Everett, Wash.’s Community Transit will purchase 17 double-decker buses to augment the agency’s current fleet of 45 “Double Talls” for commuter service to Seattle.
In June, the board authorized contracts for 26, 40-foot and 14, 60-foot buses to replace and expand the fleet as Community Transit embarks on a voter-approved expansion of service. With an upcoming order for 15 Swift bus rapid transit vehicles, the agency is looking to buy as many as 232 new buses in the next five years.
Community Transit plans to purchase an initial order of 17 Double Talls from manufacturer Alexander Dennis Inc., the builder of the Enviro 500 double-decker buses the agency current has in service. Four of the new buses will replace aging 60-foot buses that serve the Seattle commuter market; the other 13 double deckers will be expansion buses to accommodate new service.
Community Transit has operated double-decker buses since 2007 when it leased a bus and put it into service to test the feasibility of operating double deckers. Not only did passengers love the bus, but drivers found it handled better in inclement weather. With nearly 80 seats, and standing room for up to 30 more people, the double decker proved more efficient than the 60-foot buses it would replace.
Community Transit put 23 Double Talls into operation in 2011 and another 22 buses last year. The initial order of 17 buses will give the agency a total of 62 Double Talls when they arrive in mid-to-late 2017.
In June the board authorized two contracts for 40 standard diesel buses: 26 40-foot buses from Gillig LLC and 14 60-foot buses from New Flyer of America. The 60-foot buses will replace older buses while the 40-foot buses will expand the fleet.
These contracts have options for the purchase of up to 120 more buses through 2021.
The purchases stem from Snohomish County’s approval of an additional 0.3% sales tax for expanded transit service. On September 11, Community Transit will be adding two new routes, restructuring two routes and adding new commuter bus trips to Seattle. More bus trips within Snohomish County are approved to start in March 2017. This expansion represents a 14% increase over 2015 bus service levels.
This initial service expansion is being done with the existing bus fleet. Future service expansion requires additional buses. The buses authorized for purchase this summer will arrive in mid-to-late 2017. During 2017, another round of service additions will be announced and public comment will be taken.
Community Transit’s recently adopted six-year plan calls for a 40% increase in service over 2015 levels.