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Bus Testing

Latest Updates to the Bus Testing Program

This website provides a single point of reference for definitive, complete, and current information on the FTA New Model Bus Testing Program – including the regulations, policies, procedures, and interpretations that direct and guide the program.  Until now, information on the Bus Testing Program has existed in a number of locations and formats, some of them previously unpublished.  The goal of this website is to include, or explicitly reference the definitive and current source of all information essential to understanding, utilizing, and complying with the requirements of the Bus Testing Program.  Please use the provided feedback links to identify any incorrect, missing, or outdated information, or to offer suggestions for enhancements to the site.

FTA’s New Model Bus Testing Program (often referred to as “Altoona Testing” due to the location of the primary test facility) tests new transit bus models for safety, structural integrity and durability, reliability, performance, maintainability, noise, and fuel economy.  Additional test procedures for emissions and braking are under development. 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.

Through September 2008, over 325 new bus models have been tested, resulting in over 7,870 documented failures, 38 of which could have resulted in serious injuries or significant property damage had they occurred in revenue service.  Many would have adversely impacted service (e.g., resulting in road calls stranding passengers), and all would have increased maintenance costs by requiring corrective maintenance actions.  By testing new bus models before they are purchased, grantees and manufacturers can often address problems before the fleet is built, potentially saving considerable money and time and avoiding inconveniencing passengers.  The Bus Testing Reports have recently been made available online through the Bus Testing Database, where they can then be searched and filtered to facilitate comparisons between different bus models. 

Authority:  The Bus Testing Program is authorized by Statute at 49 USC Section 5318.  The Program is administered under FTA’s implementing regulation at 49 CFR Part 665, which is commonly referred to as the “Bus Testing Regulation.”

Applicability:  The Bus Testing Program applies to recipients of FTA capital assistance who purchase new model transit buses or existing bus models being produced with a major change.  The Bus Testing Program is generally not applicable to purchasers of school buses or over-the-road motorcoaches, unless those buses are being acquired with FTA funding for use in public transportation service.

Updated: Wednesday, March 16, 2016
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