Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2
Durham School Services 01089
Manufacturer Thomas Built Buses
Also called C2
Production 2004-present
Predecessor Thomas Conventional
Thomas/Freightliner FS-65
Thomas Vista
Class Type C
Layout conventional 4x2
Body style(s) school bus
Engine(s) see listing
Wheelbase 158–279 inches (4.0–7.1 m)[1]
Width 96 inches (2.4 m)
Curb weight 18,000–35,000 pounds (8,200–16,000 kg) (GVWR)
Related Freightliner C2
Freightliner M2 Business Class

The Saf-T-Liner C2 is a Type C school bus built by Thomas Built Buses, introduced in the fall of 2004. It is a replacement for the Thomas Conventional and the Thomas/Freightliner FS-65 Type C school bus; it also can be viewed as a successor to the Vista line of Type C buses from the 1990s.


The C2 is unique in that it is available in capacities up to 84 passengers, the largest of any type C conventional school bus in current production.[2] It is visually distinguished from its competitors' type C school buses by its low, sloped hood and a large, curved, bonded windshield, said to resist chips by more effectively deflecting objects.[3] The windshield is sloped back and corners on the bus' front end are smoothed out to produce a more streamlined appearance. Even the flashing warning lights at the top of the vehicle are made flush with the windscreen.

In addition to a unique outward appearance, the C2 makes use of modern manufacturing techniques. Many joints use adhesive bonding, reducing or eliminating the need for welds or rivets in many cases. Where required, self-piercing rivets are used, which ideally do not punch through the bottom layer of the metals being joined together, thus reducing the chance that rivets will become the source of leaks in the future.

While the large windshield is an obvious place where there is more window area, other windows have been expanded on the C2 as well, both increasing viewing area and increasing the size of emergency exits which are in removable window frames. The rear windows and rear emergency exit door have also been expanded compared to previous Thomas buses.[4]

Another claimed innovation is the introduction of a multiplexed wiring system, where multiple electrical devices communicate over the same wires, rather than being individually wired. This reduces the number of wires running through the vehicle, which can help reduce maintenance in the future. In the system used in the C2, it also has the advantage that switches on the control panel next to the driver can be rearranged to suit the driver and continue to function without any rewiring or reprogramming.


The C2 is offered with two engines; Cummins ISB-07 and the Mercedes-Benz MBE 900.[5]

There have been reports of excessive lube oil usage in 2007 emissions-compliant Mercedes-Benz engines. Apparently, the problem corrects itself after 20,000 miles of service. If the customer does not want to wait or does not see an improvement in oil consumption, they can opt to have a replacement Cummins ISB installed in the bus.


School bus - Thomas - Saf-T-Liner C2 - rear view - Kennebunk

Rear view of a Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2.

The C2 is the successor to the Thomas/Freightliner FS-65 Type C conventional school bus which ended production on December 13, 2006.[6] That model line had a history extending back to 1962, although the FS-65 itself was introduced in 1995. The Saf-T-Liner C2 is built at a $40 million manufacturing facility in High Point, North Carolina.[7]

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