NTEA’s MSBMA offers federal program improvement recommendations

This article was published in the September 2020 edition of NTEA News.

Mid-Size Bus Manufacturers Association (MSBMA) was founded in 1993 to enhance professionalism, safety and product quality in the mid-size bus industry. The group defines mid-size buses as passenger-carrying motor coaches, built on a cutaway or rail chassis or on monocoque construction, less than 40 feet in length and with a gross vehicle weight rating of 33,000 pounds (Class 7) or less. MSBMA members include bus manufacturers and other supporting companies such as component, system and service suppliers.

Some mid-size buses are purchased with Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant money. To qualify for funding, grantees must ensure their bus models have undergone the New Model Bus Testing Program — known as Altoona testing, as the evaluation site is in Altoona, Pennsylvania.

As customers receiving FTA funds must prove purchased buses have undergone testing, they rely on manufacturers to provide proper verification. Under the MAP-21 Act, Altoona tests now include new pass/fail criteria, designed to ensure a minimum performance level. MSBMA recently worked with FTA to extend equivalence to certain Ford chassis in an effort to reduce testing for its bus manufacturing members.

In its meetings, MSBMA benefits from participation of key FTA and test facility representatives, as this enables the group to offer ongoing program improvement suggestions.

MSBMA monitors other recommended changes to federal requirements that may affect its members, and is actively developing relationships with liaisons from various chassis manufacturers linked to the mid-size bus industry. During meetings, routine discussion points include all aspects of upfitting, promoting and distributing buses built on various chassis. OEM participation plays a key role in these conversations.

Kim Yoder, vice president of sales & marketing for ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, has spent several years on MSBMA’s Executive Committee and currently serves as the first female chair.   

To learn more about the group, visit ntea.com/msbma or contact Steve Spata, NTEA technical assistance director, at steves@ntea.com.