle doors only.

(2) Elimination of Multiple-Type Specifications, Unification

  • Interior colors ---------- Ceiling cream, wainscot panels cream or gray.
  • Seat layout --------- Three patterns.
  • Ceiling layout ------ Standardized installation points for interior lamps, grab bars, other fixtures.

(3) Added Specifications Related to the Accessible and Usable Transportation Law

  • Sloped floor boards, wheelchair anchor fixtures, fixed belts, etc. ------- Set standards.
  • Installation point for vehicle exit button ------ Add to wheelchair space.

The JAMA position is that standardization of non-step buses in this fashion will contribute to accelerating the creation of a barrier-free society, while also offering great potential for reducing vehicle costs. In view of this reality, it is hoped that a shift will occur away from the current practice of each bus operator adopting separate specifications, in favor of a system in which standardized vehicles are uniformly adopted by all bus operators.

From here on, furthermore, in order to expand the non-step portion of the buses, reduce the tire house dimensions to eliminate gaps in floor level and otherwise improve convenience and safety, the objective is to develop a next-generation proliferation-model non-step bus incorporating design reviews in the basic structure. In working toward this goal, the aforementioned Panel is scheduled to continue its studies, seeking to draw up standard specifications characterized by even greater sharing of basic parts and structures than the standard specifications presented this time around, with completion targeted by the end of fiscal 2002.