EDITORIAL: GVM push continues

By: Chris Smith


Weight is a heavy issue in the busing world, as our trucking cousins gained a weight concession to deal with

Weight is a heavy issue in the busing world, as our trucking cousins gained a weight concession to deal with engine emissions technology on the front axles, nothing was given to the busing brethren for back axles for the predominately rear engine vehicles .

The National Transport Council (NTC) in 1999 recommended an increase in mass of two axle buses from 16 tonnes gross vehicle mass (GVM) to 18t GVM and similar increases for three axle vehicles. A change which would actually allow most coaches to run legally when full.

This issue remains unresolved today despite industry efforts to see a sensible resolution.

The issue is now a weight and productivity problem that needs to be addressed.

Since 1999 the overall tare weight of chassis imported into Australia (over 95 percent of these are European at the moment) has increased.

This increased mass has resulted from:
  • introduction of new noise and exhaust emissions standards; Australian Design Rules 80/01, 80/02 and 80/03
  • introduction of accessible transport standards requiring low floor buses, wheelchair ramps etc
  • requirements for air-conditioning units


At the same time, 65kg as the default weight of a passenger has become inadequate as people have become heavier on average.

The response from the industry has been for bus body manufacturers to make their bodies lighter to ensure that 16t GVM can be met.

This process has seen the industry go to lightweight seats (among other initiatives) but has gone as far as it can without compromising the structural integrity of the bus body.

The NTC recognised in 1999 that only in a short period of a total trip, when buses were operating "full" were they in fact overweight.

This problem has not improved. As outlined, it is worsening, as increased chassis and passenger weight makes this a more regular occurrence.

The legal issues that could arise in the event of a full, peak hour route, school service or tourist or charter coach being involved in an accident are a concern.

BIC say there are two options available:

1. reduce the carrying capacity of our vehicles to ensure they are under 16t which will require additional vehicles to carry out the task; or

2. increase the GVM of buses and coaches from:
  • 16t GVM to 18t GVM or the manufacturer’s GVM (whichever is lower) for two axle buses
  • 20t GVM for 6x2 vehicles to 21.5t GVM or the manufacturer’s GVM (whichever is lower) for three axle buses
  • 22.5t GVM for 6x4 vehicles to 23.5t GVM or the manufacturer’s GVM (whichever is lower) for three axle buses

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