Double-decker hits the road

A Municipal Transportation Agency double-decker bus hits the streets of The City today, but with only one bus servicing select routes, it may be tough to catch a ride.

According to Muni, a Great Britain-based manufacturer is giving one double-decker bus to The City for the trial, which is set to end Jan. 8. City officials said there are no plans to buy a fleet of the buses, which would cost over $800,000 each.

Muni spokesman Alan Siegel said that, at 14 feet tall with 330 horsepower, the double-decker bus could go almost anywhere the current buses go. Steep hills and overhead power lines aren’t expected to be a problem, Siegel said, but overgrown trees and tunnel clearance would bar access to some routes.

According to Muni, the Broadway tunnel would be off-limits for the double-decker and 28-19th Avenue would pose problems because of low-hanging trees on Park Presidio Boulevard.

A similar bus in Snohomish County, Wash., goes into and out of Seattle twice a day. Community Transit spokesman Martin Munguia said their “Double Tall” bus is extremely popular as a long-distance commuter bus, but in an urban area it could pose problems.

“It’s really not the best for local service because the people up top take a long time to go downstairs,” Munguia said. “It tends to take up a lot of time at the bus stops.”

Manguia also said clearing overhead lights, trees, bridges and tunnels was a major issue in Seattle, “You really have to be careful and run test runs.”

According to Muni, “dwell time” will be monitored by checking a passenger counter. There is no disabled access to the top floor and safety issues will be monitored by video. A “select number” of drivers have been trained to drive the vehicle.

But Muni officials said there are no long-term plans for the buses, even though they provide several advantages. The double-decker bus can seat at least 26 more people than the long, articulated buses while requiring 30 percent less space on streets, bus stops and in maintenance yards.

“It would have been foolish not to see how these things work on the streets of The City,” Siegel said.

Where to catch the new bus:

49-Van Ness

Dec. 12-15, Dec. 17…..6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

38L-Geary Limited

Dec. 18-21…..6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 22…..10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

1BX-California ‘B’ Express

Dec. 24, Dec. 26-28…..Mornings and Evenings

14L-Mission Limited

Dec. 24, Dec.26-29…..9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

38-Geary (Local)

Dec. 31, Jan.2-5…..6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

bbegin@examiner.com

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