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56 CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS This synthesis explored the use of higher capacity (HC) buses Various other reasons were also cited for deploying HC in the transit industry. For the purposes of this study, HC buses buses including to address overload situations, reduce included articulated, double-deck, 45-ft coaches, and buses that downtown street congestion caused by large numbers have a significant increase in passenger capacity compared with of buses, and to build ridership along a future rail corri- the conventional 40-ft bus. The study involved several tasks, in- dor. In the case of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or major cluding a survey of transit agencies in North America using HC new service initiatives for which the vehicle becomes buses; a survey of bus manufacturers; reviews of documents an integral component of the product line, HC buses and websites; follow-up communications with transit man- may serve to improve the image and recognition of the agers, staff, and experts; and three case studies. Conclusions service. drawn from the research are briefly outlined here. HC buses are used in a variety of applications; however, certain patterns are apparent depending on the type of Approximately 19% of the transit agencies that are HC bus being considered. members of APTA and the Canadian Urban Transit As- Articulated buses are predominantly deployed in all- sociation and operate five or more motorbuses have HC day heavy-demand trunk (or BRT) services, but are buses in their fleets. also used to a lesser extent in various other types of HC buses represent on average 18% of the fleet of those services, including peak-only service on trunk routes, agencies that operate HC buses. commuter express services to park-and-ride lots, trip- The significance of HC buses, as a percentage of the pers that experience overloads, replacement service fleet, does not show any particular pattern according to for rail shut-downs, and high-demand special events. agency size. HC buses represent on average 20% of the Articulated buses were the most frequent HC type fleet for the largest transit agencies, those with more used for BRT. than 1,000 buses; 11% to 13% for transit agencies with Double-deck buses are being used not only in long- fleets between 101 and 1,000 buses; and an average of distance commuter express services, but also on heavy- 38% for the smallest transit agencies with fleets of demand trunk routes (e.g., Las Vegas and Victoria). fewer than 100 buses. The high percentage for small Forty-five foot intercity coaches are the most focused transit agencies is partially explained by a number of in their application because they are overwhelmingly small commuter operations with fleets composed en- used in long-distance express commuter services. tirely of 45-ft intercity coaches. However, one respondent uses its 45-ft coaches for As of March 2007, there were only eight bus manufac- transportation service to the airport from park & ride turers identified as potential HC bus suppliers to the lots and terminals for both airport employees and North American market. Some of the eight manufactur- passengers. The storage bays provide ample and easy ers offer different types of HC buses; three offer articu- transport of luggage. The agency also extended one lated buses, one offers double-deck buses, and five offer route to a ski lodge during the winter season using its 45-ft buses. Of the eight North American HC bus man- 45-ft coaches with storage bays for transport of ufacturers, three meet the testing requirements of both sports equipment and luggage. the Altoona Bus Testing Center and Buy America that The history of HC bus deployment varies considerably are needed for transit agencies planning to use U.S. fed- by type of HC bus: eral capital grants to purchase HC buses. Of the respondents with articulated buses, 50% The most predominant rationale (94% of respondents) deployed them more than two decades ago. for purchasing HC buses (all types) was to provide in- Forty-five-foot coaches were made legal in 1991, but creased seating capacity. Other important rationales did not really become deployed in transit until after were to reduce peak vehicle requirements (72%) or to 2000 (78% of respondents). increase bus operator productivity (69%). All HC bus Double-deck buses have been deployed only in the types were similar in the ranking of purchasing reasons; last decade. however, marketing image was frequently cited as an Overwhelmingly (94%), respondents reported that their important reason for 45-ft coach and double-deck buses HC buses met their expectations. Dissatisfaction with (71% and 67%, respectively). the slowness of wheelchair boarding and an under-

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57 performing engine were given as the reasons for the HC Scheduling routes that are dedicated to HC buses vehicles not meeting original expectations. (i.e., scheduling at the "block" level) is relatively Overall experience with HC buses has generally been straightforward. However, to target the deployment of positive, with some variation by type of vehicle. HC buses to address specific overload situations through Agency-reported customer and operator acceptance of interlining requires a more sophisticated approach to HC buses is high. The articulated fleets received slightly scheduling, including working at the "trip" (rather then lower ratings than those for the double-deck and 45-ft block) level, the use of optimization modules, as well as fleets. detailed data on passenger demand and running and The most common area of concern for all transit sys- deadhead times. It also requires managerial oversight to tems with HC buses was the capital cost of the vehicle. ensure that planned assignments of HC buses are prop- It ranked as the most, or second most, significant con- erly carried out. cern by approximately one-third of survey respondents; Reducing dwell time to take full advantage of HC buses there was no other single issue that was significant remains a significant challenge. For articulated buses in across all HC buses. particular, the ability to use all doors for simultaneous However, when comparisons of capital costs are made boarding and exiting is key to shorter dwell times. Be- on a per-seat basis, all types of HC buses are much more cause more and wider doors facilitate quick passenger attractive and some are even less expensive than their flow, Las Vegas will install a second stairway in the 40-ft equivalents (standard floor articulated, hybrid double-deck buses to facilitate passenger flow from the articulated, and double-deck diesel buses). upper deck and reduce dwell times. Several respondents Because of their length, height, or door locations, HC are also encouraging more customers to use pre-paid buses may require modifications to infrastructure or fare media (e.g., day passes, university passes, and maintenance facilities. However, the cost of modifica- smart cards), and one respondent installed off-board tions was not identified by respondents as a significant ticketing machines. However, the most comprehensive area of concern and appeared relatively modest in com- approach is to move to a fare control system based on parison with the capital cost of the vehicles themselves. Proof of Payment (POP) with random inspection, simi- In many cases, deployment of the articulated buses had lar to that used on light rail systems. This is being more been contemplated well in advance of actual acquisition actively considered for bus transit, and the synthesis of the buses and had been incorporated into the design found that POP with off-board fare collection has been requirements of new garage facilities. Long-term plan- deployed on recent BRT systems. ning for HC buses greatly reduces the requirement for Accommodating wheelchairs on HC buses represents retrofits to maintenance and storage facilities. another challenge, especially with respect to the impli- Some frustrations appear to exist with the performance cations on dwell time. The time and effort required to and maintenance cost of specific bus models, in particu- accommodate wheelchairs represents the most common lar for articulated buses. Issues cited include accelera- complaint from transit agencies with 45-ft intercity tion performance, reliability, and maintenance cost. The coaches. Some transit agencies with double-deck or design of articulated buses however includes more com- articulated buses have implemented mid-door access ponents than 40-ft buses and therefore entails higher and/or rear-facing wheelchair positions as a method for maintenance costs. Their fuel economy and acceleration reducing the dwell time of HC buses. performance are also lower largely because of their Agencies reported that passengers' most-liked feature greater weight. However, when an analysis was per- of HC buses varied depending on type. Passengers formed on data on a seat-mile basis, the articulated buses appreciated the increase in the number of seats and less proved to be less costly than the 40-ft fleets in both crowding of articulated buses. They liked the upper maintenance and fuel costs. level's quiet, ride quality, and view of the double-deck Preliminary findings from the operation of hybrid ar- buses, and sometimes would let another bus pass if they ticulated buses appear positive in terms of improving saw a double-deck bus coming. The most liked features acceleration and fuel economy compared with diesel of the 45-ft coaches were the comfort of the ride and the articulated buses. quality of the passenger compartment with all the The operation of HC buses does not appear to create amenities and image. significant safety concerns. Survey respondents did not identify regulatory limita- Four areas for future research have been identified. tions as a significant issue. However, operation of artic- ulated and double-deck buses may require obtaining The impact of vehicle amenities (e.g., seat quality, ride exemptions in many jurisdictions. comfort, reading lights, reduced interior noise, writing There were no labor issues of significance related to tables, and Wi-Fi access) on ridership is poorly under- the operation of HC buses. The survey found that 97% stood. "Passenger comfort" is not included as a variable of transit agencies do not pay operators of HC buses a in demand forecast models, was not identified as a factor different wage rate. in the TCRP Traveler Response research, and is rarely

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58 assessed. A better understanding of this issue would help for new BRT systems. Research would be valuable to to identify which features and amenities of HC buses are document existing experience and to develop best prac- likely to increase transit ridership. tice guidelines related to the application of POP-based According to survey respondents, one of the main objec- fare control, with or without off-board fare collection tives in deploying HC buses was to address "overload" equipment. and "pass-up" situations. Considerable research has been Europeans use a wider range of HC buses including 15-m carried out over the years concerning service reliability three-axle transit buses, in particular in Germany, as well as a determinant of mode choice. However, little under- as bi-articulated buses. The 15-m bus was implemented to standing exists on the potential benefits from addressing compensate for seating capacity that was lost by the move overloads and pass-ups on potential transit ridership to low-floor buses. It would be useful to explore European retention rates. experience with the 15-m and bi-articulated buses, and Some transit agencies are using POP fare control for HC assess the potential issues affecting the transferability of buses and the concept is becoming increasingly important such HC buses to the North American context.