Altoona Testing

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Third Party Procurement

Frequently Asked Questions

Q = Question; A = Answer

Q. Does FTA require any Altoona testing of automobiles, and is there any prohibition against this type of purchase with Federal funds?

A. Altoona testing does not apply to automobiles. There is no prohibition of using Federal funds to purchase autos as long as it is consistent with your grant terms. You can check with your grant manager to be sure. Remember that the Buy America requirements (certification, contract clause, etc.) will apply if the procurement exceeds $100,000.

Q. Is it possible for bus manufacturers to perform the "Altoona" testing at proving grounds of their choice if the requirements can be met? The Bosch Automotive Proving Grounds in New Carlisle, IN, has the capabilities required to meet the Altoona Bus testing requirements. What would we need to do to become an alternate source for this testing?

A. FTA thanks you for your interest in offering an alternative site for bus testing. However, the Program is constrained by statute from conducting testing of new transit bus models at another facility. Federal Acquisition Regulation 49 U.S.C. Sec. 5318(a) states, "The Secretary of Transportation shall establish one facility for testing a new bus model for maintainability, reliability, safety, performance (including braking performance), structural integrity, fuel economy, emissions, and noise."

Q. Has the Dodge Sprinter bus been Altoona Tested?

A. The Dodge Sprinter bus has completed testing at the Altoona Bus Testing Center. It finished quite recently, and the database hasn't yet been updated to show the report, but a copy of the report is attached.

Q. Do "TRAMS" used by the National Park Service at the Cape Cod National Seashore need to be Altoona Tested IAW the Bus Testing Regulation (49 CFR Part 665)? The Trams System consists of a Power Car and Trailing unit. The Power Car is a Ford E-350 DRW cutaway chassis-Minimum GVWR: 10,000 lbs at 20 MPH, Capacity: 20 Adults, Maximum speed: 25 MPH. The training unit(s) - GVWR 8,700 lbs at 20 MPH, Capacity: 28 Adults, Length 25 ft, and Width 9 ft. This is competitive, firm fixed price acquisition with NO Altoona testing requirement. The firm whose tram is Altoona tested asserts, "All federally funded vehicles are required to be tested to ensure the vehicle meets government requirements." Our government position is that the "TRAM" is not covered by the Bus Testing Regulation (49 CFR 665) and that since funding is supplied by the Interior Department, National Park Service and NOT by the Federal Transit Authority, Title 49 USC 665 does not apply.

A. The FTA Bus Testing Regulation (49 CFR Part 665) only applies to buses acquired with FTA funding. Therefore, FTA ("Altoona") Bus Testing is not required for vehicles purchased with non-FTA funding, such as the NPS funding you have referenced in your question. (Posted: March 2009).

Q. We want to buy some buses from China as Airport shuttle buses running between the terminal building and rental car center near the airport. Does this kind of bus need Altoona Testing? What kinds of other certification or tests are needed to export the Chinese bus to the US?

A. FTA's Bus Testing Regulation (49 CFR Part 665) only applies to buses acquired with FTA funding to provide public transportation service. Airport terminal/rental car shuttles are not considered public transportation and are not funded by FTA. Therefore, the Chinese shuttle bus described would not need to complete "Altoona" testing if it is being acquired for such service without using FTA funds.

There are other requirements that must be met however before a bus can be sold in the U.S. (e.g., compliance with safety and emissions standards). We don't have expertise in such requirements and would refer you to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/) and the Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/) for assistance with these requirements. It's possible that you may need to contact the Departments of Commerce and/or Customs as well. (Posted: January 2010)

Q. I am trying to purchase two E-350 vans from Ford. The grant person who is my contact wants the Altoona testing certificate from the Ford dealer but the dealer cannot find this information. Does this testing requirement apply to this type of vehicle?

A. The requirement for Altoona testing would depend on the extent (if any) to which the vans are modified from the stock configuration. If these are unmodified Ford E-350 vans, or they have had only limited modifications (e.g., adding a lift or raised roof) performed in strict compliance with Ford's Vehicle Modification Guidelines, then the Bus Testing Regulation (49 CFR Part 665) would consider them to be "unmodified mass-produced vans" and they would be exempt from Bus Testing ("Altoona testing") requirements if offered in the 4-year/100,000-mile service life category. It sounds as if you would buy the vehicles directly from Ford. If that's the case, these vehicles would likely qualify as unmodified mass-produced vans.

From the FTA Bus Testing page:

Unmodified mass-produced van means a van that is mass-produced, complete and fully assembled as provided by an OEM. This shall include vans with raised roofs, and/or wheelchair lifts, or ramps that are installed by the OEM, or by a party other than the OEM provided that the installation of these components is completed in strict conformance with the OEM modification guidelines.

FTA wishes to clarify that this exemption historically assumed that unmodified mass-produced vans would only be offered in the 4-year, 100,000-mile service life category. Unmodified mass-produced vans are categorically exempted from testing by the Bus Testing Regulation only in the 4-year, 100,000-mile service life category; unmodified mass-produced vans offered in the 5-year, 150,000-mile (or higher) service life category are subject to testing.

Feel free to follow up with Gregory Rymarz if you have any additional questions.

Mr. Gregory Rymarz
Bus Testing Program Manager
Federal Transit Administration
Office of Mobility Innovation, TRI-12
Room E43-465
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE
East Building, 4th floor
Washington, DC 20590
Phone: 202-366-6410
Fax: 202-366-3765
E-mail: gregory.rymarz@dot.gov

(Posted: January 2010)

Q. Where can I find a copy of the most recent list of Buses tested? I am looking for the test report number for New Flyer SR1310 Hybrid gasoline-electric bus.

A. The first place to check for Bus Testing Reports is the Bus Testing Database, which is available at http://www.altoonabustest.com/. You may find that the "Compare Buses" option is the easiest way to browse for reports in most cases. If a Bus Testing Report is relatively new, it may not be in the database yet, in which case you can call the Altoona Bus Testing Center staff for assistance at 814-695-3404. (Posted: April 2010)

Q. We are in the process of putting information together for the RI Public Transit Authority for the procurement of vehicles to be used in the New Freedom program. The Procurement Director of RIPTA is sure these vehicles would have to pass the 'Altoona testing' process to be used for New Freedom -- Vehicles that will be purchased for this service will be 'wheelchair-accessible minivans -- The vendors for those vehicles are 'adamant' that mini-vans do NOT require the 'Altoona testing. I have just started looking through information on your web-site and have yet to find a reference to 'mini-vans'. Can you help me on this one?

A. The Bus Testing Regulation and related Federal Register notices exempt UNMODIFIED mass-produced vans from testing (only if they're sold as 4-year/100,000-mile service life category buses). Minor modifications are permitted (e.g., adding lifts or raising a roof) as long as the modifications are performed in strict compliance with the OEM's Vehicle Modification Guidelines.

Wheelchair-accessible minivans typically have dropped floors and revised suspensions. These are major changes from the stock van and therefore Altoona testing is generally required. There are a number of wheelchair-accessible minivans that have "Altoona" Bus Testing Reports available. (Posted: December, 2010)

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