This may not be an exhaustive list (I encourage people to add what I've overlooked in the comments), but here's a quick look at some of them:
- Higher seating capacity. Although the expected capacity for a double-decker is supposed to be around the same number as an articulated, there are more seats--which means more comfort for passengers.
- Lower road-space per person. Double-deckers are the same length as a 40-foot bus, but have the same capacity as an articulated. Anyone who's ridden through the Transitway at peak periods knows this more compactness can be valuable.
- Lower costs. The new buses will replace 158 older 40-foot buses in the fleet, meaning lower maintenance costs; net savings are estimated at $20.4M.
- Simpler identification. Typically, if you're waiting for an express bus, you can watch for a double-decker. If you're looking for a Transitway route, look for an articulated. Seems minor, but as dozens of buses are driving by you at Bank and Albert or something, it can be a serious relief.
- Less flexibility. The double-deckers are earmarked for express routes, but there are a certain few spots where they can't run. This reduces the flexibility of moving them around as needed, and will require more planning.
- No garage space. Although part of the $81.8M price tag is $24M for new washing facilities, the new $97M bus garage on Industrial Avenue is not designed with double-deckers in mind.
- Accessibility. There are some concerns about accessibility for riders in wheelchairs, as outlined by CBC. They will likely be addressed, but are initially an issue.
- Loading time. Because riders can't (or aren't supposed to) be standing in the stairs or on the upper deck while the bus is moving, loading and unloading time is a concern. (This is less of a concern on express routes, where stops are less frequent.)
While I'm not sure the fleet--already a very modern one--necessarily needed these upgrades just yet, the addition of double deckers could very well prove a positive move for OC Transpo.