Blue Bird TC/2000
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (April 2011)|
|Blue Bird TC/2000|
|Manufacturer||Blue Bird Corporation|
|Assembly||Fort Valley, Georgia
Mount Pleasant, Iowa
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
|Designer||Blue Bird Corporation|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Type D (transit-style)|
|Body style||School bus
|Layout||Front-engine 4x2 (1988-2003)
Rear-engine 4x2 (1991-1998)
|Related||Blue Bird CS
Blue Bird TC/1000
|Predecessor||Blue Bird All American (1962-1988)|
|Successor||Blue Bird All American (1999-2009)|
The Blue Bird TC/2000 is a Type D school bus that was produced by Blue Bird Corporation (then Blue Bird Body Company) from 1988 to 2003. Introduced as a lower-cost alternative to the long-running All American line of transit-style school buses, the TC/2000 was produced in both front-engine and rear-engine versions.
After several minor updates during the 1990s, the TC/2000 was discontinued in 2003. The rear-engine version was not replaced, while the role of the front-engine model was largely taken over by the All American Front Engine; a new generation had been introduced in 1999.
All American: A Premium Product
In 1948, the Blue Bird All American was the first transit-style school bus to be popularized by an East Coast manufacturer. California-based manufacturers Crown, Gillig and Seattle-based Kenworth-Pacific had introduced transit-style school buses long before Blue Bird; while these were marketed outside the West Coast, they did not achieve a national following. A common theme among all transit-style school buses from their introduction and into the 1980s was that each manufacturer used transit-style (Type D) school buses as the flagships of their lineup; they were premium products that were not often purchased for fleet orders. The slowing economy of the late 1970s and early 1980s magnified the importance of large fleet sales, as the end of the baby-boom era reduced the overall demand for school buses.
With the All American's design, Blue Bird had chosen a path of slow evolution. By 1987, the All American had been on the market virtually unchanged for 25 years; Blue Bird was looking for an updated design to sell for a lower price (to attract large fleet orders) without cutting too many corners on quality.
TC/2000: New Markets for Transit-Style School Buses
The TC/2000 was introduced for 1988 using essentially the same exterior design as the All American with minor changes intended to lower its production costs. The majority of these design changes were visible on the front. The All American's massive amount of chrome trim was pared down significantly; four headlights were replaced with two. When the All American was redesigned in 1989, the headlight count became the easiest way to tell the two buses apart.
Inside, the All American's side control panel was retained in the interest of parts commonality, but the rest of the driver's compartment was unique. The All American's wood-panel dashboard was replaced with a black fiberboard design with the instruments positioned closer to the driver (who was greeted with a smaller steering wheel). Student seating capacity ranged from 54 to 90 in the FE and 66 to 84 in the RE (introduced in 1991).
As the TC/2000 was focused on being a no-frills design, hydraulic brakes and a gasoline engine were standard specifications, but most were ordered with diesel engines and some were ordered with air brakes. From 1988 to 1990, it was manufactured only in a front-engine version to streamline manufacturing costs (most manufacturers developed front and rear-engined transit-style buses). In 1991, a rear-engine version was introduced as an effort to attract more West Coast buyers.
End of Production
With the 1997 introduction of the TC/1000, Blue Bird produced a total of five distinct transit-style school buses. However, the variety would lead to some model overlap. In 1998, Blue Bird discontinued the rear-engine version of the TC/2000. It was indirectly replaced by the new-for-1999 All American RE. Blue Bird's financial problems of the early 2000s led to the discontinuation of the TC/2000 FE at the end of 2003 in an effort to consolidate its Type D school bus lineup.
Changes and Revisions
Although the All American line was famous for slow evolution, Blue Bird made a number of visible revisions early on in the TC/2000's life cycle.
- The TC/2000 RE was introduced to attract buyers on the West Coast. In front, a grille-less version of the 1988-1990 front end clip was used.
- The TC/2000 FE received a new front end clip with a flip-up access cover for the radiator and other parts. This was done by moving the headlight bar and front bumper forward several inches. To make it fit on the access panel, Blue Bird created front-end lettering smaller than that used on the All American. Inside, the design of the engine cover was modified to improve access for the stepwell and driver seat.
In 1992, Blue Bird made significant changes to the front bodywork of both versions of the TC/2000; this can be considered the "second-generation" version. As the TC/2000 used smaller engines (and therefore, a smaller radiator) than the 1980s All Americans, the base of the windshield was moved several inches lower to increase forward visibility. The front end access panel was redesigned from a 1-piece design into 3 pieces (a swing-down grille and two swing-out access doors); this allowed for better fit and finish of the headlight bar and front bumper. On TC/2000 RE models, the front bodywork was shared; a faux grille differentiated it from the All American RE (which had no front grille).
- 1993 models
- The TC/2000 FE gained a lower-profile engine cover.
- 1994 models
- The Blue Bird-designed instrument panel was replaced with a GM-sourced one; it was identical to the one used in the CV200 conventional.
- 1995 models
- Blue Bird dropped the Chevrolet 427 gasoline engine option from the lineup.
- 1999 models
- The headlight bar changed to an all-yellow design, losing its black stripe.
- The TC/2000 RE model was dropped at the end of 1998, as the All American RE was redesigned for 1999.
- The GM-sourced instrument cluster was replaced by a Blue Bird design fitted into the same dashboard binnacle.
- 2001 models
- The dashboard was replaced with a design sourced from the All American.
- 2002 models
- The side control panel was replaced with a design sourced from the All American. No other changes were made when model was discontinued in 2003.
To keep the price down, Blue Bird simplified the powertrain lineup with a single gasoline engine (a Chevrolet 427 cubic-inch V8) and a single diesel engine (a Cummins 6BTA5.9/ISB inline-6). Theoretically, a manual transmission was available, but almost all TC/2000s were supplied with an Allison AT-545 automatic transmission. When the TC/2000 RE was added in 1991, the Caterpillar 3116 and Allison MT-643 were added to the lineup; however, these were exclusive to the RE. After 1995, the gasoline engine choice was dropped due to the popularity of diesel engines in Type D school buses.
|Engine Name||Chevrolet 427 cubic-inch V8||Cummins 6BTA5.9/ISB||Caterpillar 3116|
|Usage||TC/2000 FE only||
||TC/2000 RE only|
Over its lifetime, the TC/2000 was assembled in five of Blue Bird's manufacturing facilities.
- Blue Bird Body Company (Fort Valley, Georgia)
- Blue Bird North Georgia (LaFayette, Georgia); closed 2010
- Blue Bird Midwest (Mount Pleasant, Iowa); closed in 2002.
- Blue Bird Canada (Brantford, Ontario); closed in 2007
- Blue Bird East (Buena Vista, Virginia); closed in 1993
- Blue Bird TC/1000 (1997-2001)
The TC/1000 was a variant of the TC/2000 FE intended primarily for buyers who transported special-needs students. After 1998, the TC/1000 received its own body design, which featured squarer roof corners for more head room, and different roof caps. Later TC/1000s are also distinguishable from the TC/2000 by their smaller wheels, which allow for a completely flat floor (and more wheelchair capacity). The TC/1000 was not a large success, as its competition was less expensive Type A school buses. However, some of its body design (such as its squared-off roof) was integrated into the 2010 model of the All American, which also features a flat-floor option.
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