Trial run positive for double-deckers

Muni riders may soon have a whole new outlook.

Double-decker buses, cultural landmarks and transportation mainstays on the streets of London, could make their way to San Francisco — although it may take a few years for them to arrive.

Muni unveiled a double-decker bus in December in a pilot project that lasted just less than one month. The bus, on loan from a British manufacturing company, was used on five different Muni lines. Passengers riding the two-story carrier gave it positive reviews, according to True.

After completing the pilot program in January, Muni officials began compiling a report on the possibilities of bringing the double-deckers to San Francisco. The report is expected to be completed within a few months, according to True.

The buses’ heavy-duty build, high-capacity carrying volumes, and efficient storage possibilities have Muni eyeing their inclusion into the transit fleet, possibly by 2012, according to Judson True, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The buses are manufactured by the Alexander Dennis Corp. in England. They have a baseline cost of approximately $750,000, True said. It usually takes three years from the time Muni purchases a vehicle before it’s actually put to use, according to True.

Along with their unique look, the double-deckers have plenty of practical purposes. The vehicles can be produced as biodiesel hybrids, keeping with The City’s policy toward sound environmental practices, True said.

With a maximum of 80 people, the total capacity of the double-decker buses is about equal to Muni’s 60-foot, double-coach vehicles, but the two-story carriers offer more in terms of actual seating, True said.

Las Vegas is the only city in the U.S. to use the double-decker buses for public transportation. About 40,000 people use the “Deuce Route” to travel up and down the Las Vegas Strip, True said.

Thousands of the vehicles are used worldwide, notably in London, Berlin and Hong Kong.

<p>There are six double-decker buses currently operating in The City, all used for sightseeing purposes.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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