The Bus Testing Program of the Federal Transit Administration was established in response to the requirements of the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act (STURAA) of 1987. Under the program, testing is required on all new model buses before they can be purchased with federal funds. The testing mandated by STURAA and the vehicle categories included were expanded by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) in 1991. A history of the implementation and changes to the bus testing law are highlighted under the Governing Law tab.
Testing is performed by the Vehicle Systems and Safety Program staff at the Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The testing fees are subsidized by federal funding. The Center currently handles up to eight buses at one time. During the course of testing, most maintenance and repairs are performed by the Center's staff. As of July 31, 2014 testing has been completed on 428 buses. Over the course of testing thus far, Center staff identified more than 9,107 malfunctions, resulting in many design changes.