Where did bench seats go?

0118999

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For many decades most UK service buses used pretty much identical bench seating. You know the sort: metal frame, polished metal grab bar across the top, nice thick cushion at bottom, padded backrest and plastic panel to the rear. They're still doing sterling service in older Tridents.
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Then, seemingly suddenly, they stop being fitted and everybody ordered individual seats, most commonly Esteban Civics and Lazzerini Praticos. Why? I would imagine the individual seats are more expensive? Most versions are less comfortable and they don't seem as hardwearing. So that only leaves weight?

The industry is changing again now, high-backed seating and e-leather is rapidly becoming the norm for the big bus groups. I understand this looks premium but I honestly don't rate leather: too hot in summer, too cold in winter, in any season you slide off it and it doesn't absorb sound like moquette.

Does anyone know why bench seating fell by the wayside?
 
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BML_Atkinson

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Apr 1, 2016
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My guess is that the repair costs (frame, upholstry etc) wouold be high, it may also increase the gangway space.
 

LB14

Veteran Member
Mar 28, 2016
320
I believe they can still be spec'd by operators if desired, or fitted aftermarket. NIBS Buses Olympus has bench seating and looks rather odd!

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whistlehead

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Dublin Bus Enviro 400, anyone?
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Also, don't forget the NRM brought them back in more stylish form, and they live on in the SRM
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I'd imagine that weight is the primary issue. The other reasons I can think of are that it'd be cheaper to replace the moquette or frame of one of a pair of seats than an entire bench, and also that you can use the same seat model in locations where you only need one, such as over the front wheelarches in a B7RLE ,so you only have to keep one type in stock.

Also I mostly agree with you about E-leather. Our Busway ones actually look pretty smart (best pic I could find):
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Trimmed in a simple slate grey with navy blue backing. Swish. The style carries over fairly well to their standard Praticos, too, though it could do with some more stitiching detail:
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However, for some reason, instead of adopting that approach Stagecoach has apparently decided that this is their new standard group seating:
Kk83ox7V6HGqkbnlEXQHnf0NQ1c6RnZc.jpeg

I can only hope they change their minds. E-leather only makes sense if it looks premium, and they've managed to take that away...
 
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D

DVA_MEKA18

Thoose E Leather ones were on the Man E300 in Exeter on the Park and rides
 

iomex

UKDT
Dec 10, 2015
1,344
Going to speculate safety. Those old metal handrails seem like a great way to bust your nose open if the bus shunts into something.
 
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Planesandbuses

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Apr 9, 2016
260
The problem with Bench seats is that they get really hard over the years (at least all the buses in london did)
 

Jason

The Audi Veg
May 19, 2016
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My only two real complaints about modern bus seating is that sharp objects such as blades and needles are much more easily stuffed down the side of the seat, which could be pretty dangerous. However, modern bus seats are so firm that they are way too firm.

Back when Grimsby had East Lancs Vykings and ALX400 Tridents, even though they were pretty old, the seats were still very comfortable which made longer trips much more tolerable. Even though the Trident E400's seats were a little more solid, they were still much better than what you find on the likes of the N230UDs. Take this screen capture from this video, you can see that the old Vyking's had huge amounts of padding, and they really did benefit thanks to that! Bouncy, yes, but I'd rather bouncy than intolerably uncomfortable!
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whistlehead

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I don't think firmness could be the issue, as many modern bus seats are made to be as light as possible and have minimal padding. Handrails I don't think would be a safety issue either, as surely cou could just replace them with plastic mouldings like on modern individual seats? Sliding off them can't be the concern either, as you're much more likely to slip off an E-leather seat - our early Busway N230UDs stupidly tried to fit two high-back seats back to back over the rear wheels when they didn't quite fit, resulting in a slippery E-leather seat which slopes downlwards...
 

0118999

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Very interesting to see NIBS and Dublin Bus were still fitting bench seats relatively recently, I wasn't aware of that! The local oly's benches remained supple until Stagecoach pensioned them off although they were retrimmed at least once. I can't see the frames being difficult to repair as most depots would be able to weld the simple tubular metal frames and cut and rivet the plastic rear panels; I'd have though all the plastic bits and metal castings and on newer individual seats would be pricier and more of a faff.

The "modernised" benches fitted in NRM and SRM look nice although firm, what are they actually like to sit on?

Local Stagecoach has just received some E200MMCs with that orange and blue e-leather and it looks hideous, like some nasty cheap vinyl! I'm not convinced by high back seating either, I don't think many use headrests (not sure I'd want to) so all they to is impede the view forward; providing a seat offers support up to the shoulder blades, I think that is more than sufficient for the vast majority of stage carriage work and the certainly the 20 minute long route they've been branded for! That'd mean a boggo Pratico or CivicV2 would be fine, although the Pratico high-backs fitted aren't all that tall/obstrusive. I wonder if the taller seats plus leather offset any weight savings of moving away from benches?
 
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Cauterize1750

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Oct 24, 2016
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Stagecoach over this way with the E400's we took delivery of for our Gold routes (First set in 2009 for one route, another set for the 2nd route in 2012) have got the smart looking leather seats, and I have always found them to be fairly comfortable, apart from sitting on the lower deck facing backwards in the rearmost seats, you tend to slide off of them!

Got a new set of Gold buses coming in later this month to replace the 09 buses which are staying in the area (which is nice), havent had a glimpse of the interior of them yet - but otherwise the seats on our Trident 2's and E200's are pretty standard individual seats.

I dont miss the bench seats, once cracked my nose on the bar infront after the driver had to brake sharply
 

0118999

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Oct 24, 2016
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I noticed in Holland many buses had "hip restraints" for pedestal mounted seats to prevent you sliding off sidewards and providing something to grip, but I've never seen them in the UK, probably because our operators are too tight!
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