Jerry G. Sullivan, PE
The Braun Corporation
P.O. Box 310
Winamac, IN 46996

Dear Mr. Sullivan:

This responds to your letter of January 30, 1996, requesting clarification of a recent amendment to the definition of "designated seating position" in 49 CFR '571.3. On March 24, 1995, the agency amended the definition of "designated seating position" to specify that a location intended for securement of an occupied wheelchair during vehicle operation will be regarded as four designated seating positions (60 FR 15504). You asked for clarification of whether this amendment applies in the following situations:

(1) Calculation of the payload of a vehicle.

(2) Classification of a vehicle as a school bus vs. multipurpose passenger vehicle (mpv).

(3) Classification of a vehicle as a bus vs. mpv.

As amended, the definition of designated seating position states, in pertinent part:

* * * For the sole purpose of determining the classification of any vehicle sold or introduced into interstate commerce for purposes that include carrying students to and from school or related events, any location in such vehicle intended for securement of an occupied wheelchair during vehicle operation shall be regarded as four designated seating positions.

According to the above-quoted language, a wheelchair position is regarded as four designated seating positions only for situation (2) above. If a vehicle is not intended for transportation of students, the determination of whether the vehicle is a bus or an mpv is done regarding any wheelchair locations as a single designated seating position. The calculation of payload or gross vehicle weight rating for any vehicle, including school buses, is done regarding any wheelchair locations as a single designated seating position.

I hope this information has been helpful. If you have other questions or need some additional information, please contact Mary Versailles of my staff at this address or by phone at (202) 366-2992.

Sincerely,

Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel ref:571.3 d:2/22/96