April 6, 2018

TransLink Says Double~Deckers are a "Go"

There has been a four-month demonstration project with double-decker buses being used by TransLink in Delta, Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Vancouver.  The test buses were loaned by  Alexander Dennis the firm that manufactures them. The trial was successful enough that Translink hopes to add 32 buses by June 2019.
Despite some early learning moments in Delta, including tree branch encroachments and low overhead wires, the double-decker buses were well received. These buses have an increased passenger capacity and a steady ride.  An interim report as mentioned in the Delta Optimist indicated that passengers were 75 per cent more likely to take transit if it was a double-decker. There are a couple of hiccups~diesel double-deckers were found to be more compact and also more efficient, although that’s not necessarily the best fuel source for the environment.  But the “panoramic views from the top deck, wide, well-lit staircase with handrails, a screen that allows riders to see vacant seats up top before going upstairs and full accessibility with a low step, flat floor and ramp for boarding” won over passengers.
The new double-deckers are being bought using federal gas tax funds, and will replace the more elderly Orion buses on some TransLink routes.

Posted in


If you love this region and have a view to its future please subscribe, donate, or become a Patron.

Share on


    1. The per-passenger fossil fuel consumption and GHG emissions are still remarkably low for buses compared to cars, no matter if the fuel is liquid or gas. There are also hybrid buses out there, albeit more expensive than diesel-burning models. Added to the benefits of moving comparably more people, bus service could be improved in all cities (but especially the suburbs) as one of the most affordable initiatives in a serious national or provincial climate policy.
      Of course, that will require vision and foresight, attributes I’m not convinced politicos in Victoria or Ottawa possess at present with pipelines and export-only LNG taking up their limited headspace.
      Having said that, Alberta has condescended to BC with the threat (rhetorical or not) to shut off the supply of oil and refined fuel currently shipped through Trans Mountain Pipe No. 1 to BC unless the province caves on its right to conduct scientific studies on bitumen spills and assume undefined risk. This does illuminate the fact that 90+ % of our fuel comes from that one pipe, which supplies feedstock to the Parkland refinery in Burnaby and other refineries in Washington state.
      In that light, I’d opt for BC gas in those buses. It is from fracked shale in NE BC, and is therein problematic in the long run in several respects. But the infrastructure is already in place. A multi-year policy to displace priority diesel with gas province-wide (transit, emergency and priority freight) is within the realm of possibility in the medium term to lessen BC’s addiction to Alberta oil (and possibly build a strategic reserve) until transit can be built up within and between our cities and renewables developed on a much wider scale.

      1. There is usually a reason why it’s not done, or not done to scale, and the reason is usually price. As such, it would be consistent green policy to state: we will replace all diesel buses with CNG ( or electric) buses but we raise fares by X % to do it.
        Everyone loves being green, but when it comes to paying for it, not so much I suspect.
        Ditto with BC Ferries.

      2. The world price of natural gas is currently very low, so it’s a surprise to hear about the resurrection of LNG exports. What I’m saying is that more NG could be devoted to domestic use in transportation to offset the threat of jurisdictional squabbles, part of which being the fact that BC does not have control over the majority of its liquid fuels and is therefore extremely vulnerable to Alberta spittle-ladden invective. The gas pipelines are already in place to the south from Fort St. John.
        In addition, priority domestic consumers could benefit from the lower prices in a government-aided conversion from diesel, which should be seen only as an interim step to bide time while building a much greater clean electricity generation and transmission legacy with new geothermal, wind, tidal and solar.
        Land-based transit, emergency services, high priority freight (e.g. food) and farming would be the focus of this effort. Attempting to replace all fossil fuels in the domestic car fleet will run into the laws of physics: There are just too many cars. Therefore, our generations old precepts on urbanism must adapt to a world with less overall energy. Ergo mass transit being used to urbanize the suburbs.
        Ferries would be the exception and will need to maintain NG-powered diesel until some very significant breakthroughs in battery storage have occurred to permit much more efficient diesel-electric drives where charging won’t take a long time. BTW, there has been much progress by Toyota and others on solid state lithium ion batteries, and grid-scale district storage is already here in Toronto and Australia.

        1. Though resource depletion and / or supply contraints can play a role in renewables, notably with lithium, Canada has abundant supplies of copper, nickel and cobalt, the three other important metals that are used in lithium ion batteries.

    2. 1/ Does a CNG bus could cross the tunnel?
      2/ Translink has one of the cleanest bus fleet in NA, thanks to its trolleys.
      3/ CNG buses emit more GHG than diesel buses,
      so, if your concern is climate change., diesel is better.
      there is one caveat, diesel buses emit more PM (THC…) than CNG buses, what is an health issue.
      a/ but that is mainly true on punishing urban route not on hwy cruise
      b/ few people live along Hwy.
      4/ As pointed by Alex, one has to take the whole picture.
      a/ a decently patronized diesel bus pollute less than the amount of car it replace
      b/ diesel bus are cheaper to purchase and operate than CNG bus: you can put more more of them on the road at constant $, replacing more car, hence having more impact on pollution reduction.
      Diesel was a no brainer for the double decker buses (targeting route 351, 555,…).
      For more urban route, electric buses seem to be the right direction to look forward, not natural gas.

  1. Post
  2. Also on B-lines in lieu of wobbly long buses ?
    Unclear why in 2018 with all the focus on green, climate, air pollution and energy efficiencies – not to mention pipeline opposition – we still buy diesel buses in MetroVan ?

    1. There’s concern that double-deckers take longer to load/unload than articulateds. No comment on whether that’s actually true.

Subscribe to Viewpoint Vancouver

Get breaking news and fresh views, direct to your inbox.

Join 7,301 other subscribers

Show your Support

Check our Patreon page for stylish coffee mugs, private city tours, and more – or, make a one-time or recurring donation. Thank you for helping shape this place we love.

Popular Articles

See All

All Articles