After more than 20 years of service, BC Transit’s first 10 double-decker buses operating in Greater Victoria will enter retirement in early 2021.
The iconic buses were transformative for the Victoria Regional Transit System, and the first double-decker buses put into use on a public transit system in North America. These buses first entered service on August 1, 2000, and have collectively logged over 11 million km.
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The buses were manufactured by Alexander Dennis, which is perhaps best known for building double-decker buses for London and especially Hong Kong, where there were over 1,000 double-decker buses produced by the company at the time.
The Scottish bus builder was acquired by Winnipeg-based New Flyer in 2018, and it recently became the supplier of TransLink’s new double-decker bus fleet.
BC Transit’s double-decker buses entering retirement will be replaced early next year by new higher capacity double-decker models from Alexander Dennis, similar to those used by TransLink.
The features of the new BC Transit double-decker buses include USB charging ports and a wider staircase to the upper level.
One of the original double-decker buses will be transferred back to Alexander Dennis and eventually end up in a transit museum in the United States, while the remaining buses will be dismantled and recycled.
More than two decades ago, the double-decker buses were ordered for $590,000 per vehicle. Today, each double-decker bus costs about $1 million — roughly the same price as a 60-ft, three-door, single-level articulated bus, such as the vehicles used by TransLink’s 99 B-Line and RapidBus.
Although articulated buses have a similar capacity, BC Transit says the double-decker buses were chosen because of their higher carrying capacity within the same road footprint as a standard 40-ft bus. Articulated buses would not have functioned well on some of the shorter city blocks in downtown Victoria.
The provincial transit authority now has 67 double-decker buses serving the Victoria region.
Separately, TransLink’s initial order of 32 double-decker buses on longer haul suburban routes completely entered service in September 2020. An additional order of 25 double-decker buses arriving in the middle of 2021 will grow TransLink’s double-decker bus fleet to 57 vehicles.