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is straightforward, said John Benish, Jr., presi- dent and chief operating officer of Cook-Illinois Corporation, the largest school bus contractor in Chicagoland. “You only want to put as many wheelchair


students on a bus that you can get off in any type of emergency,” he added. Benish advocates using smaller vehicles, like


the new 36-passenger Micro Bird Type-A school bus on routes that transport wheelchairs. “Sometimes students are scared to get that


high in the lift,” Benish said, referring to the conventional Type C wheelchair lifts. “Especially for the smaller students, we always like the smaller buses.” Benish commented that seating students to- gether gives them a more equitable experience. “The big thing, too, is inclusion. You never


want the special education students to be sepa- rated,” he stressed. “You want all of the students to get on and off the bus as one group. If the students all feel like they’re just one group, it’s


better for everybody.” Benish said positioning wheelchairs in the


center of the bus between the axles provides a smoother ride, compared to chairs that are po- sitioned in the rear, and better protects students from rear-end collisions. “Special education students are the most frag-


ile students that we provide transportation for, and in my opinion, they should have the most comfortable, the safest ride,” he added. While lifts have been used for decades to load chairs on and off the bus, one manufacturer is looking to change the status quo. The Collins Low-Floor Type School Bus has a loading ramp located at the front of the vehicle rather than at the rear, to allow students to ride on and park themselves in under one minute. The most common configuration of the Type


A fits 10 ambulatory passengers with two wheel- chairs. Depending on district needs, the bus can also be configured with eight seated passengers and three wheelchairs.


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30 School Transportation News • MARCH 2020 Trans Air_0320_AD_3.indd 2


2/11/20 4:30 PM


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