Did you ever wonder why a bus has a big, horizontal steering wheel instead of one more like a car’s? Me too, so I asked Metro Transit in Minnesota why bus steering wheels are designed that way.
Here’s their reply:
The answer to your question lies in the fact that the room available in the front of the bus is very limited. Because the engine, transmission and other driveline components are in the back of the bus, the front area is kept as short as possible in order to increase space for passengers. At the same time, this area has to be large enough to accommodate the bus driver and the equipment needed to operate the bus.
One way to help maximize the driver’s area while keeping the front of the bus compact is to mount the steering column in a vertical orientation. I believe that all transit bus manufacturers use this strategy to accomplish this. Just so you know, the steering wheel can be tilted and it also telescopes to fit the needs of various operators, so the vertical orientation is not as much of an issue as it might seem.
Thanks, Charles Wurzinger of Metro Transit!