In a June 13, 1994 “Dear Colleague” letter, the FTA Administrator established a policy exempting “prototype” or “new technology demonstration” vehicles from the requirements of the Bus Testing Regulation. FTA’s current prototype vehicle policy consists of the following principles:
- The Bus Testing requirements do not apply to prototype vehicles, which FTA defines as the first five (5) pre-production/new technology demonstration vehicles incorporating a major new design or major new components.
- If a manufacturer sells or leases more than a total of five prototype vehicles of a given type, regardless of whether it is to a single grantee or to multiple grantees of FTA financial assistance, FTA will consider any buses beyond the original five to be production-ready vehicles and thus subject to all Bus Testing Requirements.
- To be eligible for consideration as a prototype, a vehicle must utilize significant new technology or design features that have not previously been applied in the transit industry or in similar applications, AND which may be expected to require significant refinement, optimization, or operating experience before the manufacturer can reasonably commit the design feature or component to production.
- A prototype waiver applies to the vehicle as an integrated unit. The addition or installation of a new or untested component onto an existing vehicle would not qualify that vehicle for a prototype vehicle exemption. Instead, that vehicle might be eligible for a partial testing evaluation.
- Prototype waivers are approved by FTA on a case-by-case basis. Contact the FTA Bus Testing Program Manager for guidance.