Uses of Higher Capacity Buses in Transit Service

Document Type


Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - capacity, planning - surveys, mode - bus, mode - bus rapid transit, literature review - literature review


Articulated buses, Bus capacity, Bus rapid transit, Canada, Case studies, Double deck buses, Interviewing, Literature reviews, Passenger capacity, Site visits, Special purpose buses, Surveys, Syntheses, Transit buses, Transit operating agencies, United States


This synthesis explores the use of higher capacity (HC) public transit buses in trunk, express, long-distance commuter, Bus Rapid Transit, and special (e.g., sports and special events) services in North America. For purposes of this study, HC buses included articulated, double-deck, 45-ft, and other buses that have a significant increase in passenger capacity compared with conventional 40-ft buses. This study examined where and how HC buses were being deployed in regular and flexible public transit services and experiences with these buses. It drew on available technical information from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA), HC bus manufacturers, and the Altoona (PA) Bus Testing Center in comparing HC buses with conventional buses with respect to a wide range of planning, operational, and maintenance issues. This synthesis is intended for an audience of transit agency general managers, their operations, planning, maintenance, and procurement staffs, as well as other transit professionals working with them in the deployment of HC buses. This synthesis contains information derived from survey data collected from selected transit agencies operating distinct HC bus fleets throughout the United States that provided information by e-mail, through telephone interviews, and by assisting in site visits. In addition, this synthesis contains a literature review and, in documenting transit agency surveys, it identifies a number of applications of HC buses. Ad hoc conversations with transit agency staff and experts on specific aspects of the synthesis are also reported, as are more specific findings in three U.S. and Canadian transit agency case studies.


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