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RTC to test double decker bus on various routes

By Carla O'Day
A double decker bus.
RTC also tested double decker buses in 2016. Image: RTC

The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is scheduled to test a double decker bus for three weeks in November and plans to collect input from customers about how they liked the new ride.

The diesel-powered Alexander Dennis Enviro 500 bus is 13 1/2 feet tall and 42 feet long and can carry up to 100 passengers. The bus will be on loan to RTC free of charge from manufacturer Alexander Dennis.

“The passenger capacity of a double decker is potentially a possible replacement of our 60-foot buses,” RTC executive director Lee Gibson told board members during Friday’s meeting. “We’re coming up on having to replace those 60-foot buses, so we want to make sure this vehicle’s a good fit for that potential role.”

Gibson said RTC buses have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years.

The double decker will be tested on several routes, including the RTC RAPID Lincoln Line that serves the Prater Way and 4th Street corridors, Regional Connector between Reno and Carson City, and on Routes 5 (Sutro/Sun Valley), 7 (Stead) and 12 (Terminal/Neil). RTC selected those routes because they have among the highest ridership. Virginia Street wasn’t selected because much of it is under construction.

Test runs are to be sure there are no issues with the bus size and that it clears all overpasses. Passengers can ride this bus for free because it has no fare box.

RTC tested double decker buses in 2016 as well, soliciting feedback from riders during that trial.

“Feedback will be collected from coach operators and staff at the operating facility on how well the bus performed, if it maneuvered well in the yard and at transit facilities, if it was compatible with the bus wash and maintenance bays, and other relevant feedback, including dwell times, safety/security on the bus, maintenance cost, and reliability,” RTC fleet manager David Carr said in a memo to the board.

“Ridership data will be collected throughout the demonstration by staff-conducted surveys, including the peak number of riders on the bus and how much the upper deck is utilized.”

Gibson reassured the board that the bus has a roof and has met federal safety standards for transit. It’s not an open-air, convertible-style tourist bus, he said.

For route information visit RTC at https://www.rtcwashoe.com/routes/

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