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Orion Bus Industries Inc.; Petition for Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 121

Buses American Government Topics:  Orion

Orion Bus Industries Inc.; Petition for Temporary Exemption From Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 121

L. Robert Shelton
February 3, 1998

[Federal Register: February 3, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 22)]
[Page 5604]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
[Docket No. NHTSA 98-3396; Notice 1]

Orion Bus Industries Inc.; Petition for Temporary Exemption From 
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 121

    Orion Bus Industries Inc. of Oriskany, New York, has petitioned for 
a five-month exemption from Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 121 Air 
Brake Systems. The basis of the petition is that compliance would cause 
substantial economic hardship to a manufacturer that has tried in good 
faith to comply with the standard.
    This notice of receipt of the petition is published in accordance 
with agency regulations on the subject and does not represent any 
judgment by the agency about the merits of the petition.
    On June 7, 1995, Western Star Truck Holdings Ltd., Canada, 
purchased some of the assets of Bus Industries of America. Through its 
wholly-owned subsidiary, Orion Bus Industries Ltd. of Ontario, a 
manufacturer of city transit buses, it established Orion Bus Industries 
Inc. as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orion Bus Industries Ltd. Since 
1995, ``Orion Bus has been striving to re-organize the operation, 
update and replace obsolete facilities and turn an insolvent 
organization into a first class bus manufacturing facility employing 
over 1,000 employees.'' The company manufactured 699 buses in the 12-
month period preceding the filing of its application.
    Paragraph S5.1.6.1(a) of Standard No. 121 requires each ``single 
unit vehicle,'' including transit buses, manufactured on and after 
March 1, 1998, to be equipped with an antilock brake system. The 
company will be able to comply as of that date with buses entering 
production. However, it is asking relief from compliance for certain 
buses whose assembly will not be completed until after March 1, 1998. 
As it explains, these buses ``are part of bus contracts which have been 
delayed due to the insolvency of a major part supplier.'' This has 
disrupted Orion's schedule for over 27 weeks ``while a new vendor could 
be found, new tooling produced and the new supply of parts tested and 
certified to meet current in-use Safety Standards.'' As the buses were 
not designed to be equipped with antilock braking systems, their fixed-
cost contracts have no provisions for the purchaser bearing the cost of 
modifications, and Orion would have to absorb the costs. Orion has 
increased its production schedule to minimize the number of buses 
needing an exemption. As of December 1, 1997, however, it appears to 
the petitioner that 148 buses will be produced on or after March 1, 
1998, and not later than August 1, 1998.
    Orion had a net loss of $650,000 during its limited operations in 
1995, a net income of $1,223,000 in 1996, and a net income of 
$4,696,000 in 1997. Further costs would be incurred were Orion required 
to conform. At a minimum, the cost to convert stock axles sets and 
brake assemblies to become anti-lock compliant is estimated to be 
$636,740. Were Orion to complete its orders with conforming buses, the 
purchasers might demand that the buses for which they had already taken 
delivery be retrofitted to conform. This contingent liability is 
estimated to be $7,000,000. Orion believes that a mixed fleet would 
have a detrimental effect upon its purchasers ``by forcing them to 
carry different replacement parts, implementing different maintenance 
procedures and having to train maintenance personnel and drivers on how 
to handle the different vehicles.'' Because drivers sometimes change 
buses during their shifts, in an emergency a driver may not react 
appropriately as the situation demands.
    Orion submitted data indicating that a temporary exemption ``will 
have little impact on the ability of a bus to come safely to a stop 
within the stopping distances specified in Table II of FMVSS 121.'' 
These data ``indicate that the test vehicle [Orion VI Transit bus] met 
all stopping distance guidelines and stayed within a 12-foot lane width 
(without wheel lock).''
    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on the petition 
described above. Comments should refer to the docket and notice number, 
and be submitted to: Docket Management, National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration, room PL-401, 400 Seventh Street, SW, Washington, DC 
20590. It is requested but not required that 10 copies be submitted.
    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date below will be considered, and will be available for 
examination in the docket at the above address both before and after 
that date, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. To the extent 
possible, comments filed after the closing date will also be 
considered. Notice of final action on the petition will be published in 
the Federal Register pursuant to the authority indicated below.

    Comment closing date: March 5, 1998.

    Authority: 49 U.S.C. 30113; delegations of authority at 49 CFR 
1.50 and 501.4.

    Issued on: January 28, 1998.
L. Robert Shelton,
Associate Administrator for Safety Performance Standards.
[FR Doc. 98-2591 Filed 2-2-98; 8:45 am]

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