Revisiting stories: double deck buses as a modern solution for rebranding bus service for choice riders
For a long time, I've argued that one way to reposition and rebrand bus-based transit service would be to shift to double deck buses.
-- "Making bus service sexy and more equitable," 2012
After all, the iconic Routemaster bus in London is an image known the world over.
In the early part of the last century, both double deck streetcars and buses were common in dense cities, even in New York City.
Megabus double deck bus on H Street NE, Washington, DC, on the way to Union Station.
Today, double deck buses are used widely throughout the UK, not just in London, but not so much in North America, except in tourism applications and some high ridership inter-city bus routes, such as between DC and New York City.
According to the Wikipedia page, double deck buses are deployed in many European cities outside of the UK and Ireland, and in Asia, in particular Hong Kong.
In North America, for regular transit service, Ottawa, Ontario has the largest fleet of such buses, while the GOBus system in Ontario (GO = Government of Ontario) is the largest, with service dedicated to long distance commuting routes rather than inter-city transit like in Ottawa.
A few double deck buses are deployed in various communities in the US, such as in the Puget Sound region of Washington State and Las Vegas, where Community Transit has the largest fleet providing commuter service between Snohomish County and Seattle.
Charlie shares with us an article ("Bus Stop Classics: 1934-38 Yellow Coach Model 720/735 “Double Decker” – the Queen of Fifth Avenue," CurbsideClassics) he came across about double deck bus service on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
This particular article discusses the bus that was used on the route for about 20 years, until the mid-1950s.
The highly used bus line on Fifth Avenue is discussed in voluminous detail in this piece from the Coachbuilt website, and has many images of earlier double deck buses that had been in service on the route.
The Coachbuilt website focuses on companies that built "coaches," not just buses but limos, taxis, etc. For example, the geographical listing for Michigan has entries for more than 150 companies.
It's an incredibly voluminous site. The author aims to produce a book titled the Encyclopedia of American Coachbuilders.
Vintage postcard showing double deck buses on Fifth Avenue in New York City