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Two-decker city bus makes debut trip, gets rave reviews

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Two-decker city bus makes debut trip, gets rave reviews

By MATTHEW LYSIAK and PETE DONOHUE

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

September 12th 2008

 

alg_double_decker.jpg

Bonifacio/News

Some commuters felt like they were on a joy ride on a new double-decker bus

the MTA is auditioning for its fleet. The first test runs were Thursday.

 

NYC Transit's double-decker bus elicited double-takes and rave reviews from commuters as it made its debut Thursday morning.

 

"This is great. This is unbelievable," Chris Maffeo, 45, gushed in his upper-level seat as the 13-foot big rig rolled through a Staten Island neighborhood. "Wow - look at the people down there. They look so far away."

 

Sitting in the first row on the top level, Laura Liamero, 38, was in no rush to reach her destination, clearly enjoying the unimpeded view of the streets below.

 

"I feel like a little kid," she said. "This seat is first class - front row - the orchestra seat!"

 

Bus managers are giving the Belgium-made Van Hool bi-level a 35-day road test as they consider making double-deckers a regular part of the fleet.

 

Except for a brief period in the late 1970s and the bright-red tourist buses in Manhattan, double-deckers haven't been used for mass transit in the city since the early 1950s. They are getting a second look as a way to cut expenses; managers can move more people with fewer vehicles and less fuel.

 

If there is a downside to the trip back to the future, it's the lack of headroom. The first level measures 71 inches - 5 feet 11 inches - from floor to ceiling. The upper deck is just 67 inches, or 5-feet-7.

 

The average American man is 5-feet-9. The average female is 5-feet-4.

 

Those limitations didn't bother the 25 riders who took the double-decker's first trip along the X17 express route.

"I feel like a freakin' midget, but with this view up here it's definitely worth the hunched over walk," said Matthew Wagner, 26, a waiter who stands 6-feet-2 inches tall.

 

As the bus made a few scheduled stops to pick up passengers in Staten Island, people pointed and gawked. Some remained at curbside, apparently confused and uncertain that it was a NYC Transit bus.

 

"I did a double take when I saw it was a double-decker, but this is great, said Francesca Romano, 21, a college student studying fashion who took an upolstered seat on the first level. "I can get used to this. It's quite comfortable

Adriane Heiman, 30, agreed but wouldn't venture upstairs.

 

"No way ... ," she said. "I'm afraid of heights."

 

The bus is too tall for the Lincoln Tunnel's 13-foot height limit - so it ducked. It features a system using GPS technology that is programmed to recognize when it is approaching the Lincoln Tunnel, NYC Transit spokesman Charles Seaton said. An air valve is activated to lower the bus two inches, Seaton said.

 

Other than a few audible beeps on board, there was no indication that such a maneuver was occurring.

 

Bus managers plan on moving the bi-level to other routes during the 35 day test.

 

"Oh, geez, now I'm really spoiled," Liamero said when told of the plan. "It's going to stink to go back to my normal express bus, but I'll tell you one thing, it was double the fun."

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Yeah, I have to ride this bus for real. That looks and sounds like so much fun right there. I hope it passes the 35-day test with flying colors.

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If there is a downside to the trip back to the future, it's the lack of headroom. The first level measures 71 inches - 5 feet 11 inches - from floor to ceiling. The upper deck is just 67 inches, or 5-feet-7.

 

The average American man is 5-feet-9. The average female is 5-feet-4.

 

Those limitations didn't bother the 25 riders who took the double-decker's first trip along the X17 express route.

"I feel like a freakin' midget, but with this view up here it's definitely worth the hunched over walk," said Matthew Wagner, 26, a waiter who stands 6-feet-2 inches tall.

 

"It's going to stink to go back to my normal express bus, but I'll tell you one thing, it was double the fun."

 

While those comments were made in a state of excitement, those issues might be too much to bear as time goes by. I can see kids and little old ladies riding these, but I don't know about anyone else. That last statement might be the common course of action for most.

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This is a joke! where will they store them,how will you fuel them...........oh yeah,let's build a new depot for $20million...............oops their goes the savings...........typical

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I can see these being used on Express routes. I don't know how they would work on regular routes. Imagine having to wait 2-3 minutes for someone to climb down from the upper level. The interior also seems too nice for local routes.

 

When I was in London for my honeymoon we rode on several of the double decker buses. It's great fun.

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