AVTA's New, Potentially Dangerous Electric Commuter Bus

AVTAs New Electric Bus Poses A Potential Egress Safety Threat to some passengers.

This experience piece represents my experience in attempting to use one of the first 8-10 rows in AVTA's new electric bus.
I realize that empirically, I may only represent a small part of the ridership demographic in stature, but in my opinion (and experience), the Antelope Valley Transit Authority’s (AVTA) new electric bus, the MCI Coach D45 CRTe Le Charger Commuter Bus presents a passenger safety concern. 

I feel that the seating configuration in AVTAs new electric commuter bus poses an egress safety threat to myself and others of my size and stature. At six feet tall and a mostly trim 200lb build build, I find that I have little to no room to easily navigate into or out of most of the extremely tight-spaced seats.

In an emergency scenario, this configuration could be problematic and pose a threat to a tall or portly sized passenger’s safe and expedient exit from the vehicle.

In late 2021, the AVTA, based out of Lancaster, CA, started to put their electric commuter buses, the D45 CRTe LE Charge, into service on the routes serving Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.. The 'D45 CRTe LE CHARGE battery-electric commuter coach,' is from MCI Coach.

After I rode in the bus, I found it to be the most uncomfortable seating environment I have experienced in the last 15+ years of using public transit. I apprised the AVTA Facebook social media rep of this perspective on 12/6/21. But I did not go into in-depth details, and they did not further inquire into my experience, so I was feeling my transcribed experience was sufficient.

But as the AVTA is rolling out more of the fleet of electric commuter buses, I feel the following information needs to be disseminated to whomever needs to see it.

Initial Observations:

  • The seat space per passenger is too small for someone of my stature / height.

  • There's no leg room. My shins are painfully pressed up against the base of the seat in front of me.

  • I cannot stretch out my legs.

    • If I keep my legs in front of me, I am forced to keep them bent more than 90 degrees throughout the ride. This required having the small of my back pushed firmly against the seat lumbar support.

      • Unless I sit with my legs splayed.

Splaying your legs has its own hazards:

  • When the seats in front of you are reclined, you are forced to splay your legs.

    • With the seats reclined one barely has enough space between your stomach and the back of the seat in front of you (see figure 1).

  • When you splay your legs to avoid the reclining seat in front of you from crushing your knees, your left knee gets pinned painfully between the seat and the bus wall. Your right knee is stuck out in the walkway, with no way to pull it back in (see figure 2).

    • In this leg-splayed position, I am pinned and cannot rotate left or right to get out of the way of passengers loading onto the bus and walking past me in the aisle.

    • To readjust in my seat, IE: to either sit sideways to try and stretch my legs, I have to lift my upper torso off the seat by trying to stand so I can re-adjust. I cannot stand straight up and I cannot simply rotate in my seat. I have minimal leverage to do so.

  • IN AN EMERGENCY, my ability to extricate myself (egress) from my seat is extremely hampered. I fear for my safety in this bus as it can take several seconds to get up and out of my seat.

Other incidental observations:

  • The seats, when fully reclined, puts your fellow passengers head in your face.

  • There is little to no room for backpacks.

  • The seats are pretty thin compared to other public commuter options.

    • When these buses fill to capacity, I cannot imagine the social and physical discomfort that will come of this.

  • The headrest is too low to be of use to one of my stature.

  • Turning sideways to try and find legroom makes the passenger legs a walk hazard that cannot be easily retracted due to the limited amount of space. (see figure 3)

  • I’ve overheard passengers joke, ‘It’s time to get small’ when loading into the vehicle. Many are not pleased at all with the lack of seating space but most of the AVTA's demographic will not take the initiative to say anything.

  • Nor has the AVTA taken any surveys of the ridership

  • Some were doing what they could to avoid taking the electric bus if they see it coming.

  • There are a few rows I can sort of fit in, but I was shoo'd out of the front row next to the entry door because the driver was 'Keeping my stuff' there.

  • The buses are having issues making a round-trip on a full battery charge. Seems the product was not properly tested for transit or passenger fit prior to purchasing.

  • Others of my size or stature are not happy.

    • Many, like myself, are considering other options for our commute.

    • Statistically speaking, knowing at least four people who will start driving rather than ride in this bus seems a bit more significant.

  • For the first time in nearly 20 years, I am being forced to look at options other than public transit to get to work.

  • I now spend less than a third of what I was on transit fare and am preferring to drive to work rather than being subjected to this kind of discomfort. I believe many others are doing the same.

Figure 1: The above image on the left (electric bus) shows the space this passenger has between the reclined seat back in front of myself and my stomach. Barely enough room for my standard cell phone to fit in. Image on the right, seating configuration in the diesel commuter bus.


Figure 2: (Left image, electric bus) When the seat in front of you is reclined, I have no room to evade backwards and my left knee gets pinned between the seat and the bus wall. My right knee is stuck out in the walkway, with no option to pull it back in. The small of my back is jammed back into my own seat. In this image, the seat in front of me did not fully recline to its fullest extent. (Right Image) The leg space on the diesel commuter bus.

Figure 3: Electric bus: Sitting sideways leaves your legs out in the walkway in this particular section, the seat in front of you still digs into the left side of your leg/knee. You are a hazard to anyone trying to walk by you as they load onto the bus. Notice the passenger’s shoulders are in line with or behind the plane my knees occupy.


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