Federal Transit Administration to change weight regulations

Font Size:

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is proposing an increase to the average passenger weight used in its bus testing regulations.

In an effort to better reflect the average American’s girth, the FTA is considering changing the average passenger’s weight from 150lbs to 175lbs and increasing the average occupied floor space from 1.5 to 1.75 square feet. They also plan to update the tests for “Structural Strength and Distortion”- a method to gauge a vehicle’s structural integrity.

The proposal is part of a recent trend across transportation agencies to incrementally raise passenger weight averages. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Coast Guard have both in recent months upped their passenger weight estimates as well.

All these changes have been based on the fact that Americans have gotten fatter.

The FTA’s current passenger weight estimate is based on numbers from the National Health Examination Survey for 1960-1962. The new numbers will be pulled from the Center for Disease Control’s 2008 National Health Statistics Report.

“FTA wishes to emphasize that it is not proposing the increase to 175 pounds in order to ‘toughen’ the testing protocol,” an FTA memo reads. “Rather, this action is being proposed in order to ensure that the Bus Testing protocols better reflect the actual loads that buses are already carrying in service today.”

The FTA has opened the process up to comments. The comment period will run from today until May 13, 2011. Once the final rules are published, manufacturers will have one year to meet the final capacity regulations.

Follow Caroline on Twitter