Study & report to Congress : applicability of maximum axle weight limitations to over-the-road and public transit buses
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Study & report to Congress : applicability of maximum axle weight limitations to over-the-road and public transit buses

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  • Abstract:
    The Senate Report on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 U.S. Department of Transportation

    (DOT) appropriations bill requested that the Department conduct a study and submit to

    Congress a report on the applicability of Federal maximum weight limitations to overthe-

    road (OTR) buses (also called motorcoaches) and public transit vehicles.

    Since the passage of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, Federal weight

    limits on the Interstate Highway System have been 20,000 lbs for a single axle and

    34,000 lbs for a tandem axle (unless the State had higher limits in effect prior to July 1,

    1956). Since 1992, there has been a permissive arrangement whereby States are not

    required to enforce axle weight limits for intrastate transit buses. A similar arrangement

    for over-the-road buses was enacted in February 2003. Both are due to expire in October


    This study is intended to

    • Assess current status and trends in bus axle weight

    • Estimate the cost of pavement damage caused by buses

    • Assess both the technical and economic feasibility of lighter-weight buses

    • Evaluate within a benefit-cost framework selected policies that could address

    over-limit bus axle weights

    • Given the above assessments, make recommendations to Congress about the

    applicability of axle weight limits to transit and over-the-road buses.

    The benefit-cost evaluation considers operating costs for bus travel, externalities of bus

    travel, and the externalities of induced automobile travel resulting from a change in the

    price of bus travel. Externalities are those identified in the 1997 Federal Highway Cost

    Allocation Study (1), namely, pavement damage, congestion, crash, air pollution and

    noise. The evaluation also assumes that all States are currently allowing overweight

    buses to operate.

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