A test of double-decker transit buses seems to be a big hit in Langley, where riders traveling from the Carvolth exchange have been able to take the buses on the 555 line that runs to Lougheed Station.
Commuters surveyed during a Wednesday morning ride with Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese praised the buses for the view up top, and the additional capacity that improves their chances of getting a seat while reducing the possibility of being passed over when a bus gets filled up.
The only issue, and it came up several times, was the relative lack of headroom.
The mayor, who is six feet tall, had to hunch down a little to find a seat on the second floor deck, which has a ceiling height of 5’7.” On the ground floor level, the floor rises toward the back, cutting off headroom in the rear-most seats as well.
“You’ve got to bend a little, but once you’re in (your seat) , it’s comfortable, Froese said.
Other than that, Froese gave the buses a rave review, saying they will help meet the increased demand for transit in a rapidly growing Township.
“It’s great,” Froese said.
TransLink spokesperson Chris Bryan said the buses can’t be any taller if they’re going to fit through local tunnels.
He said other than the headroom issue, the the response to the pilot project has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
Commuter Jim Oi, who boarded the bus at the 156 Street station, was delighted by the double-decker because it will probably reduce the number of times he’s had filled-to-the-maximum transit buses pass by his stop without picking anyone up.
“In the last three months, it’s (pass-bys) happened four times,” Oi said.
“I’ve waited 45 minutes (with) 50 to 60 people.”
Rider Alex Mogulnov, who managed to get a front-of-the-bus seat on the second deck, was enjoying the high-angle view and saying he hoped the buses become a permanent part of the morning commute.
“It’s kind of like flying on a plane,” Mogulnov said.
Bus driver Wade Quayle said the new buses are fun to drive, with steerable rear wheels that make them remarkably nimble, actually out-handling the smaller single-deck buses.
“It drives real nice,” Quayle said.
“It’s probably the nicest coach I’ve ever driven.”
While TransLink spent a lot of time making sure the test buses would fit under the power lines and other overhead obstacles on various routes before service began, Quayle said he still keeps a wary eye out for poential overhead threats.
When he was training on one of the double deckers and riding back on the upper level, “the first time we went under an overpass I was ducking my head,” he said, laughing.
Quayle said the bigggest benefit the larger buses bring is much needed additional room during rush hour.
“There’s not much more they can do at peak,” he said.
These things are running every three minutes. What else can you do?”