On the surface, the IC Bus Plant in Tulsa, Okla. may look like any other modern-day factory. But there’s a rich and proud history behind the yellow school buses that roll out on this assembly line every day.
B-25 “Liberator” bombers used to dominate the factory floor during the war effort. Those birds are long gone, and the site that once manufactured instruments of war now assembles instruments of education. Each day up to 75 buses roll out of the plant, which last summer produced its 100,000th bus since opening in 2001.
Fifteen million children ride an IC Bus™ every day of the school week. That’s a lot of wide-eyed wonder leaving the zoo, a lot of anxious athletes delivered to state championships. With freight this precious, safe travel will always be foremost on the makers’ minds.
Talk to any of the plant’s nearly 1,200 workers, and you’ll find that this kind of caring culture is on each of their minds, not just from the time they arrive at 6:30 a.m. to the time they go home, but 24 hours a day. A quick walk along the nearly mile-long assembly line makes it abundantly clear that these employees think of themselves as part of an extended family.
Red Smith, human resources manager at Tulsa Bus Plant, is the man to speak to about the high-quality priorities that define IC Bus. Because children are the cargo, robust braking is key, and the standards required for school vehicles are understandably much more stringent than those that apply to regular heavies hauling commercial loads.
The same holds true with fuel system integrity. Each bus features a diesel tank cradled in a frame so secure that “Superman himself couldn’t bust it open,” Smith says.
The IC Bus “total mirror system” ensures that the driver and passengers are able to see each other at all times. Wide- angle mirrors also cut out any blind spots around the buses so that other vehicles can’t creep up unseen.
This isn’t all, of course. For more about the quality care that goes into making each IC Bus, check out four of the safety tests conducted every day on the Tulsa floor. And take a tour of how we put together each part of an IC Bus, from paint to seats, in this special inside look at Tulsa.