Sound Transit is about to buy five double-decker express buses, similar to the popular Double Tall fleet operated by Community Transit.
Transit-board members will vote Thursday on a $5.1 million purchase, including taxes and contingency. These five will run only on Sound Transit’s routes from Snohomish County, where Community Transit employees will drive and maintain them. Each 13′ 6″coach contains 77 seats, or 21 more than a typical hybrid articulated bus. Sound Transit will be replacing articulated diesel buses 14 years old or older
The double-deckers cost more upfront than conventional buses, but are expected to have lower operating costs per passenger. Buses are due in May 2015, says a Sound Transit staff report. The Alexander Dennis company will assemble them in Nappanee, Ind.
“This is a way to add more people without adding service hours or hiring more drivers, which we can’t afford to do,” said Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray. The agency has increased trips on its crowded north-end lines since voters approved a sales-tax bump in 2008 — but the lion’s share of the taxes are going to build a three-pronged light rail network to Lynnwood, Overlake and SeaTac, plus commuter-rail upgrades in Pierce County.
Community Transit carried more than 10,000 commuters a day during 2013 on its 23 double-tall buses, which link Everett, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace and downtown Seattle. Their range is confined to certain express corridors, because of low tree branches, wires and overpasses in the metro area.