OmniRide, the commuter bus service of the Woodbridge, Virginia-based Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, will test a double-deck commuter bus for the next few weeks, and passengers who climb aboard will be asked to fill out a survey instead of paying a fare.
The bus has a staircase toward the front interior and a video monitor at the staircase so passengers can get an indication of how full the second deck is before climbing the stairs.
The seating configuration on double-deck buses varies but this model, which is manufactured by Alexander Dennis Inc., has 81 seats, including 53 seats on the second deck. The low-floor bus can accommodate up to two passengers in wheelchairs at a time on the lower deck. OmniRide’s current commuter bus fleet is comprised of 57-seat buses manufactured by Motor Coach Industries.
“OmniRide’s staff is constantly looking for ways to better utilize resources,” said PRTC Chair Ruth Anderson. “While no decision has been made about whether or not to add double deck buses to OmniRide’s fleet, it’s clear that operating higher-capacity vehicles would reduce the number of buses needed and the amount of fuel used every day.”
OmniRide staff currently are examining all Express routes to ensure the bus can operate safely within the existing infrastructure, i.e. passing under bridges, making tight turns, and other maneuvers required when serving top destinations including the Pentagon, Metro Stations and downtown Washington, D.C.
While routes are selected for testing, a handful of operators will be trained to drive the 42-foot vehicle, which is 12 feet, 10 inches tall. Then, starting the week of April 8, the double-deck bus will be placed into service for about eight days, said OmniRide Executive Director Bob Schneider.
Passengers who have the opportunity to ride the bus won’t have to pay a fare; instead they’ll be asked to fill out a survey to help OmniRide evaluate the vehicle. OmniRide bus operators and mechanics also will provide input to help determine if double deck buses should be added to OmniRide’s fleet.