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Fatter bus passengers, bigger bus seats, fewer bus passengers as a result

05/26/11

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An open bus seat could be harder to find. That is, if the Federal Transit Administration has its way. The agency recently asked to add 25 pounds to passenger weight allowances when factoring safe loads for buses.

The FTA says it's seeking "an amount that more accurately reflects the changes to the average weight of Americans over the last several decades." The proposal published last week in the Federal Register also cites these weight estimates:

--The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates a mean average of 195 pounds for men and 165 pounds for women in the United States based on 2008 data.

--The Federal Aviation Administration sets passenger weights for safe airplane loads at 195 pounds in winter and 190 pounds in summer.

--The Coast Guard ncreased its vessel-worthy per passenger weight to 185 pounds last December.

The change, if adopted, would mean redesigned buses with fewer passengers and heftier chassis. With gas prices on the rise and more people potentially taking public transit, such an adjustment could have quite an impact on those bus trips across town.

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An interesting and controversial issue, considering how delicate the balance is between trying not to offend people, and the need to be honest about health.

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