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Futuristic Bus Designs Unveiled:

What a city bus may look like 50 years from now was the theme of “Bus of the Future,” an exhibit and presentation given by Santa Monica’ s Big Blue Bus at the 2008 AltCar Expo on Friday, September 26.

The Big Blue Bus collaborated with Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design to create design schemes for the “next generation” of transit. The idea, said Blue Bus Director of Transit Services Stephanie Negriff, was born out of the Blue Bus’s 80th birthday celebration a few months ago. Looking back at the bus company’s history, it was inevitable that the Blue Bus would find itself looking toward a future in which public transit will be of increasing importance.

Negriff told the Mirror that the main question for this project was, “What can we do to design buses to make them attractive and make people want to ride them?

“If we want to make a shift in how people travel, we have to think about how buses are designed and how people use them.”

Three Art Center College students, Giuseppe Fillipone, Gabriel Wartofsky, and Mike Peterson, submitted design concepts, which were judged on four criteria: sustainability, ridability, branding (fitting in with the image and style of Santa Monica), and innovation.

The designs were presented by Geoff Wardle, Director of Advanced Mobility Research at the Art Center, and by Gabriel Wartofsky, who described his own project.

Wartofsky’s “Icon Bus” was inspired by “iconic” double-decker buses in London and other cities. It is a two-story bus, with the lower level designed for “short-stop” seating and handicapped access. “Leaning” seats on the lower level save space by hanging vertically until they are in use. The upper level is for “long-journey” passengers and features conventional bench seats and a social area/viewing lounge at the front.

The Icon Bus is a Positive Emissions Vehicle, using exterior TiOx gills that break down atmospheric ozone into oxygen.

Fillipone’s “Cougar Bus” was inspired by the skeletal structure of felines such as the cougar, on whose strong backbone all other organs and sub-skeletal structures hinge. The Cougar bus separates the passenger “cell” from the chassis, where the mechanical functions are located. The size of the passenger cell can be adjusted depending on usage and passenger load. This bus also uses vertical “standing seats” to save space and has translucent walls to let in light and provide a view.

Mike Peterson’s “Clear Volume Bus” took its design concept from partially finished buildings where the structure shows through. The center section of the bus is transparent, with a glass roof that can also be opened in warmer weather. Again, the seating is divided between conventional bench seats in the rear for those taking longer trips, and vertical seats in the middle and front.

The middle section can be lowered to allow passengers to enter without the need for stairs or ramps.

The Clear Volume Bus runs on a hydrogen fuel cell electric drive housed under the floor of the rear section.

Following the presentation of the designs, a panel of judges voted their choices. The results:

The Clear Volume Bus took the honors for both ridability and branding.

The Icon Bus was judged best for sustainability.

For innovation, the Cougar Bus was the winner.

The Big Blue Bus will be giving presentations at transportation events around the country during the next year, in the hope that these designs might inspire the design of actual public transit vehicles.

For more information, and a chance for community input on “Bus of the Future” designs, go to busofthefuture.com.

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