During Thursday’s meeting of the Sound Transit Board, a motion was approved to order 32 double-decker buses from Alexander Dennis for $33 million. The order is a joint procurement with Community Transit and Kitsap Transit for a total of 143 total buses; Community Transit will receive 57 buses for its commuter routes and Kitsap Transit will receive 11; Sound Transit also has the option to purchase 43 more buses at a later date, to support their goal of having all Snohomish County trips operated by double-deckers.

By 2018, Sound Transit expects to operate double-deckers on all Snohomish County routes. That includes routes 532 and 535, which currently do not have double-decker service because of vertical clearance issues at Bellevue Transit Center. Last November, Sound Transit began operating its double-decker buses in Snohomish County, contracted out to Community Transit (whose facilities are the only ones in the region that can handle them). Community Transit had begun using double-decker buses in 2007 and ordered additional fleets in 2011 and 2013, with the latter including the Sound Transit order. Kitsap Transit tried out a double-decker bus last summer while seeking higher-capacity options for its ferry feeder service.

As part of the deal, 32 articulated buses currently used on ST Express routes in Snohomish County will be transferred to King County Metro, replacing older buses and being used for future service expansion.

Production of the buses will begin in November and delivery will begin in April 2017. The relatively fast turnaround and delivery was made possible by a new parallel production line at the Alexander Dennis/ElDorado National factory in Riverside, California. Each bus has 81 seats, a 30 percent increase over typical articulated buses, and is only 42 feet long.

32 Replies to “100 More Double-Deckers for Snohomish and Kitsap Counties”

  1. It seems logical Metro would be shifting their fleet of artics to double-talls for the simple reason that curb space is coming to a critical point in the next several years. When tunnel routes get shifted to surface streets and as layover spaces in SLU combined with the loss of CPS layovers, I’m left to wonder where all these existing and new artics are going to go, much less efficiently service all the downtown stops.
    The limiting factors are vertical clearance along the routes Metro operates and at the ability of bases to accommodate taller vehicles.
    Does anyone know what the limiting factors are such as low trolley wire clearance, bridges, traffic signal wiring, etc.?

    1. Trolley wire clearance wouldn’t be an issue in the downtown core, the existing double deckers cross multiple trolley lines going through north/south through downtown.

      Generally you are supposed to have 16′ of vertical clearance on a highway nowadays, the buses are 14’4″. According to metro the height of the wire is designed to be 16 to 18 feet. I can think of a few overpasses and stuff that might be an issue, but not a lot that are on an arterial that currently has bus service. Frankly the biggest issue would probably be trees

      The double deckers could be great for long haul suburban highway routes though, especially once that mostly go to/from transit centers. Especially if it allowed Metro to maintain capacity on snow days.

      1. There are a few crossings under Aurora Ave as well as some pedestrian bridges over Aurora Ave (all north of the Aurora Ave Bridge) where the clearance is under 14′.

  2. Walking through downtown the other day, I stumbled across at least one double decker with a “512” on its headsign. So, it seems that the requirement to actually live in Snohomish County to be able to (practically) ride one of those is no longer the case.

    1. Private company First Transit actually drives them, and all the Sound transit north routes and most of CT commuter routes under contract with CT.

    1. Yes. As a new cost-cutting measure, the first couple Double Talls will be delivered with big, removable steel plates protecting the front. With expert engineering guidance, these buses will repeatedly ram into the awning until a necessary amount of structure falls off to allow for Double Tall service. Hopefully, this will take a weekend.

      1. Probably better to implement during a weekday? The higher frequency of service would get the job done faster, and here in Bellevue we are used to loud banging construction noises in the morning.

    2. The double deckers are fine stopping at the bay in northbound trip direction, but not in the drop off bay, due to two different heights of the roof in the Bellevue Transit Center. I would think re-assigning the 532/535 to a different Bay when headed West thru the Transit Center would be an easy fix.

    3. Parallel question: Does anyone know specifically what the low-hanging issue is that keeps the double deckers from the UW routes? Someone once mentioned a low overpass, but where?

      1. Pedestrian bridge over Montlake near the Hec-Ed?
        Or maybe the ped. bridge over Pacific St by the med school.

  3. I hope eventually all local agencies use the double deckers. Everyday I see the articulated buses blocking an entire cross street in Seattle for a an entire light cycle for the other blocked direction

      1. do remember that Las Vegas use the same bus and do have the duel stairs on some of there fleet to try to fix that.and some of the routes still use the one stairs or thair 60ft bus in its place.

    1. they don’t let you move around the bus either until it is at the stop, clearly that is not going to work on busy urban routes

  4. Correct me if I’m wrong here. In terms of capacity, seat configuration can mean a lot. Even so, people aren’t allowed to stand on the upper level. This means that in general, a double decker bus can seat more people, but an articulated can hold more people. When you add in the doors, it all comes together. A double decker bus makes sense for trips that are long, and don’t involve many stops. An articulated makes sense for the opposite. For example, a double decker would be a very bad choice for Madison BRT, or the Metro 8. But it is a great choice for an express trip, which explains why they are popular in the suburban counties (and why they are selling their old articulated buses to the nearby urban county).

    1. I meant that as a reply to Al, since I wanted to acknowledge his point about the number of doors.

      1. Hong Kong still uses them almost exclusively.

        Cario has double deck power cars and single deck trailers.

        Most everywhere else just increases frequency to meet demand ( almost nowhere is as dense as Hong Kong) but thanks to that special ultra dense Rainier Valley area of Seattle, ST can’t have high frequency service.

  5. I’m mildly surprised Kitsap has routes that have the kind of demand to justify this.

    1. Some weekday morning, go down to the ferry terminal and watch the crowds of walk on passengers come off the ferries from Bremerton and Bsinbridge Island.

      Or better yet, find an excuse to be at the other end and watch the buses deliver passengers to the ferry.

      The biggest problem they have is the traffic jam approaching the area. Bremerton in particular has a terrible traffic backup. Replacing a couple hundred of those cars with a single bus from a park and ride lot would do a lot of good for everyone.

      1. Yes. I’ve taken the bus out to Port Townsend, an the synchronized 90 typically sees three buses arrive st Winslow at the same time. Only one of those is a return service to Poulsbo.

    2. When they were testing, they also ran the double-decker on the #11 Crosstown Express, which serves Olympic College. That route has the only trips that regularly get standing loads, besides commuter service to the ferries.

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