BC Transit retiring North America's first double-decker transit buses after 20 years

Dec 31 2020, 10:09 pm

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.

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 double decker buses

BC Transit’s original 10 double-decker buses will enter retirement in early 2021. (BC Transit)

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.

bc transit double decker buses new

Interior of BC Transit’s new double-decker buses entering service in early 2021. (BC Transit)

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.

bc transit double decker buses

BC Transit’s original 10 double-decker buses will enter retirement in early 2021. (BC Transit)

bc transit double decker buses

Upper level of BC Transit’s original 10 double-decker buses, which will enter retirement in early 2021. (BC Transit)

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.

Starting early this decade, both BC Transit and TransLink are aiming to only acquire electric-battery bus models, effectively ending the cycle of diesel generation buses for the conventional fleets.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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