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Ride taller: Sound Transit orders 32 more double decker transit buses

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Popular double decker buses bound for Snohomish County routes

The Sound Transit Board today approved the purchase of 32 more double decker buses to roll out on Snohomish County-based routes.

That will bring the total double decker fleet up to 37 buses. Last year Sound Transit added five double decker buses to its fleet.

"We're able to carry more people on some of our most popular and crowded routes with the same number of buses and drivers – that's a big victory for thousands of riders every day," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The double decker buses provide 81 seats, and great views of the Cascade mountains, compared to the 56-seat articulated buses they will replace. That's a 30 percent increase in passenger capacity with the same number of operators. Sound Transit will reassign the buses they are replacing to other routes within King County.

Production of the buses is scheduled to begin in November 2016 with delivery expected to begin in April 2017. By late 2018 Sound Transit expects to operate double decker buses on all its Snohomish County-based routes.

The articulated buses being reassigned to King County are five years old and still have a useful life. Sixteen of the buses will replace buses that have reached the end of their useful life, and the remaining 16 will be used for future service expansions on ST Express routes operated by King County.

The double decker buses will be limited to Snohomish County routes because Community Transit has experience maintaining and operating them following the launch of their "Double Tall" service in 2011. Sound Transit contracts with Community Transit to operate its Snohomish County-based routes.

Sound Transit is also reserving an option to purchase 43 more double decker buses in the future, making the entire Snohomish County fleet double deckers.