Double-decker buses could roll into Metro Vancouver
This was the headline in the Surrey Leader last week.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says double deckers are run by BC Transit in Victoria as well as his former employer Sound Transit on intercity routes between Everett and Seattle, where they’re popular with passengers.
Desmond said he believes they could have potential to add capacity in certain parts of Metro Vancouver, although they couldn’t run on routes with low obstructions.
“They would not fit through the Massey Tunnel, for example,” Desmond said.
Well the buses currently used in Victoria wouldn’t, but that is only because they are 4.4m “highbridge” buses.
But that is the tallest buses get, and there are many places where these buses are too high. And the manufacturers do produce much lower double deck buses. Some of the more recent purchases for GO Transit in Toronto, for example.
Paul Bateson photo on flickr, used by permission
This is an Alexander Dennis Enviro500 Super Lo version at 3.91 metres high. The Massey Tunnel has a posted height limit of 4.1m: similarly there is a restriction on Highway 1 west of Abbotsford of 4.3m. So again for service on the express 555 from Langley to Braid Station, double deckers would provide much more seated accommodation. I would warn, however, that the seating currently in use on both Translink Express services and BC Transit double deckers is too close for comfort on longer distance services. Packing as many people as possible onto a bus may be good short term economics, but for passenger retention and more diversion from private cars, I think people of over 1.7m need to have adequate knee room when seated. Just because many airlines go for tight seat pitch is not a good example for other modes!
And just to show that there are many choices in low height double deckers, here is another from Italy built by the German maker Setra. The S341DT has a height of 4m and up to 93 seats.
And while we are on the subject of higher capacity buses I can think of some routes where a few of these would not go amiss
Geneva Public Transport Hess Lightram 3 on the airport route