Transpo unveils double deckers

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/08/24/transpo-unveils-double-deckers

Anyone over 5-feet 8-inches stay on the first floor or prepare to hunch over.

The city’s first new double-decker bus will hit the road in October, primarily serving suburban commuters on busy, frequent and long-distance express routes, mainly during peak hours.

Riders on Routes 35 in Orleans, 61 in Kanata, and 77 in Barrhaven will be the first ones using the new vehicles.

Passengers will have “a nice bus to use on those long hauls,” OC Transpo general manager John Manconi told the transit commission after a new bus was unveiled Friday morning.

A key feature: a monitor near the bottom of the staircase lets riders view seating on the upper deck.
The entire fleet of 75 should be rolled out by April. The double-deckers can carry 90 people, seating 82. In comparison, articulated buses carry 70, with seats for 55 people.

“We will be able to serve more customers with fewer buses, while giving a better customer experience,” said commission chairwoman Diane Deans.

Schedule changes for some routes will begin in December.

The double-deckers will be replacing articulated buses on express routes, and articulated buses will bump out costly 40-foot buses, although those could be back on the road during LRT construction.

“It’s expected that the double-decker buses will lead to $8.1 million per year in operational savings,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

That should be reflected come April and could increase to $9 million annually.

Speaking of savings, the expected capital cost is $72.1 million, $9.7 million cheaper than projected, thanks to a redesign.

The new buses are 12 centimetres shorter than the three vehicles used in the pilot project, Deans said.

“This means that the buses will clear all the overpasses in Ottawa where buses travel,” said Deans.

All the double-deckers will be housed at the Industrial Rd. garage. Maintenance crews are being introduced to the new wheels. Drivers working routes with double-deckers for the fall booking will be trained first, with 350 set to know the ropes at the end of September.

At the end of November, all 1,700 Transpo operators will be schooled.

Beginning in October, Routes 20, 21, 30, 31, 34, 38, 41, 60, 62, 66, 68, 70, 71, 76, and 93 will see some double-deckers used.

In the new year, the most recent ridership data will determine which other routes will use the vehicles.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

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