TransLink is moving forward with plans to add double-decker buses to its fleet, but it’s still not known if any of them will service the South Delta area.
Following a successful four-month pilot project that saw double-decker buses tested on routes in Delta, Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Vancouver, TransLink has put out a request for proposals to add 32 buses with the goal of having them in service by mid-2019.
During the pilot project, the double-decker buses were provided free of charge by bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis.
In Delta, the buses were tested on the 601 and 620 routes.
TransLink media relations advisor Jill Drews said the company is still working on the exact routes that the double-decker buses will service, but could say they will operate out of the Richmond Transit Centre.
“During the testing phase, we found some tree trimming and adjustments of overhead wires were necessary in Delta to allow the double-deckers to pass under,” Drews said. “The buses we tested are diesel and we would be looking to procure diesel buses. We’ve found in testing the diesel models are the ones which work best for us when it comes to meeting height restrictions.”
TransLink said the pilot project yielded overwhelming positive feedback from riders in all of the test communities.
According to TransLink, more than 600 customers have filled out a survey to date, which shows they are pleased with the increased capacity and comfort of the double-decker buses, calling them a “smooth ride.” An interim report following the first month of the pilot project indicated that 75 per cent of customers would be more likely to take transit if riding a double-decker.
Double-decker buses were also a hit with bus operators, scoring well in drivability, ease of maintenance and fuel economy.
The double-decker buses feature double the capacity of a conventional bus, panoramic views from the top deck, wide, well-lit staircase with handrails, a screen that allows riders to see vacant seats up top before going upstairs and full accessibility with a low step, flat floor and ramp for boarding.
TransLink will fund the new buses through federal gas tax funding.
Twenty-seven of the double-decker buses will replace aging Orion buses and five will be expansion vehicles. With double the capacity of every Orion bus, the double-deckers will provide a less crowded, more comfortable ride for customers, according to TransLink.