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Bus Testing Determination and Authorization Process

The process for requesting full testing of a new bus model, or partial testing of a previously tested bus model being produced with significant changes, has changed significantly with publication of the August 1, 2016 Bus Testing Regulation, also known as the "Pass/Fail" regulation.

The Bus Testing Regulation states that it is the responsibility of the recipient in dealing with a manufacturer to determine whether a vehicle to be acquired is subject to the requirements of the regulation (49 CFR Part 665.7(b) ). If a manufacturer or other entity is uncertain whether the change(s) to a bus model are major, they may request guidance from FTA in determining whether the proposed changes would require additional full or partial testing. 

This process is described in 49 CFR Part 665.21, which says:

  • All requests for testing, including requests for full, partial, or repeat testing, shall be submitted to the FTA Bus Testing Program Manager for review prior to scheduling with the operator of the Bus Testing Facility. All test requests shall provide:
    • A detailed description of the new bus model to be tested
    • The service life category of the bus
    • Engineering documentation characterizing all major changes to the bus model 
    • Documentation that demonstrates satisfaction of each one of the testing requirements outlined in section 665.11(a) [see table below].
  • FTA will review the request, determine if the bus model is eligible for testing, and provide an initial response within five business days. FTA will prepare a written response to the requester for use in scheduling the required testing.
  • To schedule a bus for testing, a manufacturer shall contact the operator of the Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center and provide the FTA response to the test request. Contact information and procedures for scheduling testing are available on the Altoona Bus Testing website.
  • When contacting the operator, the operator shall provide the manufacturer with:
    • A draft contract for the testing
    • A fee schedule
    • Test procedures for the tests that will be conducted on the vehicle.
  • The operator shall process vehicles FTA has approved for testing in the order in which the contracts are signed.

The following table provides a checklist of the information manufacturers must provide for Bus Testing authorizations. Please send questions about different bus models in separate inquiries but aggregate questions about closely related bus models.

Please Note:

  • Discrepancies between the bus model name, data, and configuration that were submitted in an authorization request, and the actual bus delivered for testing, may delay or even prevent testing of that bus.
  • A test bus that is not equipped with operational wheelchair lift(s) and/or ramp(s) is not substantially representative of a bus model that will be sold with corresponding lift(s) and/or ramp(s).

Information needed to authorize the start of a Bus Test Required by 49 CFR Section Include in test authorization request sent to FTA Verified at Altoona before test starts
For full testing of new bus models – Detailed description of the new bus model to be tested including information such as the vehicle configuration, the fuel/drive type, curb weight, axle and gross vehicle weight ratings, the number of seats, and (if applicable) the chassis make and model and a description of any modifications to the chassis. 665.21(a)

For partial testing of variants of previously-tested bus models – Information described above for a new bus model, as well as engineering-level documentation characterizing all major changes to the bus model, citation of applicable prior Bus Testing Report(s), and descriptions of changes to the new version relative to the previously-tested version(s), etc. 665.21(a)

The service life category that the bus will be tested and sold in. 665.21(a)

Specified in testing contract
Evidence of compliance with NHTSA requirements at 49 CFR part 565 Vehicle Identification Number Requirements; 49 CFR part 566 Manufacturer Identification; 49 CFR part 567 Certification; and where applicable, 49 CFR part 568 Vehicle Manufactured in Two or More Stages— All Incomplete, Intermediate and Final- Stage Manufacturers of Vehicle Manufactured in Two or More Stages. 665.11(a) Statement of compliance Demonstrated by manufacturer’s information (VIN) plate
Evidence that DBE goals have been submitted to FTA pursuant to 49 CFR Part 26. 665.11(a) FTA will verify listing on “Eligible TVMs List”  
Documentation of the maximum rated quantity of standee passengers on the interior bulkhead in 2-inch tall or greater characters. 665.11(a) State maximum rated standee quantity

Evidence that the bus meets all applicable FMVSS. 665.11(a) Statement of compliance Demonstrated by manufacturer’s information (VIN) plate
Evidence and/or certification that the bus to be tested is substantially fabricated and assembled using the techniques, tooling, and materials that will be used in production of subsequent buses of that model. 665.11(a) Statement of compliance  
Documentation of the manufacturing point of origin for the bus structure, the axles, the foundation brakes, the propulsion power system and auxiliary power systems (engine, transmission, traction batteries, electric motor(s), fuel cell(s)), and the primary energy storage and delivery systems (fuel tanks, fuel injectors & manifolds, and the fuel injection electronic control unit). You may also wish to note the manufacturing point of origin of other major bus components not listed above. 665.11(a)

Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2019
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