Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fat Americans Need More Space on Buses

Michelle Obama's war on obesity is getting some support from the Federal Transit Administration: It wants to beef up bus-testing regulations to account for the increased poundage of its passengers.

After studying the fats, er, facts, the FTA is proposing to change the average passenger weight from 150 to 175 pounds and the floor space occupied per standing passenger from 1.5 to 1.75 square feet.

And because passengers are getting heftier, the FTA wants to update the structural strength and distortion test procedures to ensure that buses don't get busted from too many people busting their pants.

According to the official docket, the regulatory change is needed because not only are Americans bigger than they used to be, but there's a big problem with the current testing procedures: A number of buses tested at the FTA's Bus Testing Center had not been tested in their fully loaded condition with all seats and standing positions occupied.

Apparently, that was because doing so would have caused the actual weight to exceed either the gross vehicle weight ratings or a front or rear gross axle weight rating.

As a result, the test data might not reflect the actual performance of these buses in real-life service, particularly during rush hour when operators frequently allow all seats and aisles to be filled without regard to regulations, to avoid leaving passengers behind at a stop.

Read the proposal here.

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