2015 Ford Transit Gets Ready For School
Ford is ready to take you to school – or maybe just your kids next fall. Meet the Blue Bird Micro Bird T-Series bus, Blue Bird’s latest iteration of the short bus built atop the Ford Transit chassis cab with the bus prep package.
This marks the first time both Blue Bird and the Transit have come together. Traditionally, the Ford E-Series chassis cab has served this role, but with Ford beginning its phase-out, the Transit is getting some attention. The result nets plenty of benefits, including better fuel economy, a lower floor height, and increased outward visibility.
The T-Series bus is available in two wheelbases, with single or dual rear wheels, and with space ranging from nine to 25 passengers. The Transit offer all three of its engine options here as well, meaning school districts can choose between the 3.7-liter V-6, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, or the 3.2-liter inline five-cylinder Power Stroke turbodiesel. All three engines come mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Ford’s SelectShift and tow/haul mode.
What’s more, school districts can opt to run CNG or propane with the 3.7-liter V-6 by choosing the gaseous prep package. For those taking the diesel route, the 3.2-liter is B20-capable, so it can run on a 20 percent mix of biodiesel. As far as capability, the Transit T-Series has a lighter curb weight, which directly translates to an improved payload capacity that maxes out at 10,360 pounds.
Like the conventional Transit, bus prep package Transits are produced at Ford’s Kansas City Assembly Plant but come with a heavy-duty alternator, dual batteries, an auxiliary fuse panel, an auxiliary HVAC prep package, and the right-hand door delete. That door delete allows upfitters to install a large window and the two-panel bus doors where the right passenger would normally sit.
Blue Bird is only one of several bus upfitters, including Collins Bus Corporation, Thomas Built Buses, and Starcraft Bus.
UPDATE 05/28/2015: The article previously stated the Ford E-Series went out of production. While that’s true for the E-Series Wagon, Ford says the Chassis Cab will soldier on till the end of the decade.
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Why It Matters
With the Ford E-Series Wagon no longer in production and the Chassis Cab being phased out by the decade’s end, school bus upfitters are beginning to adapt to the Transit platform. The change certainly makes for a different-looking bus, but it also brings along a bus with greater functionality, customization, and performance. Short buses might not be the most fashionable ride to be seen in, but they serve their purpose – now with the Transit carrying the torch the E-Series carried for decades.