Fatter Passengers May Lead to Bus Design Changes in U.S.

The U.S. government may adapt the formula it uses to write municipal-bus safety rules because the average passenger is getting heavier, a change that could lead to changes in bus design.

The Federal Transit Administration, based in Washington, proposed raising the assumed average weight per passenger to 175 pounds (79 kilograms) from 150 pounds, and calculating an additional quarter of a square foot per passenger, for its testing procedures. The proposal was published in today’s Federal Register.

The agency, part of the Transportation Department, said it submitted the change because commenters on an earlier bus safety rule suggested it increase the average passenger weight “to an amount that more accurately reflects the changes to the average weight of Americans over the last several decades.”

Buses allow “crush loads” with all seats full and passengers standing in the aisles at rush hours, the transit administration said. For U.S. adults, the average weight for men is 194.7 pounds and 164.7 pounds for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Bus manufacturers, which include Daimler AG (DAI) and Volvo AB (VOLVB), may choose to upgrade chassis, tires, wheels, brakes or suspensions to carry more weight, the transit agency said in the proposed rule. Vehicle upgrades, which the rule would not mandate, could cost as much as $25,000, the agency said.

Spokesmen for the Federal Transit Administration and the American Public Transportation Association, a Washington-based public transportation advocate, had no immediate comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Angela Greiling Keane in Washington at agreilingkea@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net

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