Bus Testing

On August 1, 2016, FTA announced a final rule for bus testing for improving the process of ensuring the safety and reliability of new transit buses. The rule satisfies requirements in MAP-21 to establish minimum performance standards, a standardized scoring system, and a pass-fail threshold that will better inform local transit agencies as they evaluate and purchase buses.

FTA’s Model Bus Testing Program (often referred to as “Altoona Testing” due to the location of the main testing center) tests new transit bus models for:

  • safety
  • structural integrity and durability
  • reliability
  • performance (including brakes)
  • maintainability
  • noise
  • fuel economy and
  • emissions

Bus models that fail to meet one or more minimum performance standards will “fail” their test and thus be ineligible for purchase with FTA funds until the failures are resolved. FTA will use this authority to make sure defects are fixed before vehicles are allowed to go into service.

The rule also will generate data from the scoring system that makes it easier to compare similar bus models from different manufacturers. Test results for a particular bus model are compiled in a report; an FTA grantee must certify that it has received a copy of the test report prior to final acceptance of the first vehicle.