UHMW has mass appeal
in mass transportation
By Bryan Olin

ltra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE) bus curb facing is a maintenance-free application for protecting curbing, platforms and buses from damage during basic stop and precision docking operations. Use of bus curb facings helps the growing number of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems be more cost efficient, reliable and safer. Many large and medium-sized city transit agencies are investing in BRT systems to better and more cost effectively serve growing public transportation requirements.

According to the National Bus Rapid Transit Institute, “BRT is an innovative, high capacity, lower cost public transit solution that can significantly improve urban mobility. This permanent, integrated system uses buses or specialized vehicles on roadways or dedicated lanes to transport passengers quickly and efficiently to their destinations while offering the flexibility to meet transit demand. BRT systems can easily be customized to community needs and incorporate state-of-the-art, low-cost technologies that result in more passengers and less congestion.” (https://nbrti.org/planning-and-construction/)

Level boarding
One efficiency and safety related attribute of almost every BRT system is “level boarding.” This term describes when passengers board and exit buses to and from a bus floor that is at the same level as the station’s platform edge. It is common to see this type of operation within a subway or elevated train system. With buses, a BRT platform is usually elevated and the buses are made for this type of platform. Level boarding is designed to enable faster boarding and deboarding for all passengers, including the elderly, riders in wheelchairs or those with other mobility issues that may otherwise require mechanical lifts or other time-consuming, schedule-impacting assistance. Level boarding greatly reduces bus dwell times, helping to make BRT systems more reliable for customers than lines that have traditional street-level stops.
Reduced boarding gap at a level boarding bus rapid transit platform
Reduced boarding gap at a level boarding bus rapid transit platform.
Driver training platform with custom profiled Polyslick® Bus Curb
Driver training platform with custom profiled Polyslick® Bus Curb.
Boarding gap
When designing a level boarding platform, the safe movement of passengers between the platform and bus floor landings must be considered. The main issue here is the “boarding gap,” or distance of open area between the two landings. If this distance is too large, it will be a hazard for riders.

To help reduce the boarding gap to its minimum, a custom-formulated UHMW-PE bus curb facing that incorporates high visibility colors, robust resistance to UV attack and an added lubricant to further reduce friction is used as a guide mounted to the platform where the door side tires meet the street. The facing’s dimensions are determined with the bus and platform geometry in mind so that when the bus tires are against the UHMW-PE facing, the boarding gap is at its absolute design minimum, making the transition between the landings consistent and as close to seamless as possible. UHMW-PE is one of the most impact- and wear-resistant performance plastics available and has one of the lowest friction coefficients among performance plastics.

Polyslick® Bus Curb protecting the platform and the bus
Polyslick® Bus Curb protects the platform and the bus.
Polyslick® Bus Curb protecting the platform
Polyslick® Bus Curb protects the platform and the bus.
Another key benefit of UHMW-PE bus curb facing is the protection against impact and wear damage provided to the bus tires and wheels, as well as the platform’s concrete or granite curbing. When precision docking is required, this assurance of protection allows bus drivers to confidently and safely impact and glide along the curb’s face, achieving the smallest and safest boarding gap possible.
Polyslick® Bus Curb protecting the curb and the bus at traditional street-level stops
Polyslick® Bus Curb protects the curb and the bus at traditional street-level stops.
Polyslick® Bus Curb Red
Polyslick® Bus Curb Red (standard and custom colors available).
Polyslick® Bus Curb Yellow
Polyslick® Bus Curb Yellow has high visibility, even in low light.
The same concepts are also beneficial at traditional street-level curb bus stops, airport shuttle terminals and retail drive-thru lanes to protect tires and wheels from damage caused by concrete curbing. The material is made with the standard high visibility yellow pigment, which permanently enforces the area while encouraging caution. Thanks to the color being an integrated part of the material, no painting is ever required. UHMW-PE bus curb facing is also resistant to ice and snow management materials and operations, such as salt brine spray and snowplows. Flame retardants and other additives that reduce smoke density and toxicity are incorporated for safer underground use in bus tunnels.

UHMW-PE bus curb facing delivers a virtually maintenance-free solution that helps BRT systems operate more effectively and efficiently.

Bryan Olin is the technical sales specialist for Polymer Industries. For more information, contact Polymer Industries at 10526 Burton Drive, Henagar, AL 35978-0032 USA; phone (256) 657-5197, fax (256) 657-5189, sales@polymerindustries.com or www.polymerindustries.com.