What is a Kneeling Bus?

Lori Kilchermann

A kneeling bus is a bus that not only has no steps between the door and the bus floor, but also has an air-adjustable suspension. This feature allows the driver to actually lower the bus to the curb to make entering and exiting the bus much easier. By lowering the bus, the handicapped and elderly are given much easier access to the bus, and even wheelchair access is made easier. The kneeling bus takes its name from the kneeling-like manner in which it lowers itself at the bus stop.

A kneeling bus is much more accessible than a regular bus for handicapped people.
A kneeling bus is much more accessible than a regular bus for handicapped people.

By using an on-board air compressor and air bag suspension, this kind of bus can drop to a much lower position when loading and off-loading passengers. By depressing a button inside of the bus, the operator is able to release air from the front air bag suspension. This allows the kneeling bus to slowly drop down from its normal ride height. Once the passengers have made their way on or off the bus, the switch is released, and the suspension once again fills with air. This brings the bus back to its normal operating height.

A kneeling bus makes it possible for the elderly to conveniently enter and exit a bus.
A kneeling bus makes it possible for the elderly to conveniently enter and exit a bus.

Along with the air-lift system, the kneeling bus has no stairs or steps on the interior of the bus to impede traffic. Passengers who use wheelchairs as well as any passenger who may have an impediment which makes climbing steps on a conventional bus difficult can navigate the entrance of a kneeling bus much easier than a traditional bus. Typically, the doors and aisles of a kneeling bus are also wider than the same areas in a standard bus, making access much easier for the handicapped.

Many busing companies performed tests to determine the feasibility of kneeling the buses at every stop or only when a handicapped rider was at the stop. The companies wanted to examine the effects of kneeling the bus on a time frame. While the buses made it more convenient to load and unload, there was also wear and tear on the bus's suspension, extra fuel used in the buildup of air to the system and the aforementioned time-delay problems. The determination to kneel the bus at every stop or only when the driver deemed it necessary was adopted in many areas while others deemed it proper to kneel the bus at every stop, citing that the more expedient loading and unloading time made up for the delay in airing the system up and down.

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Discussion Comments


The kneeling buses are also great for parents with strollers! I've seen the older handicapped lifts in use. They take up a lot of space on the bus and took a long time to operate. No one wants to make themselves that conspicuous, and obviously it's too much trouble for just a stroller.

I think it's a good idea to kneel the bus for every stop. Many people have handicaps that are not immediately obviously. I have a good friend, for instance, who has a connective tissue disease although she looks young and healthy - stairs are a big problem for her. (She gets dirty looks on elevators.) She would never ask to have the bus knelt down, but it would certainly be easier for her.

It's also safer for everyone if the bus kneels down - less chance of tripping, etc.


Most days I take the bus to and from work. There is a bus stop shelter close to my house, so even when the weather is bad, I have some protection.

I know our city buses are capable of kneeling because I have seen them do it when they have someone who needs some extra assistance.

The bus I usually take every day does not do this on a regular basis. We pretty much have the same people getting on and off every day, and since nobody is handicapped, they never lower the bus down.

I can see how this would save wear and tear on the bus and also save time. It is nice to know they have the capability if they need to though.


My friend is a driver for a para transit bus company. I think most of the buses they use are all kneeling buses.

They also have other special features that make it easier for the handicapped to get on and off the bus.

With these special buses, there is no question whether or not they will lower the bus down at every stop.

These stops are also different than those on a regular bus route. You know that each time you stop, it will take time for each person to get on and off.

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