Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bigger people need bigger buses

There is a well-documented general trend that people are getting bigger in general--particularly in the United States. And as Smart Planet reports, that's going to have an impact on just about every aspect of our lives, including public transit.

The US Federal Transit Authority, similar to its Canadian counterpart, the Canadian Transit Authority, is responsible for making recommendations and regulations on mass transit. Currently, the standards by which safety on public transit is based on surveys done in the early 1960s, and don't really reflect the way people are built in today's world. From Smart Planet:

The Federal Transit Authority has proposed to raise the assumed average weight of a bus commuter around the United States to accommodate the increasing waistline of most Americans.

The federal agency wants to raise the assumed average weight per bus passenger from 150 pounds to 175 pounds, which could mean fewer people will be allowed to board city buses to meet safety regulations.

The authority has also proposed to add an extra quarter of a square foot of floor space per passenger on buses. With several passengers weighing far more than 200 pounds, the new system seems slightly more realistic.

So public transit companies are going to have to make some changes (unless people in general make changes to their diet, but that doesn't seem likely). I haven't seen information about Ottawa or Canada, but in time, we're likely going to need to lower the number of people we allow on buses, or make buses bigger. Neither option is without a cost.

(via Treehugger)


Travis said...

I wonder if accommodating bigger people will make the problem worse. Won't limiting bus sizes then put a limit on human sizes?

Kind of like the idea of making streets car-unfriendly to make people cycle more.

It's okay to be less accommodating sometimes if it's ultimately for good change.

Dwight Williams said...

People in general are still getting wider across the shoulders regardless of whether or not obesity ever enters the equation. And that "broad shoulders" syndrome causes its own form of bus passenger discomfort. Seat design needs to address this point.