Melbourne’s getting a new double decker bus.
It’s been on display at a trade show at Jeff’s Shed (that’s the Melbourne Exhibition Centre for those not in the know), and a PTV contact passed these photos on…
Inside, as you’d expect, the low ceiling makes it seem a little more cramped than single deck buses. But from memory of riding them in the UK, this isn’t generally seen as a problem.
Apparently there’s a digital display somewhere downstairs indicating how many seats are available upstairs.
The bus will be run by bus operator CDC, with the PTV branding, in the Werribee/Wyndham Vale area. I’m told by locals that some bus routes regularly get overcrowded around there. While routes in the area are being re-organised in June as part of the Regional Rail Link opening, you can bet there’ll be plenty of passenger demand thanks to the huge urban growth there.
This is good to see. Many cities around the world use them, and some routes (the university shuttles spring to mind) could do with higher-capacity buses.
Sure, they can’t run everywhere — low bridges in some parts of town would limit where they can be used. But existing tourist double deckers run in some parts of Melbourne, so there’s no reason they can’t be used on public routes.
Of course, you’d never want to see service frequencies reduced to counter the capacity boost. And increasing frequencies is obviously the preferable way to relieve crowding, but on frequent routes, bigger buses make sense.
In contrast with the argument against double decker trains, dwell times at stops don’t limit throughput on busy routes, because buses can overtake each other — though they might slow down the travel time.
This is not the first time double decker buses have run in Melbourne. They were common in the 1940s, as a replacement for cable trams in Bourke Street until the electric lines opened in the 1950s. I found this lovely photo of one, below, and it turns out there were others as early as the 1910s.
(Source: Lyle Fowler/Harold Paynting Collection, State Library of Victoria. )
The new bus has got some attention. Something a bit different, but more practical than monorails or ferries.
- The Age: Double-decker bus ready to rumble when Regional Rail Link opens
- 3AW: Double-decker buses coming to Melbourne
It’ll be interesting to see it in action, and to see if people like it and the government orders more.
Also notable in buses this week: a bunch more routes now have realtime information available, covering all Smartbuses and (it seems) all Transdev Melbourne routes. This expansion coincided with the launch of PTV’s new realtime API, allowing app developers to use the information to develop their own apps. Neato.
I’m told all buses have the relevant equipment fitted, and more realtime information will rollout pretty quickly to the rest of the suburban bus network. Trams obviously already have Tram Tracker, and trains… well, that’s trickier, they’re still working on it.