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Back to school with Ram ProMaster

by Bill Cawthon on

REV Group’s Collins Bus subsidiary is using the Ram ProMaster van as the basis for its first-in-class low-floor special needs school bus.

The new bus debuted at the recent School Transportation News Conference & Trade Show in Reno, Nevada. It takes advantage of the ProMaster’s ground-hugging design to eliminates the need for a lift, which is needed by other special-needs buses.

Collins is the first school bus with a truly low entry height.

Instead of a lift, the Ram-based bus has a driver-deployable ramp so the many children who use wheelchairs can enter and exit the bus without assistance. The Collins system also eliminates the downtime and maintenance costs of a wheelchair lift.

The ProMaster’s front-wheel drive setup allowed Collins engineers to design a true low-floor vehicle with a single entry with a nine-inch-high entry step when the ramp is retracted.

Collins also pointed out that the ProMaster has a smaller turning radius than competitors, making the bus more maneuverable in neighborhoods. The front wheel drive also helps traction on snow and ice.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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