FTA Proposes Rule to Improve Testing Safety, Reliability of New Transit Buses

FTA Proposes Rule to Improve Testing Safety, Reliability of New Transit Buses
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June 23, 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) that would improve the process for testing the safety and reliability of new transit buses funded with federal dollars.

The FTA says that the proposed rule would establish minimum performance standards, a new pass-fail grading system for bus testing, and a weighted scoring process that would better assist local transit agencies in purchasing an appropriate vehicle.

In addition, the agency says that the proposed rule would clarify and improve verification of two Departmental regulations: the Buy America requirements that have stimulated American manufacturing of transit vehicles, components and related technology; and the rules that support businesses owned by women and minorities (Disadvantaged Business Enterprises) throughout the supply chain.

"Millions of riders depend on transit buses every day to get to work, school, healthcare, and home again," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "While buses are already a very safe mode of travel, transit customers deserve to know that the buses they ride on are as safe and reliable as possible."

The proposed rule would require that new buses meet minimum thresholds in structural integrity, safety, maintainability, reliability, fuel economy, emissions, noise, and performance. The FTA says that the rule would also refine and streamline the existing standardized procedures used by the FTA Bus Testing Facility at Pennsylvania State University's Larson Transportation Institute in Altoona, Pa.

"When the FTA helps local transit agencies purchase new buses, it is imperative that those vehicles are a high-quality investment," said FTA Acting Administrator Therese McMillan. "This proposed rule would help ensure buses are long lasting and low maintenance, saving transit agencies valuable resources and reducing the frustrating delays that riders endure when buses have to be removed from service unexpectedly."

The FTA says that the proposed bus testing rule was developed following extensive outreach to its partners across the transit industry, including transit vehicle manufacturers, component suppliers, public transit agencies, and state departments of transportation. The agency says that outreach efforts will continue throughout the comment period to solicit feedback on the proposed rule from these and other stakeholders.