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Why are bus suspensions so terrible?

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by RDoc, Dec 16, 2015.

  1. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    For medium distance transportation, it seems to me that buses have a lot of advantages, the biggest that there already exists a huge network of roads, in stark contrast to rail. They also carry a lot of passengers for the energy they use. However, having commuted for years by bus, the suspensions are ridiculous.

    It seems to me that there should be a private/public project to greatly improve bus comfort, which to me means better suspensions. Fully active suspensions would be a likely prospect.
     
  2. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    When you say "bus suspensions", which ones do you mean? Large coaches use air-ride, but school buses use big leaf spring suspensions. The former are much better compared to the latter.
     
  3. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    As a kid, I thought school bus suspensions were perfect. Well, almost perfect. Everyone loved being in the back and getting bounced up into the air on bumps, but the front didn't bounce enough to be any fun. :p
     
  4. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    A couple of data points:

    When you're a kid, it's fun and you don't mind sitting on top of the wheel-well because it's the best place to bounce around.

    Fast forward a couple of decades, where old school buses are used to transport drunk passengers after canoe float trips on Missouri rivers, and it does a number on the bladder while trying to get back to camp. No thanks. :)
     
  5. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    Commuter coaches and urban transport buses. They do use air suspensions, but they are still terrible.

    My point is that we've already got lots of highways and urban roads that go everywhere, but when people think about buses they dismiss them as too uncomfortable. This seems like a pretty simple thing to fix, and with comfortable buses, dedicated lanes, and ideally jitney like services, it seems to me that a lot of the urban and medium distance commuter transportation could be developed a whole lot quicker and cheaper than light rail schemes. It also offers ready solutions to the last mile (or 5 mile) problem, since that last mile is already serviced by roads.

    For commuter and urban transport, the relatively short trips would make for pretty reasonable electrification with battery swapping I'd think, but until people are willing to accept travel by bus as desirable, it won't happen.
     
  6. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    I'm not sure it's the suspension that's at issue there. My own personal experience is that air-ride is fine, but rather it's the seating and comfort issues. Urban transport buses tend to be designed for tight, easy-to-clean seats with horrible comfort. The commuter coaches are a bit better, more comfy seats, but they're still very tight. Of course, that's my own personal opinion - I willingly use any of them.
     
  7. RDoc

    RDoc S85D

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    I commuted for years using buses and the problems I'm referring to are excessive leaning in corners, very rough ride over broken surfaces and high levels of road noise. In most urban transport buses, it's all of the above plus very poor control over acceleration and braking, but that's just because of the drivers. They should also be automated but it's not really a suspension issue.

    The seating issue is also real but I suspect that's mainly because the systems don't run enough buses, so they have to pack people in. Subways and commuter rail have much the same issues, although the wider cars do help a lot with seat width. The big differences though are more comfortable ride because the rail bed is smoother than road surfaces, and more predictability (most of the time) because of lack of traffic. Dedicated transit lanes can help the traffic issue a lot, particularly with computer scheduling, but there's no fix for ride comfort currently.

    I don't see any reason that buses shouldn't be nearly as comfortable as light rail in most circumstances. Active suspensions should be able to fix these problems almost completely. The payoff would be much higher acceptance of mass transit without the practical and economic issues of light rail.
     
  8. Spidy

    Spidy Member

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    Buses here in Germany seem just fine. Maybe it's that the road it better or we have Mercedes or MAN buses.

    Not even speaking of those insane Neoplan ones...
     

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