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How Do You Build A Revolutionary Bus? Keep It Simple.

What we’ve learned after 10 years of building the Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner® C2

In 2004, the Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner® C2 changed the school bus industry. And that didn’t happen by chance. When designing and building the C2, Thomas Built implemented a simple and effective strategy: do a handful of things better than anyone else. That’s right. We knew what was most important to school systems: safety, durability, reliability and cost. So those were the areas where we focused our efforts.

We asked important core questions, like “What truly makes a bus safer?” and “How do we build a bus that will last for 20 years?” The answers led us to create a C2 bus with outstanding maneuverability, state-of-the-art driver ergonomics and the most visibility among all Type C buses. Those are vital design elements if you want to enhance bus safety. We also experimented with welds and strong adhesives that ensure long-term construction integrity. And we created a bus that is much easier to service and maintain, to reduce downtime and labor costs. So now, after ten years, we see that our strategy has performed better than expected. As a result, we recently expanded the warranty on the C2, which will save school systems money and will provide even more peace of mind.


When you think about making something durable, you probably think it must be built strong and sturdy with solid, rigid materials. And in some ways, that’s true. But at Thomas Built, we realized that to truly maximize durability, we had to look at flexibility as well. So when we first designed the Saf-T-Liner C2, we looked at technologies from the aerospace industry. We took advantage of the knowledge and innovation from some of the top engineering departments in the world. And that led us to something completely new for the school bus industry: adhesives and self-piercing rivets.

By combining these technologies, we were able to create joints that are incredibly flexible, with a strength nearly double existing joining methods. In fact, testing shows that in some cases the adhesive joints are stronger than the side sheet itself. That’s critical so that joints on the bus maintain their integrity for the entire life of the bus.

Additionally, self-piercing rivets don’t require pre-drilled holes and are compatible with adhesives. This results in fewer fasteners, which creates fewer potential leak points and a sleeker look. But Thomas Built didn’t stop there. We wanted make sure the C2 was even more durable and less likely to rattle and creak as it ages. So we welded together the floor, rafters and stringers. When the shell is bonded to the frame, the result is a single, cohesive unit that is extremely stable and strong.


The Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2 looks different from other Type C buses. But it wasn’t driven by a need for style. It was the result of maximizing safety. Take a closer look. First, look at the one-piece bonded windshield. It provides a panoramic view, so the driver can maneuver safely. When combined with the low sloping hood, low instrument panel and A-pillar windows, the C2’s visibility is among the best in the Type C category. Then, to make the bus more solid, we implemented our Saf-T-Net construction. This signature Thomas Built feature includes side-skirt reinforcement, extended roof bows, as well as a welded header and rafter system. All of those are good reasons to take a closer look at the C2.

Extended Warranty

After 10 years of service in the field, the Saf-T-Liner C2 has proven just how durable it really is. In fact, we are so confident in the durability of our buses that we now offer a three-year, 50,000-mile base warranty on all Saf-T-Liner® C2 buses, beginning with units produced on or after October 1, 2014. This warranty covers the chassis, electrical and manual controls, safety equipment, assemblies and more.

Cost-Saving Technology

At Thomas Built, innovation is one of our core strengths. That’s how we’ve been able to offer safer, more efficient buses for years. That tradition continues today, thanks to our partnership with Zonar® Systems. We now can help you increase your fleet’s efficiency and safety with our most comprehensive telematics product ever. This factory-installed system is standard on all C2 buses. It provides real-time data on bus performance, driver behavior, potential maintenance issues and even passengers. This invaluable information will help you make better operational decisions, lower your costs and run a safer, more efficient fleet.

The Zonar system runs through the pre-wired Thomas Built C2 multiplex wiring system. This closed system optimizes communication, reduces faults and lets you monitor as many as 30 different functions of the bus. Because aftermarket installation is unnecessary, you can feel confident that you are driving a lighter, more efficient bus with continuous connectivity to your home base.

Fuel Saving Technology

Fuel is one of the biggest expenses for a school bus fleet. But thanks to new technology, it’s also an area over which you have more control than ever before. Thomas Built Buses is now offering Allison Transmission’s FuelSense® technology as standard equipment on all C2 buses. It’s a state-of-the-art software and electronic controls package for Allison automatic transmissions. The groundbreaking technology will enable drivers to maintain optimal engine speed, better manage shift points and improve performance while maximizing fuel savings. And if you decide to upgrade to FuelSense Plus™ or FuelSense Max™, you can save even more – adding up to 10% in fuel savings.

Even after 10 years in operation, the Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2 is still revolutionizing the school bus industry. Thanks to the updating and upgrading with state-of-the-art technology, the C2 can lead your fleet well into the future. Talk to your local dealer to learn more about how the C2 can meet your specific challenges and needs.

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