Passenger weight gain spurring change to city buses?

PHOENIX - The Federal Transit Administration is looking into possible changes to new city buses because passengers have gained weight.

In a rules proposal, the agency stated the average passenger weighs 175 pounds, up from 150 pounds several decades ago. The numbers are based off a national health examination survey taken in 1960, as well as the 2008 CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The proposal suggests bus manufacturers review advertised passenger capacities, identify some changes to how buses are built, and if necessary, change vehicle design to reduce passenger capacity. Increasing the amount of floor space for each passenger is also included in the proposal.

“If it is a safety concern, then definitely look into it,” said Joshua Sotelo, who rides the city bus. “It’s not going to hurt to look into it and see what it would do or cost to modify these changes.”

This would affect new buses and would be grandfathered in for bus-testing contracts. The 175 pounds would be the assumed average weight when testing buses.

FTA spokesman Paul Griffo sent ABC 15 this statement:

Transit agencies and manufacturers need to know how buses operate in real world conditions. With today's concern about the state of good repair of our transit systems, every mile of wear and tear counts. Weight matters on a fully loaded bus. This isn't about changing bus requirements, but rather about transparency and helping the industry better understand its needs. It's good for transit riders and taxpayers.

While some bus riders thought this was a good idea, especially if safety is the main concern, others took the proposal personally.

“It’s assuming most Americans are overweight, so in a way that can be offensive to me,” said ASU sophomore Derek Worley.

The assumed average weight of a bus passenger, even at 175 pounds, is less than other means of transportation. The proposal noted the FAA accepts an average weight of about 190 pounds per flier.

The FTA also noted their wouldn’t be any mandatory additional costs for manufacturers and that the changes would mainly be to have testing procedures that “accurately reflect a bus model’s expected usage based on demonstrable scientific data,” which is based off the CDC’s 2008 National Center for Health Statistics.

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