The Sound Transit double-decker buses replace the articulated buses on Everett to Bellevue routes along I-405. The 14.5-foot tall buses seat more people for an equal footprint and similar fuel economy. Kailan Manandic/staff photo

The Sound Transit double-decker buses replace the articulated buses on Everett to Bellevue routes along I-405. The 14.5-foot tall buses seat more people for an equal footprint and similar fuel economy. Kailan Manandic/staff photo

Double-deckers descend on the Eastside

The new 14.5-foot tall buses will run from Everett to Bellevue, with stops in Bothell and Kirkland.

Sound Transit recently rolled out double-decker buses in a regional partnership along the I-405 corridor.

The new buses will run along Sound Transit routes 532 and 535, which include stops in Bothell, Kirkland and end in Bellevue. They’ll replace the 60-foot long articulated buses, fitting more riders and offering a view high above traffic.

“More seats and more room mean more comfort for transit riders in Bellevue,” Bellevue Mayor John Chelminiak said. “We appreciate Sound Transit’s efforts to increase the capacity of commuter routes, especially as our region continues to deal with congestion.”

Sound Transit maintains an operational partnership with Community Transit, which is the only agency in the region with facilities to maintain and operate double-decker busses. Originally introduced throughout Snohomish County in 2014, the Sound Transit double-decker fleet now includes 37 busses.

The double-decker buses can seat 77 passengers with an overall capacity of 120, compared to an articulated bus with a seat capacity of 59 and a 90-passenger overall capacity.

“Community Transit has a fleet of 70 double decker buses, which we call ‘double talls.’ We also operate approximately 37 Sound Transit double-decker buses,” said Martin Manguia, spokesperson for Community Transit. “Together, that makes 107 double-deckers in service in the Puget Sound area. This is the second largest double decker fleet in the U.S., after Las Vegas.”

While the double talls offer more seating for the same footprint and about the same fuel economy as the articulated buses they are replacing, there are some complications in bus routing. Sound Transit has had to work closely with Eastside cities to “prune” the routes and ensure the 14.5-foot tall buses have enough clearance throughout the stops.

“Roads with low bridge clearances are off-limits. Once we identified corridors we wanted the buses to run on, we had to contact local jurisdictions to see if they would trim trees along those roads,” Manguia said. “Sometimes the answer is ‘yes,’ sometimes it is ‘no.’ Sometimes a yes has a lengthy timeline, as in the case in the Bellevue area.”

Additionally, double-deckers present a cost-related obstacle, costing more than an articulated bus and requiring base modifications to house and maintain the vehicles. According to Manguia, the base-upgrades cost about $6 million, which was partially shared with Sound Transit.

The buses were officially implemented along the I-405 corridor at the end of March and according to Sound Transit spokesperson, Rachelle Cunningham, the rider response has been positive.

“When we introduce them into our routes, people are super excited about them,” Cunningham said. “The view from up top is spectacular, especially in our region.”

More in News

A high tide at Raymond’s Willapa Landing Park in Grays Harbor County, Washington. Sound Publishing file photo
On the West Coast, Washington is most prone to sea level rise damage

Report by the Center for Climate Integrity shows multibillion-dollar cost of battling back the sea.

Triplett talks 2019-20 Kirkland plans

The city manager addressed residents a Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

What’s next for Washington’s 2045 green energy goal?

The Legislature set the goal, but how does the state actually get there?

LWTech board extends contract for Morrison

College president Dr. Amy Morrison’s contract has been approved through 2024.

Tasting room proposal could redefine alcohol production in King County

Pilot program would benefit wineries, breweries and distilleries. Several farmers are concerned.

Former soccer team owner faces rape charge in Kirkland case

King County prosecutors filed charge against Dion Earl.

Kirkland City Hall. Reporter file photo
City of Kirkland network restored | UPDATE

The network problem was caused by a broken strand of fiber.

Juanita Beach is closed through the weekend

High levels of E. Coli are making it unsafe to be in.

Most Read