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Howard Payne deliberately rigged the bus with an elaborate hydraulic suspension system so that it could allow the bus to clear that jump if necessary.
I might be going out on a limb here, but considering how Howard had gone and rigged not just one, but another smaller bomb for the escapee, there wouldn't be any better explanation than for Howard to have installed such a system as a means to further prolong the situation and toy with the hostages more, if it meant getting the ransom or otherwise.
  • It should also be noted that upon the bus jumping, it is launched upwards without the use of a ramp as if it is being propelled by hydraulics from underneath.
Speed 3 is canon.

It was certainly better quality than Speed 2.


Howard Payne's career-ending injury wasn't just his hand
Considering the man's insanity, it's possible, even likely, that the explosion that injured his hand and ended his career had also injured his brain. Brain injuries can change personalities. Pre-injury, Howard Payne probably would never have even thought about such a plan. Even if he had faced early retirement with just an injured hand, the man could've easily made money by other legal means as a consultant or started his own business (his workmanship seems second-to-none).

Payne used the workman's body to fake his own death.
At the award ceremony for Jack and Harry, the commissioner (or whoever) even mentions "only the bomber" died, even though Payne killed the workman who caught him monkeying with the elevator controls. And to think Payne died in the explosion, the police would've needed to find a body. So after killing the workman, Payne rigged him with explosives and stuck him in the parking garage, then set the bombs off after escaping. This is, after all, explicitly what he plans to do with Annie later. He tells her "Mess like that, they don't count body parts," implying that in such cases the authorities wouldn't bother ID-ing the body and just assume it was the perpetrator's.

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