Sleeper Buses are becoming one of the preferred choice for Intercity bus transportation. Though Volvo, Scania and Mercedes are yet to offer to fully built sleeper buses, they are somehow been built, registered as sleeper buses using current norms. Now a days, we a see lot of changes are being done in the original structure of bus, like modifying the rear roof to increase the height to accommodate a berth, lowering the floor to increase the head room. These are done by body builders in request from Customers and again as demanded by passengers. Now in order to overcome these modification and in an effort to bring the sleeper bus registration under law, after several rounds of debates, a regulation for sleeper buses as “AIS-119 Specific Constructional Requirements for Sleeper Coaches” was under draft for quite sometime, since 2012. The standards are released recently and here we explain you more on what is now regulated. Let’s also understand whether the regulation can bring some changes or not. Post the implementation every state can register sleeper buses unlike present scenario where in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala aren’t allowing sleeper registering.
AIS-052 – Code of practice for Bus body design, has provided details about construction of buses suitable for seating and standee passengers. At the same time, there was an urgent need for framing guidelines for the construction of Sleeper Coaches in India, especially for the safety and comfort of sleeping passengers. In absence of a standard on sleeper coaches, presently some of the States are having their own guidelines on this subject. Under the circumstances, the CMVR – Technical Standing Committee at its 16th meeting, decided that suitable guidelines for sleeper coaches be drawn involving all the concerned stakeholders. The CMVR-TSC at its 18th meeting directed to collect available information on sleeper coaches from SIAM and also to go through different state rules available on the subject before finalizing the standard on sleeper coaches.
And finally it was discussed and decided in 32nd meeting of AISC to have a separate standard as AIS-119 Standard for Sleeper Coaches in line with that of AIS-063 Requirements of School Buses. The Bus Body Code – AIS-052 as amended from time to time is the basic standard, and only special requirements would be covered, pertaining to the layout, dimensions and safety.
Sleeper buses are categorised as special buses under Type IV in Bus body code and application wise they are listed under Type III – Intercity buses. As per regulation, the buses can be AC or Non AC. Contrary to what was expected, buses can be either full sleeper or with sleeper and seater. Berth orientation shall be only along the longitudinal axis of the vehicle, means the coupe type Andhra pradesh style cross wise berth’s aren’t allowed.
Also in Maharastra and some parts of east, we had 2×2 layout for berth. Those layout’s aren’t allowed henceforth and either 1×1 or 2×1 layouts will only be permitted. The Head room in the berth shall be 800mm, for the Non AC and for AC will be 600mm to accommodate the AC duct. There shall be 4 emergency exits including 2 roof hatches and location of emergency door in the rear shall be provided at the rear face in line with the gangway of the Bus. Dimension wise the length can be min 1800mm and width shall be 600mm. In some cases the lower berth is placed closed to floor and to over come that a requirement is given, as height of lower berth including uncompressed cushion from the floor should be 200 – 350 mm.
Regulation even details about providing pillows with berth and it can be an integral part of the berth. The pillow and cushion shall be made of fire retardant material. Addition requirements for providing restraint systems to prevent passengers from falling off from the upper berth and provision for access to upper berths are given. A lower berth needs to be reserved for differently abled and call bell shall be provided.
Overall, the regulation has considered every single plea from the market and the same is now regulated. The regulation haven’t brought any stringent norms like sound level measurement, mandatory provision of seat belts, specific roll over testing for sleeper bus- as centre of Gravity of sleepers are different to that of seater, etc. With onus now left with the full implementation of Bus body code, we will need to see what kind of changes the bus body code along with sleeper bus regulation will enforce in bus design and bus body building.