Thomas Saf-T-Liner HDX
|Manufacturer||Thomas Built Buses (body and chassis)|
|Assembly||High Point, North Carolina|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Type D (transit-style)|
|Body style(s)||school bus|
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
|Wheelbase||181–277 inches (4.6–7.0 m) (HDX)|
|Width||96 inches (2.4 m)|
|Curb weight||GVWR Up to 36,200 pounds (16,400 kg) (HDX)|
The Thomas Saf-T-Liner is the name of the transit-style (Type D) school bus product line produced by Thomas Built Buses. Introduced in 1978, the Saf-T-Liner marked the transition to in-house chassis production by Thomas. In addition to school bus applications, variations of the Saf-T-Liner have been produced as activity buses, specialty vehicles, and commercial/transit buses. It can also be used to describe the Saf-T-Liner C2 or Saf-T-Liner FS-65, but they are not considered part of the Saf-T-Liner family.
A school bus is a type of bus owned, leased, contracted to, or operated by a school or school district. It is regularly used to transport students to and from school or school-related activities, but not including a charter bus or transit bus. Various configurations of school buses are used worldwide; the most iconic examples are the yellow school buses of the United States and Canada.
Thomas Built Buses, Inc. is an American bus manufacturer. Headquartered in High Point, North Carolina, the company is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America. While best known for its yellow school buses, Thomas also produces activity buses/MFSAB, commercial buses, and bus bodies for aftermarket conversion.
Currently, all versions of the Saf-T-Liner model line are produced in High Point, North Carolina.
High Point is a city located in the Piedmont Triad region of the state of North Carolina. Most of the city is located in Guilford County, with portions spilling into neighboring Randolph, Davidson, and Forsyth counties. High Point is North Carolina's only city that extends into four counties. As of the 2010 census the city had a total population of 104,371, with an estimated population of 108,629 in 2014. High Point is currently the ninth-largest municipality in North Carolina, and the 259th largest city in America.
Prior to its reorganization as Thomas Built Buses in 1972, Thomas Car Works produced both front and rear-engined transit-style school buses to compete with other manufacturers. As was the common practice during the era, production of the chassis was outsourced to another manufacturer. Thomas offered its transit-style buses on a wide variety of chassis in comparison to other manufacturers (changing between Dodge, Ford, GMC, International Harvester, and Volvo). In contrast, Blue Bird, then the largest school bus manufacturer in the United States, manufactured its own chassis (as did West Coast manufacturer Gillig).
Perley A. Thomas Car Works, Inc. manufactured streetcars, transitioning to buses. The family-owned company was founded in 1916 by Perley A. Thomas, forming his own firm following the closure of his employer, Southern Car Works. Based in High Point, North Carolina, Thomas Car Works manufactured complete streetcars while renovating and repairing existing vehicles.
Dodge is an American brand of automobile manufactured by FCA US LLC, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Dodge vehicles currently include performance cars, though for much of its existence Dodge was Chrysler's mid-priced brand above Plymouth.
General Motors Company (GMC), formally the GMC Division of General Motors LLC, is a division of the American automobile manufacturer General Motors (GM) that primarily focuses on trucks and utility vehicles. GMC sells pickup and commercial trucks, buses, vans, military vehicles, and sport utility vehicles marketed worldwide by General Motors. In North America, GMC dealerships are almost always also Buick dealerships, allowing the same dealer to market both upmarket cars and upmarket trucks.
In 1978, coinciding with an updated body design necessitated by federal school bus safety regulations, Thomas became a chassis manufacturer with the launch of the Saf-T-Liner EF and ER (EF=Engine Front, ER=Engine Rear). For the first time, the Saf-T-Liner was produced on a Thomas-designed chassis.
In 2001, Thomas introduced its current generation of rear-engine bus with the debut of the Thomas Saf-T-Liner HD (HD=Heavy Duty); for 2004, the HD was re-branded as the HDX.
Serving as the replacement for the Saf-T-Liner ER and WestCoastER, the HD/HDX would use much of the same body, with the exception of the drivers' compartment forward. On the outside, the front roofcap was completely redesigned, fairing in the front warning lights; the "School Bus" lettering was changed to a reflective decal. In a move to increase visibility, the windshield was enlarged and reconfigured to a 2-piece curved configuration. A distinguishing feature of the redesign would be the design of the sideview mirrors. To improve forward sightlines, all three sets of sideview mirrors (flat, convex, and blind-spot crossview) were integrated into single roof-mounted units, eliminating a number of brackets.
Several parts of the redesign reflected the acquisition of Thomas by Freightliner. While the chassis remained a Thomas-produced unit, parts of the body were sourced from Freightliner, including the headlights (from the Century Class) and instrument panel (from the Business Class M2 and Sterling trucks). In a further move to improve visibility, the instrument panel was centrally-mounted. Other changes were intended for the HD/HDX to accommodate a wide variety of bus drivers. The HD/HDX includes a fully adjustable driver's seat, a tilt/telescoping steering column, and an optional adjustable pedal cluster.
The Freightliner Century Class is an aerodynamic sloped-hood conventional Class 8 truck that was produced by American truck manufacturer Freightliner.
The Freightliner Business Class M2 is a model range of medium-duty trucks produced by Freightliner. In production since June 2002, the M2 was the successor to the FL-Series introduced in the 1990s. In terms of size, the M2 is produced in Class 5 through Class 8 GVWR ratings, competing primarily against the International Durastar and the Ford F-650/F-750 Super Duty.
Sterling Trucks Corporation is a former American truck manufacturer of Class 5-8 trucks. Taking on its name from a defunct American truck manufacturer, Sterling was formed in 1997 as Freightliner acquired the rights to the heavy-truck product lines of Ford Motor Company. Sterling-brand trucks were sold in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand.
In the fall of 2011, the Thomas Saf-T-Liner EF was given its most extensive redesign since 1991. As part of the redesign, it was re-branded the EFX, bringing its naming in line with the rear-engine HDX model. The EFX and the HDX also share the same roof cap design; a large 2-piece curved windshield replaced the 4-pane flat glass unit used previously. Aside from the front grille, the EFX is also distinguished by its use of separate crossview mirrors instead of the integrated units seen on the HDX. Inside, the interior is sourced from the 2010 update of the EF; the gauge cluster (sourced from Freightliner) is now offset towards the center of the bus.
Introduced in 1978, this model underwent minor redesigns during the 1980s that reduced its chrome trim. In 1984, it received rectangular headlights. However, as lower-cost front-engine transits came onto the market in the late 1980s and early 1990s, this model was gradually replaced by the All Star EF and the Saf-T-Liner MVP EF. Today, the Saf-T-Liner EF name lives on as the MVP-series EF lost its prefix in 2007.
Standing for Maneuverability, Visibility, and Protection, the MVP series of the Saf-T-Liner represented their first substantial update. Introduced as new series for 1991, the MVP represented Thomas's entry into lower-cost Type D school buses, a segment created by the Blue Bird TC/2000 and Wayne Lifestar. From the outside, the MVP EF and ER had much larger windshields, and updated drivers compartments. To distinguish them from the Saf-T-Liner ER, the MVP series had dual headlights instead of quad headlights. In 2004, the MVP ER was discontinued as Thomas replaced it and the Saf-T-Liner HD with the HDX. The MVP EF, with minor updates in 2007 and 2010, was produced until it was replaced by the EFX in 2011.
The Blue Bird TC/2000 is a product line of buses that was produced by the American manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation from 1988 to 2003. Introduced as a second transit-style product range alongside the Blue Bird All American, the TC/2000 was produced in front-engine and rear-engine layouts. While produced primarily as a yellow school bus, Blue Bird offered the TC/2000 in commercial configurations and numerous custom-built variants. For commercial use, Blue Bird badged the model line as the TC/2000 or the APC 2000.
The Wayne Lifestar is a product line of buses that was manufactured and marketed by Wayne Corporation and its successor company Wayne Wheeled Vehicles from 1986 to 1995. Produced nearly exclusively in a school bus configuration, the Wayne Lifestar used a transit-style body configuration with a front-engine chassis. Marking the return to transit-style production, the Lifestar adopted the single-piece body stampings of the Wayne Lifeguard in its construction.
Introduced in 1978, the ER was produced through the 1980s with relatively few detail changes. In 1984, the headlights and front turn signals were switched from round to rectangular units. In 1991, the driver's compartment was redesigned, with a much larger windshield. During the late 1990s, this model was distinguished from MVP-series ERs by its optional black plastic headlight trim.
Shortly after the introduction of the Saf-T-Liner ER, this variant was introduced by Thomas for West Coast markets (primarily California and Washington State). To better compete with the Crown Supercoaches and Gillig Transit Coaches that had long dominated West Coast school bus sales, Thomas upgraded the Saf-T-Liner ER with heavier-duty components; this upgrade was not made to the EF. Additionally, on 90-passenger models, a second rear axle was an option. As it was a regionally focused model, the WestCoastER did not sell in large numbers. However, as Crown Coach and Gillig both exited the school bus industry in the early 1990s, Thomas gained significant ground on the West Coast.
Both current models of the Saf-T-Liner are available with diesel engines (or optional natural gas engine in the HDX), and have a maximum seating capacity of 90 passengers.
|Model Name||Saf-T-Liner EFX||Saf-T-Liner HDX|
|Seating Capacity||to 90||to 90|
|Overall Length (inches)|
|Body Width (exterior)||96 inches (2.4 m)|
|Wheelbase||136–231 inches (3.5–5.9 m)||189–273 inches (4.8–6.9 m)|
|Interior Headroom||78 inches (2.0 m)|
|GVWR||Up to 36,200 pounds (16,400 kg)|
(200–260 hp or 150–190 kW)
Detroit Diesel DD8 available 2018-present
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