School Bus Fleet

October 2014

A management & maintenance magazine for school transportation fleets

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48 S C H O O L B U S F L E E T • O C T O B E R 2 0 1 4 L ight-emitting diode (LED) tech- nology is moving fast, and its momentum is yielding increas- ing benefts for school bus feets. Here's how fast the technology is going: According to Haitz's law, over a 10-year period, the cost per lumen (unit of light emitted) decreases by a factor of 10 (in other words, is divid- ed by 10), and the amount of light gen- erated per LED package increases by a factor of 20. "What we're seeing is the ability to get more and more light," says Bran- don Billingsley, president of Heavy Duty Bus Parts and its affliated com- pany UltraLED. "We're seeing better price points and economies of scale … [and] more and more people are able to utilize the technology." The rapid pace of LED technology development also has implications for research and development (R&D). "When we're developing products, we plan ahead to what will be avail- able to us in 12 or 24 months," Billing- sley says. "In essence, in our R&D we plan to intercept the technology curve, so when that product is completed, it has the latest technology available." Brightening trend Suppliers say that LED lighting's market penetration has been growing in OEM school bus builds. "We are seeing an average increase of 1% to 4% per year, with approximately 28% to 31% of all new builds specifying LED," says Marc Riccio, national sales manager for SoundOff Commercial Ve- hicle Products. At Weldon, the largest LED growth that the company has seen is in interior dome lamps. "The percentage is still relative- ly small compared to incandescent lamps," notes Tom Barnett, director of lighting products at Weldon. "But, as more buses utilize LED interior light- ing, we expect the trend to grow." Dale Puhrmann, national sales man- ager for TRP Bus Parts, concurs that there has been a noticeable uptick in LED bus light sales recently. He says that the bulk of the market activity is replacing incandescent stop-arm lights The price gap between LEDs and incandescent lights has gotten smaller in recent years. With their longer life, higher light output and lower maintenance, LEDs are delivering a great return on investment for school bus operations. BY THOMAS MCMAHON, EXECUTIVE EDITOR School Bus LED Benefts Increase as Costs Decrease and rear bus lighting with LEDs. Visibility advantages One of the key reasons for that switch is to increase the visibility of the bus. This may help to prevent some in- stances of illegal passing of school bus- es, which is a top safety challenge for the industry. Riccio cites a University of Michigan Traffc Research Institute study that concluded that the reaction time for an average driver was 250 milliseconds faster when viewing LED versus incan- descent brake lights. At 55 mph, those 250 milliseconds translate to 20 feet of stopping distance. "This is a very substantial margin of safety to prevent rear-end collisions and further protect the occupants of the bus," Riccio says. LEDs can better attract people's at- tention particularly because of their rapid turn-on time. Scott Riesebosch, chief technology offcer for CRS Elec- tronics, says that while a normal in- candescent bulb takes about 100 mil- liseconds to illuminate, LEDs turn on There has been a noticeable uptick in LED bus light sales recently, according to suppliers. Pictured is an LED unit from TRP Bus Parts.

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