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Author Topic: What is the max. length a bus can be?  (Read 2607 times)
Phil H / Chicago
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« on: February 26, 2010, 02:37:02 PM »

I always thought that 45' was the max.

Couple years ago I fabricated a set of cabinets for a man who had stretched a MCI 9 to 48' and when I said something to him about it he claimed it was legal. I figured it was his problem if he was wrong....so I just made what he told me to make.

Then I came across an Eagle 15 where the owner had stretched it to 47'6". He told me he had also done one at 50'.

Today I went and looked at a shell in progress where they are also doing 48'.

Are they legal or do they just have to get special permits....or are they just hoping to never have it measured?

Thanks,
Phil
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RJ
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« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2010, 02:49:32 PM »

Phil -

Technically, 45 feet is the longest "single vehicle" length that's legal on US highways.

Articulated buses are restricted to 60 feet in length.

Neoplan built some 48 foot Spaceliners for tours at the Kennedy Space Center in FL, however, they required special permits to be driven off the property (which is also why, besides being rust buckets, they were hard to sell).

So these folk are gambling.

FWIW & HTH

 Wink
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« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2010, 03:09:26 PM »

I think they are just driving with their fingers crossed.  I know a busnut that converted a Scenicruiser and strectehed it 45'6" (because he wanted it to be longer than a Prevost). He added 18" in front of the front axle, to allow a full 3' door and 4' between the axles for anextra bay.  So far he has not had any problems.  Jack
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2010, 03:14:35 PM »

never got caught and legal are two pretty different things...   Lots of people never got caught, the number of people who never did anything against the rules is a tad smaller...

Brian
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akroyaleagle
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2010, 03:36:28 PM »

I am hesitant to enter the fray on some of these discussions. However; here is some information and references for you to consider.

I hope this helps. I quickly gleaned it from the websites cited. I have learned in my years to  obtain my own information and not to rely on opinions of others.

IMO these questions are best answered by personal research and not by the average "bus" owner or operator.

Bus and RV conversions are two different animals. For clarity they should never be referred to concerning the same vehicle. A bus ceases to be a bus upon retitling as a motorhome, housecar or whatever your state deems an RV is.

The following link clearly states that RVs are not subject to Bus length laws of DOT:

http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/freight/publications/size_regs_final_rpt/

Recreational Vehicles
"Recreational vehicles are not CMVs subject to Federal size regulations"

The below link provides the maximum motorhome lengths by state: The longest I noticed was 60' in Wyoming. I believe res-procity agreements exist between states that allow the length provided for in the state of registry.

http://www.wideworldrv.com/tsl/tsl.php
« Last Edit: February 26, 2010, 07:35:27 PM by akroyaleagle » Logged

Joe Laird
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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2010, 09:54:15 PM »

... I believe res-procity agreements exist between states that allow the length provided for in the state of registry.


No.  Reciprocity agreements apply only to driver licensing.  So, for example, in California, you need a class-B non-commercial to drive a motorhome longer than 40' (45' is the absolute limit in that state).  However, in Washington, no special license is required to drive a motorhome up to 45'.  A Washington driver could drive his 45' motor home in California on his regular Washington license.

No such reciprocity exists for absolute limits on vehicles.  If you have one of those 48' Neoplans from the Kennedy Space Center and you take it into California without an over-length permit and all that entails, you can be stopped, cited, and forced to get the permits and any required pilot vehicles before moving further.  If I recall correctly, there are only 12 states in which single vehicles over 45' are legal, and, of course, those states are not contiguous.  So moving a coach over 45' long around the country legally can be a frustrating exercise in overdimensional permits, restricted routes and times, pilot vehicle requirements, etc..  That said, I, too, know people who have moved such vehicles around the county (illegally) unchallenged.

As has already been said, commercial limits (and exemptions) do not apply to private vehicles.  So while a commercial semitrailer up to 53' is guaranteed access to STAA routes nationwide (which, actually, is pretty limited -- STAA routes do no include some of the most scenic parts of the country), in most states a private semitrailer (fifth wheel) can be at most 40' long.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
« Last Edit: February 26, 2010, 09:56:46 PM by Sean » Logged

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philiptompkjns
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« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2010, 11:03:05 AM »

... I believe res-procity agreements exist between states that allow the length provided for in the state of registry.


No.  Reciprocity agreements apply only to driver licensing.  So, for example, in California, you need a class-B non-commercial to drive a motorhome longer than 40' (45' is the absolute limit in that state).  However, in Washington, no special license is required to drive a motorhome up to 45'.  A Washington driver could drive his 45' motor home in California on his regular Washington license.

No such reciprocity exists for absolute limits on vehicles.  If you have one of those 48' Neoplans from the Kennedy Space Center and you take it into California without an over-length permit and all that entails, you can be stopped, cited, and forced to get the permits and any required pilot vehicles before moving further.  If I recall correctly, there are only 12 states in which single vehicles over 45' are legal, and, of course, those states are not contiguous.  So moving a coach over 45' long around the country legally can be a frustrating exercise in overdimensional permits, restricted routes and times, pilot vehicle requirements, etc..  That said, I, too, know people who have moved such vehicles around the county (illegally) unchallenged.

As has already been said, commercial limits (and exemptions) do not apply to private vehicles.  So while a commercial semitrailer up to 53' is guaranteed access to STAA routes nationwide (which, actually, is pretty limited -- STAA routes do no include some of the most scenic parts of the country), in most states a private semitrailer (fifth wheel) can be at most 40' long.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com


Hey Sean, when you say 40ft is the max length for a 5th wheel, do you mean 40 ft off the back of the truck, or 40 feet total trailer length?  I helped one of my good friends out converting a burned down 5th wheel RV into a car trailer,  we welded a dove tail on the back and some stuff on the front... I just want to know how the police are going to be measuring that.
Thanks
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akroyaleagle
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« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2010, 12:01:48 PM »

Sean, or anyone else, where are the references cited for the below statements taken from your post?

I have no dog in this fight.

As I stated earlier, I am always hesitant to enter some of these frays. However when I do I try provide references.


No.  Reciprocity agreements apply only to driver licensing.

No such reciprocity exists for absolute limits on vehicles.  If you have one of those 48' Neoplans from the Kennedy Space Center and you take it into California without an over-length permit and all that entails, you can be stopped, cited, and forced to get the permits and any required pilot vehicles before moving further.
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Joe Laird
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« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2010, 12:39:00 PM »

As for reciprocity, here's the California code for drivers licenses: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/vc/tocd6c1a1.htm, 12501-12504 covers reciprocity. I find 12503 interesting in that it actually allows for some completely unlicensed people to drive legally, merely because their home jurisdiction doesn't require licenses.

For California, here's the reference for size, weight and load: http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/vc/tocd15c4.htm. If you want another state, you need to find the law for that state. No mention of reciprocity. (Note that CA code uses the term "house car" to refer to RV registrations.)

Finding the details for other states is an exercise for the interested. The information is out there.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2010, 12:44:52 PM by Nusa » Logged
Sean
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« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2010, 10:32:08 PM »

Hey Sean, when you say 40ft is the max length for a 5th wheel, do you mean 40 ft off the back of the truck, or 40 feet total trailer length? 


Most states measure semitrailer length as nose to tail, not from the kingpin.  Although some states also regulate, separately, kingpin to rear axle length.  For example, California restricts certain routes by this "KPRA" measurement.

Sean, or anyone else, where are the references cited for the below statements taken from your post?


As Nusa wrote, you have to look in the specific law for each state.  He provided links for California, which is also what I always have at hand.  However, I have more than passing familiarity with the laws in most states because I was responsible for a nationwide fleet of vehicles.  It's just not possible for me to provide references to forty to fifty different codes, but the information is out there and easily verified by anyone who wants to do the legwork to look it up.  No need to take my word for it.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2010, 08:24:27 AM »

Since I jumped from my bus conversion project to a fifth wheeler and HDT to haul it let me say there seems to be lots of confusion in that group about length too.  The laws for commercial vehicles do have a degree of equality for use on federal highways.
 
See link: http://www.aitaonline.com/Info/Road/Weight%20Size%20Limits.html
 
It is a grey area when you leave that highway network because you have an undefined range to travel on "access" roads before you enter the state networks.  However each state may have different truck rules but many have their own RV regulations, some equal the federal for trucks and some are unique.  The general rule is overall length that varies from 50' to over 75', but the length of trailers is limited and that may answer the question raised by Phillip. 

See link: http://www.trailerboats.com/images/elements/2342161_Tow_Laws.pdf

In the HDT/fifth wheeler group we argue this all the time since there are many there that exceed the 65' size that exists in the majority of states.  The problem is not that many are stopped and measured, but the rare situation that occurs if you are in an accident and the lawyer gets an expert and convinces the jury that the added (length/height/width) was the cause, you now have no insurance or legal coverage. Chances, slim, but having been an expert in boating cases defending silly cases like this dozens of times I can say it can happen.
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Well no longer a bus nut, but over the years I learned a lot here and still come back to see what I can apply to the conversion of my KW T2000 for hauling my Teton fifth wheeler.
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2010, 09:15:52 AM »

Also want to point out that reciprocity regarding driver licensing is not always consistent.  One of my sons currently holds a PA learner's permit. New Jersey honors the PA permit, so my son can legally drive there. However, a New Jersey learner's permit is not accepted here in PA.
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« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2010, 01:12:04 PM »

Right, underage driving laws have changed dramatically since most of us were kids, especially in the last 10-15 years. Reciprocity is state-specific when it comes to minors. In California (link previously given) there is no reciprocity for those under 16, even though some states allow driving as young as 14.

This is a pretty good overview of the underage laws by state: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driver's_license_in_the_United_States, although you still need to look up reciprocity for whatever states you plan to visit with underage drivers.
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2010, 02:20:05 PM »

Naturally, most states do not want residents from other states driving if they are younger than the minimums set for their own residents.

But the lack of reciprocity goes beyond simply the age of the driver. As far as I have been able to determine, New Jersey residents with just a learner's permit cannot drive in PA, even if they are 35 years old.
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« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2010, 02:33:16 PM »

This arrangement to squeeze a bit of extra length is quite commonly seen here. I believe the attachment is known as a 'drom' (short for dromidary - ie. it's a bit like a camel's hump). The drom is classed as a 'load' rather than part of the vehicle itself, so is not measured as part of the vehicle's length. You particularly see them on coaches that specialize in skiing of cycling holidays, where the drom is custom-built to carry the skis or bikes.




Jeremy
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