At long last, public transit double-decker buses will be a regular rolling fixture of Metro Vancouver’s streetscape.
TransLink confirmed to Daily Hive that its first permanent, regular double-decker bus will operate on the No. 620 route between Bridgeport Station and the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal starting early Wednesday morning.
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Over the following weeks, additional double-decker buses will be used on this route, as well as the No. 301 route from Newton Exchange to Richmond-Brighouse Station.
The new buses will also operate on the No. 555 route from Lougheed Town Centre Station to Carvolth Exchange in January 2020, when more of the vehicles have completed final commissioning and are ready for operations.
The public transit authority ordered a total of 32 Enviro 500 model double-decker buses manufactured by UK-based Alexander Dennis.
The federal gas tax fund covered 90% of the cost of the order, while TransLink covered the remainder. Each bus cost about $1 million, about the same cost as a 60-ft-long articulated bus.
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.
Interior features include plug-in USB charging outlets, an LCD television screen allowing passengers to spot vacant seats before going upstairs, a wide and well-lit staircase with handrails, and full accessibility with a low-floor and boarding ramp.
TransLink announced this past summer it has exercised an option of 25 additional double-decker buses, which will bring its double-decker bus fleet size to a total of 57 vehicles by Fall 2020.
These buses will be used on other routes elsewhere in the region, mainly on the longer-haul, suburban routes, as they are more suitable for double-decker bus operations with less ingress and egress movements. In conjunction with municipal governments, all routes used by these buses are given considerable consideration to ensure they meet the height clearance needs of tree branches, lamp post fixtures, and other overhead utilities.
TransLink made a decision to add double-decker buses to its fleet following a successful four-month-long pilot project in late 2017 that used two vehicles.