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5 CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND Europe, which saw the development and progressive refine- ment of articulated bus technologies: "puller"-type articu- For more than four decades, the 40-ft bus, operating on fixed- lated buses using under-floor engines; the development of route transit service, has been the workhorse for transit service controls to limit jackknifing; and the development of in North America cities. This standardization to a dominant "pusher"-type articulated buses, with the engine located in vehicle type has offered the transit industry several advan- the rear engine compartment location, similar to 40-ft buses tages, including: (3). Most of the major continental European bus manufactur- ers (e.g., Ikarus, M.A.N., Mercedes, Scania, Van Hool, and Standardization of vehicle characteristics, Volvo) offered articulated bus models. The availability of Reasonable capacity for service delivery, robust articulated bus technology, combined with the pro- Standardized parts inventory, and ductivity benefits such buses offered, led to wide-spread Industry-wide enhancements to standard bus technology. deployment of articulated buses in cities across continental Europe (although Great Britain continued to rely on double- However, one observes a growing acceptance in the tran- deck buses as their prime HC bus of choice). sit industry of the concept of "family of services," whereby different types of services or product lines are offered to During this same period, the transit industry was in seri- meet the specific expectations of distinct market segments. ous decline in the United States, with an increasing number In many cases, these different product lines require the of failures of private transit operators. Growing policy con- deployment of different vehicle technologies, which provide cern in the 1960s led to legislation by the U.S. federal gov- different characteristics in terms of capacity, image, com- ernment in the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in the areas of fort, maneuverability, etc. An initial study by TCRP resulted federal capital and operating subsidies. This federal support in the report, Use of Small Buses in Transit Service (1); led to the public takeover of failing private transit systems examining where and how small buses were being deployed across the United States, enabled massive expansion of tran- in regular and flexible services, and the experience with sit services, and fueled public expectations. However, during these buses. The present study complements the previous this same period, the transit industry also experienced grow- report by examining the experience with the other end of the ing inflationary pressure on operating costs. bus spectrum; that is, higher-capacity (HC) buses. For the purposes of this study, HC buses include articulated, double- One logical response to the increases in operating costs deck, 45-ft buses, and other buses that have a significant was to explore potential initiatives to increase labor produc- increase in passenger capacity compared with the conven- tivity. One such effort in the early 1970s was the creation of tional 40-ft bus. the Super Bus Consortium to evaluate the use of HC bus technology, in particular that of the articulated buses com- HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE monly used in Europe (2). This in turn led to the development of an articulated bus specification, closely reflecting Euro- Among the various types of HC buses, articulated buses have pean bus specifications, followed in 1976 by the creation of a long history of operation. An interview with transit histo- a Pooled Purchase Consortium. This consortium, led by Seat- rian William A. Luke provided much of the following dis- tle Metro and the California Department of Transportation cussion of the history of HC buses. The first articulated bus (DOT) (Caltrans), sought to purchase 400 articulated buses in North America was built by the Twin Coach Company in to be deployed in a variety of cities. The consortium used an 1938 for the city of Baltimore and was a 4-axle 47-ft bus that Americanized version of the SuperBus specification, and had vertical (but not horizontal) articulation. Remodeled awarded a contract to a joint venture of AM General Corpo- after the war as a "Super Twin" coach, 15 vehicles were built ration and M.A.N. for 399 buses, which were deployed in in 1948. However, it was not a huge success; "its major flaw several cities including: Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, San was the inability to bend in the horizontal plane, resulting in Diego, Phoenix, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Washing- an unacceptably large turning radius" (2). For the next three ton, D.C. The introduction of these buses was successful, met decades there was little interest in North America in articu- with positive public acceptance, and improved operator pro- lated buses for transit. The situation was quite the contrary in ductivity. M.A.N. subsequently opened its own production

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6 facility in the early 1980s and continued delivery of articu- focus on BRT and the growing number of BRT projects lated buses until 1987. being deployed in North America have created a North American demand for new rail-like stylized HC buses. North In a parallel development, Ikarus formed a joint venture American manufacturers have responded to this interest and with Crown Coach to build and market articulated transit demand with the development of a new array of BRT-styled buses in America. Ikarus technology and bodies were used buses, typically in a low-floor articulated design, and a new with interiors and drive trains provided by American suppli- generation of BRT-style HC buses has been deployed, as ers. There were 243 CrownIkarus Model 286 articulated new BRT systems come on line [e.g., Los Angeles, Las puller-type buses assembled between 1981 and 1986. The Vegas, and Eugene (Oregon)]. The positive reaction to these initial deliveries were made to transit systems in Albany, vehicles, and their operating characteristics, has renewed Jacksonville, Honolulu, Houston, Louisville, Milwaukee, interest in the use of HC buses in transit systems across North Portland, San Diego, and San Mateo. Ikarus also partnered America. with Orion Bus to market to Canadian systems. The Orion III articulated bus was delivered to transit systems in Ottawa and In terms of other HC buses under consideration in this Toronto. The historical roots of the Ikarus articulated bus report, double-deck buses also have historical roots. For ex- were transferred through the corporate structures of Ikarus ample, the Fifth Avenue Coach in New York City used USA and American Ikarus, and are now in North American double-deck buses as early as 1912. The open-top double- Bus Industries. Other European manufacturers (e.g., Breda, deck coach actually became synonymous with Fifth Avenue Neoplan, Scania, and Volvo) (3) also entered the North all through the early part of the last century. The design proved American market with varying levels of success. Seattle pur- both successful and durable, and double-deck buses were chased a unique dual-mode articulated bus from Breda for operated until 1953 (12). However, with a few exceptions and use in their downtown tunnel. In the early 1990s, New Flyer experimentations, North American interest in double-deck developed a high-floor articulated pusher-type bus, followed buses remained dormant for the next four decades. The inter- later by low-floor articulated bus models. est in double-deck buses was rekindled in British Columbia the late 1990s, when BC Transit (BCT)Victoria began More recently, the explosion of interest in North America examining the possibility of acquiring double-deck buses to in the concept of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has fueled a grow- provide improvements in capacity, customer comfort, and ing interest in HC buses, in particular BRT-styled articulated financial performance. BCT and Dennis Specialist Vehicles buses. The roots of the BRT concept have existed for some developed a specification that met their needs. A contract for time; there have been exclusive right-of-way busways in op- ten double-deck buses utilizing standard North American eration in Pittsburgh and in Ottawa since the late 1970s and components was issued in 1998. The bus subsequently com- early 1980s, and both transit systems rely extensively on the pleted the Altoona Bus Testing Center (ABTC) tests, was cer- use of articulated buses for these services. In 1996, Vancouver tified for the North America market, and has been deployed in introduced the 99 B-Line, which incorporated uniquely and the cities of Victoria, Kelowna (BC), and Las Vegas. stylishly branded articulated buses resulting in immediate success and attracting 15,000 passengers a day, 20% who The 1990s also saw a variety of other HC bus technolo- formerly drove (4). The B-Line BRT product was further gies introduced into North America. The largest deployment refined with the 98 and 97 B-Lines, which now use low-floor was that of 45-ft intercity coaches, used in suburban com- articulated buses. The B-Lines in Vancouver were viewed as muter operations. Before 1991, 45-ft buses were prohibited one product line in a family of services. The high levels of by most jurisdictions. However, the 1991 federal program service and capacity offered by the B-Lines served to grow ISTEA introduced the concept of the National Network ridership in these corridors to the point where the 98 B-Line (NN) highways, and defined vehicle width and length stan- is currently being replaced by the construction of rail transit dards for the NN. In particular, it prohibited states from along the same corridor. restricting buses that were 45 ft or less on NN highways, which enabled this new type of HC bus. New 45-ft bus in- Interest in BRT started to grow in the United States in the tercity coach models were developed and marketed, and late 1990s, promoted in particular by significant initiatives transit systems started taking advantage of this opportunity at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation deploying them on long-distance commuter express ser- Authority and the FTA. A federal BRT demonstration pro- vices, typically along Interstate highways or expressways, to gram was initiated to research successful deployments serve suburban park-and-ride terminals. Today, more than around the world (e.g., Curitiba) and develop guidance (58) 2,000 such buses, primarily sold by Motor Coach Industries for the many transit systems across the United States that (MCI) Inc., are currently in operation across North America. were planning HC transit corridors, many of which would In addition, in the late 1990s, the North American Bus use HC buses. These initiatives resulted in extensive research Industries introduced a low-floor composite-body two-axle and evaluation concerning the keys to success of BRT sys- 45-ft transit bus to the U.S. market. The Model 45C-LFW tems around the world, including extensive assessments of CompoBus is deployed in the cities of Los Angeles, vehicle alternatives and characteristics (911). The intensive Phoenix, and Tempe.