Fat-Passenger Bus Tests No Longer Necessary, U.S. Says

The U.S. Transportation Department is dropping a proposal that would have asked makers of transit buses to test new models on their ability stand up to wear and tear caused by heavier passengers.

The Federal Transit Administration won’t require the tests, which would have assumed U.S. bus riders weigh an average of 175 pounds instead of 150 pounds, the agency said in a Federal Register notice today.

A highway policy bill Congress passed earlier this year included new testing requirements, eliminating the need for the proposed regulations, the agency said.

The transit administration in March 2011 floated the idea of tougher bus-testing requirements so transit systems using federal funds were purchasing buses that would hold up to the strains of carrying passengers who’ve gotten heavier along the rest of the U.S. population.

Besides assuming an extra 25 pounds per rider, manufacturers were told to plan on an additional quarter of a square foot of space per passenger in bus designs.

Bus manufacturers, which include Daimler AG (DAI) and Volvo AB (VOLVB), would have been able to choose among ways to meet the requirements in tests that presumed heavier passengers. They could have upgraded the chassis, tires, wheels, brakes or suspensions, or lowering the number of passengers that their vehicles were rated to carry.

The FTA is opting for a more comprehensive bus-safety program specified in the highway law, including pass/fail standards for testing, Brian Farber, an agency spokesman, said in an e-mail. The agency will work with bus manufacturers and transit agencies to develop the new rules, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Plungis in Washington at jplungis@bloomberg.net

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

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