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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Bus Testing Requirements Determination and Testing Authorization Process

The contents of this page do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This page is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. Recipients and subrecipients should refer to FTA’s statutes and regulations for applicable bus testing requirements.
A test battery-electric bus performing a safety test at the Bus Testing Center


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, changed significantly with publication of the August 1, 2016 Final Rule, codified at 49 CFR Part 665, also known as the "Pass/Fail" regulation.

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

Full testing is also generally available for variants of previously tested bus models that are eligible for Partial Testing. Opting for full testing will save the time required for FTA review of partial testing requirements and will make the report easier for grantees to use.

The checklist below summarizes the information regarding a bus proposed for testing that 49 CFR § 665.11 and 49 CFR § 665.21 require bus manufacturers to submit to the FTA using the Bus Testing Portal when seeking a determination of Bus Testing requirements, and/or a testing authorization for that bus. The Bus Testing Portal is designed to prompt submitters for all of the required information and is now the expected way for bus manufacturers to contact FTA to request Bus Testing determinations and authorizations.

A bus manufacturer must receive a testing authorization from FTA before the Bus Testing and Research Center can begin testing a bus. The Bus Testing Portal will automatically provide a copy of FTA’s testing authorization and the supporting information about the bus model to the Bus Testing and Research Center  immediately after FTA authorizes the test.  

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). If a bus manufacturer plans to sell a bus model equipped with a wheelchair lift(s) or ramp(s) to a recipient, that is the configuration that should be submitted for testing. 

The Bus Testing Portal will prompt submitters to provide each element of the information required for FTA to make a determination of Bus Testing requirements and/or an authorization to begin testing. The table below is provided to assist bus manufacturers in anticipating the information they will need to provide.

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 Bus Testing Center before and/or during testing
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) Narrative description, specifications, photos, drawings, etc. Significant discrepancies between the described configuration and the test bus may delay or halt testing.
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) Narrative description, specifications, photos, drawings, etc. Significant discrepancies between the described configuration and the test bus may delay or halt testing.
The service life category that the bus will be tested and sold in. 665.21(a) Statement 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) Listing on FTA “Eligible TVMs List,” or provide a copy of your DBE Goal submission letter to FTA.  
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 If loading the bus to the designated standee capacity causes the bus to exceed one or more vehicle, axle, or tire weight ratings, testing will be halted until the discrepancy is resolved.
Evidence that the bus meets all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). 665.11(a) Statement of compliance Evidence that a test bus does not meet applicable FMVSS may render it ineligible to start or continue testing.
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 Evidence that a test bus is not representative of production units may render it ineligible to start or continue testing.
Documentation of the manufacturing point (country) 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) State the country that each of the specified components of the test bus (as applicable) were manufactured in. Discrepancies between the stated countries of origin and the actual origin of the components on the test bus may delay or halt testing.