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Double Decker Buses

Overview & Historical Background Double-decker buses have been in use all around the world for many purposes including mass transit and touring. The double-decker buses are first developed as early as the late 1800s. Over thousands of double-decker buses are used as mass transit in the UK and the rest of Europe, and Asia. The US also has a history of use with double-decker buses. New York City had been using the double-decker buses for transit as early as 1912 until 1950s, and the open-top style double-decker buses were the icons of Fifth Avenue at the time. However, use of double-decker buses did not regain interest after the 1950s for more than 40 years, with few exceptions, until the 1990s when BC Transit of Canada decides use double-decker buses in Victoria. With hundreds of double-decker buses in locations like Victoria and Las Vegas, the double-decker buses now see growing interest in possibly being the choice for many other cities in North America. Technologies Typical dimensions for a double-decker bus are from 40-45 ft. in length, 14 ft. tall, and 7.5-8.8 ft. in width. Variations of the double-decker buses are closed top, open top and double decker articulated buses. Capacity for the typical double-decker bus ranges from 80-87 passengers. Engines used for doubledecker buses are mostly diesel engines. Other engines are CNG propellers and hybrid diesel-electric engines. Advantages, Disadvantages, Barriers Double-decker buses offer a few advantages over conventional buses and articulated buses. They have a higher capacity than conventional buses and take up less road space than articulated buses. In times of traffic congestion and limited road space, a higher capacity within limited space can be very important. In addition, passengers may appreciate higher and unobstructed views when seating on the top deck, leading to more preference towards double-decker buses. On the other hand, there are a number of disadvantages with double-decker buses. First, there may be restrictions in routes due to the vertical height of the buses, limiting the route design process. The design of the buses requires that all passengers on the top deck must be seated for safety reasons, thus limiting the total capacity of the bus. With higher capacity comes with increased loading and unloading. The buses will require a staircase to connect the decks, which are not accessible for passengers with physical disabilities and can deter passengers from climbing up the stairs. More frontal area of the buses means that there is more air resistance when traveling. Combined with a higher center of gravity from the height, double-decker buses operating in winter conditions and high winds can be an important issue of concern. The 2008 TCRP report on double-decker buses show that the issue with vertical clearance can be resolved with modifications in infrastructure given the conditions of most roads in the US. In addition, a review of regulations reveals that double-decker buses satisfy the height limits of 21 states. A possible barrier to obtaining double-decker buses in the US is the Buy America Act, which, according to the Department of Transportation, dictates that transportation infrastructure projects are all constructed with products made in the US. Major manufacturers of high quality and mass number of double-decker buses are located in Europe such as Alexander Dennis and AEC of Leyland Motors in the

UK and Van Hool in Belgium. However, the Enviro500 model from Alexander Dennis is assembled in the US and is compliant with Buy America, indicating that it is possible to have international brands operate within the US to ensure compliance with the Buy America Act. Economic Aspects Based on the TCRP report, the cost of a typical double-decker bus from Alexander Dennis with capacity of 81 costs $600,000 while the cost an articulated double-decker from Van Hool is in the low 600 thousands as of January 2007. Other sources suggest that a double-decker bus can cost around $500,000, which leads to the assumption that a typical double-decker bus has a cost that ranges from $500,000-$650,000. Based on the Transport for New South Wales specifications of its new set of double-deckers, each bus is expected to last up to 25 years, more than the expected useful life of TCAT current buses. Another major cost to consider for double-decker buses is the cost to modify facilities and infrastructure. Removal of overhead obstructions, larger door openings, portable lifts purchases, modifications to garage and washing facilities are some extra costs with double-decker buses. The TCRPs sample modification cost calculation from a bus agency sums up to be around $700,000. Environmental Impacts Transport for Londons (TfL) new set of iconic red AECs Routemaster double deckers is reported to have a fuel efficiency of 6.1 mpg for hybrid buses and 5.3 mpg for diesel buses. Measurements on eight prototypes of the new Routemasters for eight months show a significant improvement in bus emissions: 2.048g/km of nitrogen oxide, 690.23 g/km of CO2, and 0.012 g/km of particulate matter. The levels of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter are 75% less than that of the fleet average of hybrid and diesel double-decker buses, while the level of CO2 emission is less than half. (bbc) Applicability to Ithaca Double-decker buses can certainly be considered for serving the Ithaca and Tompkins County area. The extra capacity can prove to be useful in satisfying the demand level during rush hours. In addition, the extra height of the buses should not prove to be prohibitive because there are minor road obstructions within the areas of service, especially those that had seen high demand. It is important, though, to note the severe winter conditions and the steepness of roads in the Tompkins County that may have affected the safety factor of using double-decker buses.

Works Cited

"DOUBLE DECK - TWO DOOR CITY BUS - BUS SPECIFICATION." Transport NSW. June 2010. New South Wales Government. 22 Feb. 2014 <>. "London new buses' green credentials revealed by TfL." BBC News. 22 May 2013. BBC. 22 Feb. 2014 <>. "New Routemaster." Transport for London. 2013. 22 Feb. 2014 <>. TCRP Report (Same as Bos)