One of TransLink’s first new purpose-ordered double-decker buses was showcased at the public transit authority’s Transport 2050 exhibit at this year’s PNE Fair.
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Apart from some slight variations with the features and materials used for the interior furnishings — including taller seats with headrests for added long-distance comfort — these double-height buses are essentially identical to the models that were tested in 2017.
This ‘Enviro 500’ model of bus is manufactured by UK-based Alexander Dennis, with features that include plug-in USB charging outlets in the seats, a TV screen at the bottom of the stairwell allowing passengers to see vacant seats before going up the wide and well-lit staircase with handrails, and full lower-level accessibility with a low-floor and boarding ramp.
These buses have the same length as a standard 40-ft bus, but they fit far more passengers, with seating capacity alone reaching 83 people — an 83% increase over the existing coaches.
But be prepared for low headroom on the upper level, as the ceiling height is just 5 ft 7 inches to ensure the vehicle can overcome all overhead obstacles along the South of Fraser suburban routes it will serve, including the low clearance of the George Massey Tunnel.
The ceiling height for the first level is higher, but it is still low compared to the public transit authority’s standard buses.
Last month, TransLink announced the first double-decker buses will enter service in October of this year on the No. 301 Newton Exchange/Richmond-Brighouse Station and No. 620 Bridgeport Station/Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal routes.
All three routes are longer haul, suburban routes where double-decker buses have been deemed to be more feasible and efficient.
These routes are seeing significant year-over-year ridership growth, with the No. 301 and No. 620 experiencing increases of 21% and 14%, respectively, in 2018. The No. 555 on Highway 1 has seen its ridership increase by about 65% between 2014 and 2018, when nearly 1.2 million boardings were recorded.
TransLink will be in possession of a total of 57 double-decker buses by Fall 2020, with 32 vehicles made in the original order arriving this year and an option of 25 additional buses exercised.