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Community Transit has announced it will be the first transit agency in the world to buy all-wheel drive, articulated double decker buses.
The agency partnered in the development of the vehicle and will order 23 of the buses to be used for commuter service to and from Seattle.
The decision to develop the articulated double decker buses was based on the success of the agency’s Double Talls that were added to the fleet’s most crowded routes to downtown Seattle on March 31, 2011. The Double Talls are 42 feet long and 14 feet tall, carrying a total of 77 passengers. There are a total of 23 Double Talls operating on Snohomish County roads.
With the demand for service continuing to rise and the potential for future spikes in fuel costs, the double decker bus – dubbed the “Double Ventis” because they’re bigger than Double Talls – will carry up to 196 passengers, more than double what a standard transit vehicle can carry.
The buses get about the same fuel mileage as a standard bus, but with twice the payload they will double fuel efficiency.
“With these giant buses, we’ll be able to handle all the growth in commuter ridership expected in the next ten years,” CEO Joyce Eleanor said.
The Double Venti buses will feature four doors and three stairwells to help people reach the upper deck. Upstairs there will be seating for 112 people, including a 40-seat conference room with a spectacular view. The agency is looking into the possibility of a children’s play area in the downstairs articulation.
The all-wheel drive feature was made possible by Community Transit’s Maintenance Department, which worked with the manufacturer to develop a telescoping drive shaft that delivers power from the engine, located in the rear of the bus, through the articulation to the front wheels. Community Transit has patented this special drive shaft, which is expected to revolutionize articulated bus building, and the agency will receive royalties for every vehicle in which it is used.
“Our team displayed real innovation with this revolutionary development,” said Joyce. “Having all-wheel drive solves the issue of articulated buses running in snow and ice. Next year, I hope to add helicopters to our fleet,” she said, adding, “April Fools!”