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A double-decker bus is a bus that has two level. While double-decker long-distance coaches are in widespread use around the world, double-decker city buses are less common. Double-decker buses are popular in some cities of Europe and in parts of Asia, usually in former Britishmarker colonies. Some double-deckers specialise in short sight-seeing toursmarker for tourists for, as William Gladstone observed, "the way to see London is from the top of a 'bus." (Gladstone was referring to Londonmarker's once ubiquitous double-deck horse drawn omnibuses, rather than a motor bus).

Locations

Cities listed here use double-decker buses as part of their regular mass transit fleet. Cities with only tourist and sightseeing double-decker buses are excluded.

United Kingdom

Double-decker buses are in use throughout the United Kingdommarker and have been favoured over articulated buses by many operators because of the shorter length of double-deckers and less need to have standing capacity. The majority of double decker buses in the UK are between 9.5 and 11.0 metres long, the latter being more common since the mid-1990s though there are 3-axle 12.0 metre models in service with some operators. Double-decker coaches in the UK have traditionally been 12.0 metres in length, though many newer models are about 13.75 metres. The maximum permissible length of a rigid double-decker bus and coach in the UK is 15.0 metres, and although there are no theoretical restrictions on height, coaches are normally built to 4.38 metres high while 'highbridge' buses are normally about 20 centimeters taller. Articulated double-deckers are also allowed at a maximum length of 18.75 metres.

The red double decker buses in Londonmarker have become a symbol of Britain. A particularly iconic example was the Routemaster bus, which had been a staple of the public transport network in Londonmarker for nearly half a century following its introduction in 1956. Because of cited difficulties accommodating disabled passengers, the last remaining examples in use finally retired in 2005, although Transport for London has established two "heritage routes", which will continue using Routemasters on selected parts of routes 9 and 15.

In 2007, a hybrid-powered double-decker entered service on London Buses route 141. From late 2008, more hybrid double-deckers from three manufacturers entered service in London.

Republic of Ireland

The majority of buses operated in and around Greater Dublin by Dublin Bus are double-deckers. There are 1,125 double-decker buses (second after London) in the fleet of 1,199.

Sri Lanka

A double-decker bus at Godagama, on the 122 route from Maharagama to Avissawella, Sri Lanka (2009).
A double-decker bus at Kottawa, on the 122 route from Maharagama to Avissawella, Sri Lanka (2009).
In the 1950s, double-decker buses of the South Western Bus Company plied on the Galle Road in Colombomarker, Sri Lankamarker. These were taken over by the Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) when all bus services were nationalised in 1958. Beginning around 1959, large numbers of second-hand double decker buses of the RT, RTL and RTW classes were imported by the CTB from London Transport and ran in their original red livery with the oval CTB logo painted on the sides. These buses were phased out beginning in the mid-1970s, and none remain in service. Later, around 1985, 40 ex-London Routemaster entered service. One Routemaster bus is run by the Sirasa TV and radio station. In 2005 a new batch of double decker buses were imported by the Sri Lanka Transport Board, as the reconstituted CTB is known, which run mainly on the Galle Road in Colombo.

Hong Kong

Double-decker buses are common in Hong Kong.
Double-decker buses were first introduced in Hong Kongmarker in 1949 by Kowloon Motor Bus. They have become very popular since then, and they are found in large numbers among the fleets of the territory's major bus operators (see below). By law, double-decker buses in Hong Kong are limited to a length of 12 meters. Today, there are more than 5,000 double-decker buses running in Hong Kong and most of them are air-conditioned. The majority of public buses in Hong Kong are double deckers while single deckers are less common.

Singapore

In October 1953, a single AEC Regent III double-decker from the fleet of General Transport Company, Kuala Lumpur (KL), was sent to Singapore for demonstration. It was used on service by the Singapore Traction Company for two weeks. After that, it was inspected by two other bus companies and then sent back to KL. However, no orders for double-deckers immediately followed.

Singapore Bus Service (SBS, now known as SBS Transit), the operator of double-decker buses in Singapore, launched their first double-decker bus service on 13 June 1977 with 20 Leyland Atlanteans. The fleet grew steadily, with the further introduction of the Mercedes-Benz O305 and the Leyland Olympian. The first air-conditioned double-decker bus, named the "Superbus" in recognition of its record-breaking 12m length, was launched in 1993. The first stepless, ultra low floor "Superbus" was launched in 1999. Wheelchair accessible buses began to be introduced in 2006. SBS Transit has a fleet of over 900 double-decker buses, most of which are air-conditioned.

Canada

In 2000, Victoria, British Columbiamarker became the first city in North America to use modern double decker buses in its public transit system. These buses were imported from the United Kingdom and operated by BC Transit and the Victoria Regional Transit System; they have proven to be very popular amongst both locals and tourists. The buses are mainly used on routes that go from downtown to the suburbs, including the Victoria International Airportmarker and the BC Ferries terminal near Sidney, B.Cmarker. They can also be found on routes that head to the University of Victoriamarker and the Western Communities. In December 2007, Chairman of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission Don Amos announced the purchase of 16 new double-decker buses for the region, worth an estimated $12.8 million CDN. The buses entered service in the summer of 2008.

In July 2006 and February 2007, double-decker buses similar to those in Victoria were being tested in Ottawamarker, Ontariomarker. OC Transpo, the transit system that operates in Ottawa, has purchased three of these buses. They were delivered in November 2008. Since March 2009 they have been in service across the city of Ottawa on specific routes.

GO Transit in Torontomarker started operating 12 Alexander Dennis Enviro500 double decker buses in 2008 with 10 more entering service in 2009. Stratford, Ontario is another town to adopt the English heritage to go along with the Shakespearean theme of the annual festival.

Double Deck Tours of Niagara Falls, Ontario operates 18 Routemaster RM for sightseeing tours in the Falls area.

Double decker buses are also used in Kelowna, B.C.

Japan

A Neoplan Megaliner arrived at Osaka station as "Seishun Mega Dream".
Example of independent 3 lines seat configuration in Neoplan Skyliner.
A Jonckheere Monaco operating in Yokohama City Bus for city tour.


By Japanese law, vehicles are confined to maximum 3.8 meters height and 12 meters length. Japanese double-decker buses are mainly used for inter-city highway bus (i.e., motor coaches), city tours and charter buses. In 1960, Kinki Sharyo and Hino Motorsmarker manufactured the first original double-decker bus "Vista Coach" for Kinki Nippon Railway (Kintetsu).

In 1979, Chuo Kotsu, a chartered bus operator in Osaka, imported the Neoplan Skyliner. Skyliner and the other imported buses: Van Hool Astromega TD824, Drögmöller E440 Meteor and a few MAN coaches inspired Japanese bus manufactures, who developed three domestic models in the mid 1980s: "Nissan Diesel Space Dream", "Hino Grand View" and "Mitsubishi Fuso Aero King" . They did not, however, sell very well as the ceiling was only 1.7 meters high. Nevertheless, Aero King was sold for 22 years, but, being unable to meet exhaust gas emission and safety levels, production stopped in 2005.

In 1982, Toei Bus operated Skyliners in Tokyo, between Asakusa and Ueno to 2001. Joban Kotsu operated Skyliners in a trans-Fukushima route: between Iwaki and Aizu-Wakamatsu via Koriyama from 1983 to 1996.

Since the 1990s, JR Buses started to use Aero King for an overnight inter-city highway bus service named "Dream-go." The first Aero King in Dream-go, operated to "Fuku Fuku Tokyo" between Tokyo and Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi with Sanden Kotsu which was replaced with a "super high-decker" coach in middle of the 1990s, "Fuku Fuku Tokyo," and finally stopped in 2006.

Japanese overnight highway buses are mainly equipped with a three-line, two-aisle (1+1+1) seat configuration with reclining seats. When this configuration is used on an ordinary coach, it has 28, 29 or 31 seats. When this configuration is used on a double-decker bus, it has 36 or 40 seats: the vehicle's price and capacity increase while operating cost decreases.

JR Bus group mainly uses Aero King, Skyliner and a few Jonckheere Monaco (equipped with Nissan Diesel engine) for inter-city highway bus operations between Kanto (near Tokyo) and Kansai (near Osaka), which is named "Dream-go" (overnight express) and "Hiru-tokkyu" (Daytime Express). The other bus operators, inspired by "Dream-go", increased use of the Aero King for overnight inter-city bus service.

JR Bus Kanto imported four Neoplan Megaliner N128/4, leasing two to an operating partner (from 2003 to 2006, Kanto Railway, since 2006 Nishinihon JR Bus). The Megaliner is 15 meters long and has 84 seats (with 2+2 configuration), and is operated on an inter-city highway route between Tokyo and Tsukuba, Ibaraki from 2002 to 2005. The Megaliner has also been converted for a low-price overnight highway bus service between Tokyo and Osaka called "Seishun Mega Dream-go," with special authorization.

Germany

Double decker buses in Berlinmarker are operated by Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe marker. The fleet of double decker buses in Berlin fell from 1,000 in 1992 to 450 in 2002. The models in operation in 2002 were long and held around 95 passengers. The replacements, which are supplied by Neoman, are longer. The new buses are able to hold 128 passengers.

China

Several cities in Chinamarker have double deckers in regular use on certain crowded lines, while some have a few double deck buses in use on lines which also use single deck vehicles, e.g. Nanningmarker on line #704 in peak hours. Besides Nanning, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhoumarker, Shenzhenmarker, and Hangzhoumarker also have those buses in service, particularly on routes during rush hours. Larger towns in the developed coastal provinces, including Shaoxingmarker, Zhejiangmarker province, use double-decker buses.

India

Madrasmarker's MTC has a small fleet of double-decker buses mostly in the high-density, longer distance routes. Bombaymarker has operated double-decker buses since 1937. They are operated by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking. Thiruvananthapurammarker, Kolkatamarker and Hyderabadmarker also have double decker buses. They are modelled on the London buses.

Russia

Double-decker buses in Russiamarker are currently operated in city of Barnaulmarker,capital of Altai. The fleet of double-decker buses in Barnaulmarker consist of MAN SD200 and MAN SD 202 buses. Those buses are in use on routes ##3,10 and 17. Some cities in Russia, including Moscowmarker and Saint-Petersburg,plan to begin operating of double-decker buses (by the way, in the mid 1990's, some double-deckers have been used in St. Petersburg for a short time).

United States

In Davis, Californiamarker, Unitrans, the student-run bus company of University of California, Davismarker, operates six double-decker buses imported from London. One of these buses has been converted to run on compressed natural gas. There was also the prototype GX-1 Scenicruiser of Greyhound, which enters from the first floor: the second floor contains the driver's compartment and more seats.

Citizens Area Transit, the transit authority in the Las Vegas, Nevada area, introduced a fleet of double-deckers to serve the Las Vegas Stripmarker route in October 2005. The route is branded as "The Deuce". It (as of early 2009) serves eight routes.

In Snohomish County, Washingtonmarker, Community Transit operates one Alexander Dennis Enviro500 double-decker bus as a demonstrator, which rotates among commuter routes between Snohomish Countymarker and Seattlemarker. A fleet of 23 such buses have been purchased for service beginning 2010.

In San Luis Obispo, Californiamarker, SLO Transit tested a double decker bus in late 2008 to see if it would alleviate the over-crowdedness of Route 4. The borrowed bus has been returned, and SLO Transit plans to purchase two double decker buses of its own.

In Los Angeles County, California, the Antelope Valley Transit Authority uses double-decker buses as part of its commuter service to the Los Angeles area.

Washington, DCmarker has a hop-on-hop-off double-decker bus tour, covering the capital's sights in 25 stops and 2.5 hours.

Also, in the United States, a private operator, Megabus, run by Coach USA, employs double-decker buses on its busier intercity routes.

Turkey

The IETT (Istanbulmarker public transit system) runs 89 double-decker buses on longer-distance routes, most notably commuter buses crossing the Bosphorus Bridgemarker linking the European and the Asian sides of the city. Double-decker buses are also used on routes to and from Taksim Squaremarker to far-flung western suburbs such as Büyükçekmecemarker and Bahcesehir.

In popular culture

In the UK, double-decker buses (9.5–10.9 m) are a common reference item for describing very large objects; for example, a blue whale is about as long as three double-decker buses. "That monarch of the road", the London bus, even has its very own song, "A Transport of Delight" (1956) by the comic duo Flanders and Swann.

Operators of double decker buses

See list of operators of double decker buses.

Safety

Double decker buses have occasionally been involved in accidents caused by collisions with low bridges (as fictionally in the chase scene of the James Bond film Live and Let Die), often caused by the driver being used to driving single decker buses and forgetting to allow for the extra height when driving a double decker.

Footnotes

  1. Elbert Hubbard Little Journeys to the Homes of Good Men and Great (1894–1918) William E. Gladstone The full quote is: :Then he asked if we were going to London. On being told that we were, he spoke for five minutes about the things we should see in the Metropolis. His style was not conversational, but after the manner of a man who was much used to speaking in public or to receiving delegations. The sentences were stately, the voice rather loud and declamatory. His closing words were: "Yes, gentlemen, the way to see London is from the top of a 'bus—from the top of a 'bus, gentlemen."
  2. Routemaster "heritage routes"
  3. Bus fleet getting 16 more double-deckers
  4. Berlin's Double-Deckers to Get Hydrogen Infusion
  5. http://www.commtrans.org/Projects/DoubleTall.cfm
  6. http://www.avta.com/about/about_fleet.htm
  7. http://www.dctours.us/tours/tourDetail.cfm?tour_id=8827
  8. http://ts1.gazettelive.co.uk/2007/09/albert_bridge_bus_crash_driver.html


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