Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2

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Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2
Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2
Years of manufacture 2004 to present
Length up to 40 feet
Width 96 inches
Power/Fuel Diesel, Diesel-electric hybrid, Natural gas, Propane
Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2

The Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 is a type-C school bus. It was introduced in the fall of 2004 as a replacement for the FS-65. The two buses were produced along side each other until 2006, when production of the FS-65 ended.


A commercial version of the C2 operating for York University.

The C2's chassis is derrived from Freightliner's M2 chassis. The newly designed body has joints bonded with adhesives, eliminating the need for welds or rivets. The areas which do not use adhesives are joined with self-piercing rivets. This helps reduce the chance of these areas becoming points of leakage.[1]

The C2 features a more aerodynamic body with a low, sloped hood and a large, curved windshield. The flashing warning lights at the top of the vehicle are flush with the body. The passenger windows and emergency exits are also larger than previous models.

The Saf-T-Liner C2 uses a multiplexed wiring system, which allows for simplification of wiring throughout the vehicle. This also allows the switches on the control panel next to the driver to be easily rearranged to suit driver preferences.[2]

The C2 can also be appointed as a commercial or activity bus. A number of options include air conditioning, coach-style seats, and air suspension.

In 2012, Thomas introduced enhancements to their commercial variant. It features smooth sides (without the school bus guard rails), tinted flush-mounted windows, and optional reclining coach-style seating.

At the 2015 National Association for Pupil Transportation annual summit, Thomas unveiled their BusWise Technologies suite. Included is Zonar's telematics system which can monitor location, mileage, fuel usage, driver behavior and remote engine and system diagnostics. Mobileye provides collision avoidance, lane departure warning, speed limit indicator and headway monitoring function. A PV360 360 degree exterior camera system is also offered. Electronic stability control is provided with Meritor WABCO SmartTrac ESC. Various bus functions can be monitored remotely.[3] In 2018, electronic stability control became standard on the C2.

Also in 2016, Thomas introduced the Saf-T-Anchor Removable Seat (S.T.A.R.S.) Mounting System for special needs buses. The seats are wall-mounted with the feet secured in a special anchor in the floor using specially designed anchors. This allows the seats to be easily removed and installed when the seating arrangement needs to be reconfigured for wheelchairs.

At the 2018 STN Expo, Thomas, in partnership with MITO Corporation and CUB Group, debuted a prototype of their new pedestrian detection technology. The system features LED ground lights on the cross-view mirrors and multiple radar units around the bus. The radar can detect a pedestrian or object within ten feet of the front, back or side of the bus.[4] Known as Saf-T-Zone, the system was made available in 2021. The Stage 2 Lights safety system, also made available in 2021, allows the bus driver to remotely signal to students who are loading or unloading that it is safe for them to cross the road via green bumper-mounted lamps.[5]

At the start of 2021, the WABCO OnGuardACTIVE collision mitigation system from ZF became available as a factory-installed option for Saf-T-Liner C2 diesel school buses equipped with air disc brakes. The radar-based collision mitigation system enables collision warning, active braking and adaptive cruise control.[6] The Bendix Intellipark electronic parking brake was also introduced on the C2 in 2021. The system helps prevent rollaway and runaway crashes due to drivers exiting their vehicles without remembering to set the brake. After the brake has been auto-set, the driver must then take intentional actions to release it.[7]

Alternative fuels

In early 2008, Thomas produced a prototype diesel-electric hybrid version of the C2. The bus utilized Eaton's parallel hybrid system with a Mercedes-Benz engine.[8] The production model, known as the Saf-T-Liner C2e, uses a Cummins engine instead.

In 2012, Thomas announced that a propane-powered version of the C2 would be available in the coming years. Regular production commenced by the summer of 2014. The propane-powered C2 uses an 8.0-litre liquid propane injected engine. Also in 2012, Thomas announced that they were developing a compressed natural gas (CNG) fueled version of the C2. Production began in early 2016, making it one of the first CNG-powered type-C school bus on the market. The CNG-powered C2 used a 6.7-litre engine from Cummins.[9]

At the 2017 National Association for Pupil Transportation Conference and Trade Show, Thomas unveiled the battery-electric version of the C2. Named Jouley, for the joule unit of energy, the fully-electric bus has a range of 100 miles between charges with an option for extended range. It is charged via a standard J1772 charger and can be fully charged in approximately eight hours.[10]

A new propane-powered version of the C2 was introduced in July 2019. The bus uses the Power Solutions Integration Driveforce 8.8 litre LPG engine paired with the Allison 2500 or 2550 PTS transmission. A 70- or 100-gallon fuel tank configuration is available.[11]

Thomas Bus has discontinued the use of propane fuel engines in its buses effective with the 2025 model year. With the parallel discontinuance of those engines at IC Bus (as well as gasoline engines, which Thomas never used in the C2), this leaves Blue Bird as the only big-3 school bus manufacturer to offer those fuel options, as the industry transitions to electric buses as the alternative to diesel.


Other photos

Demonstrator and engineering units

Below is a list of known demonstrator and engineering buses

Fleet number Thumbnail Year VIN Engine Transmission Notes
Oct. 2013 4UZABRDT2FCFV2984 Cummins ISB6.7 Allison 2500 PTS
  • 2015 model.
  • Altoona test bus from December 4, 2013 to May 20, 2014.


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  1. Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 Strength,, retrieved on 2009-09-11
  2. Thomas Saf-T-Liner Drivability,, retrieved on 2009-09-11
  3. Thomas Built Buses Unveils Buswise Technologies at the Napt 41st Annual Summit. 10 November 2015. Thomas Built Buses.
  4. "Thomas Built Buses Debuts Pedestrian Detection Prototype at STN Expo Tradeshow". Press release. 17 July 2018. Thomas Built Buses.
  5. "Thomas Built Buses Introduces New Saf-T-Zone™ Pedestrian Detection System." Thomas Built Buses. Press release. 01 November 2021.
  6. "Thomas Built Buses Opens Up Ordering for OnGuardACTIVE Collision Mitigation System." Thomas Built Buses, 14 January 2021.
  7. "Introducing Intellipark®, Now Available in the Saf-T-Liner® C2 and Jouley®." Press release. Thomas Built Buses. 05 Fenruary 2021.
  8. Thomas Built Develops Hybrid School Bus,, retrieved on 2009-07-29
  9. Thomas Built Buses Announces Saf-T-Liner® C2 CNG Launch. Press release. 19 May 2016. Thomas Built Buses.
  10. Thomas Built Buses Debuts New Saf-T-Liner® C2 All Electric School Bus. Press release. 04 November 2017. Thomas Built Buses.
  11. “Thomas Built Buses Offers New Type C Propane Option.” Press release. 21 July 2019. Thomas Built Buses.