Double-decker Buses in Houston
Thursday, May 24, 2007 4:57 PM
Could Houstonians find a bit of London in the Bayou City some day?
John Walsh, METRO's senior director of bus maintenance, invited the manufacturer of the familiar, red double-decker bus to stop in Houston "to allow us to kick the tires, so to speak, and to do a preliminary assessment of the buses' efficacy for the Houston environment."
Towering 14 feet high - six inches taller than a typical truck trailer - the buses made by Alexander Dennis are well-engineered with a long track record of safety. Double- deckers were a major part of bus fleets through the 1940s, and the bulk of Hong Kong's fleet is made up of these two-story deckers.
"The buses make sense where high capacity is a requirement," says Walsh, adding that the ride on these tall buses is excellent and the driver's work station ergonomically well-designed. The price ranges from $750,000 to $850,000.
Double-deckers are already serving tourists in New York City and on the strip in Las Vegas - and the bus that stopped in Houston will be going to Everett, Washington.
But will they tip over?
"The design has a low center of gravity and is tested with a load on the upper deck and tipped over 30 degrees without going over. That is pretty significant," says Walsh.
During its test drive in Houston, the double-decker navigated our streets well and entered the Downtown Transit Center with no problem.
Whether METRO ends up with one is still uncertain. "We have to look at all potential solutions to give our customers a vehicle that is functional and meets their needs," says Walsh.