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Double-decker buses to run again in Sydney

Sydney Morning Herald, 23 August 2012

Double-decker buses are returning to Sydney, as part of a government trial to free road space across the city. The first bus, unveiled this morning by the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, will enter service on Monday, running routes between Blacktown and the north-west suburbs. And seven more will start in the new year, operating routes between the city, the north-west, and the northern beaches as part of the trial to run until 2014.

For a city starved of road space during morning and afternoon peak hours, double-deck buses bring their pros and cons.

Their main disadvantage is in the increased "dwell time", or the length of time it takes passengers to alight and board.

"Double decker buses take about twice the capacity of regular buses," Ms Berejiklian said this morning.

"And actually also they have greater capacity than the articulated or bendy buses," she said.

"We are learning from the trial – it's not the be-all and end-all. It won't replace all buses."

Each bus will cost about $650,000, and the first service will be run by the private operator, Busways. The later trial services will be run by CDC and Forest Coach Lines.

Under the terms of Sydney's private bus contracts, the bus operators purchase the new vehicles but the government pays them back over their life-space.

Ms Berejiklian said the double-deck buses would be useful on routes with fewer stops, and where passengers spent long periods on board.

"It makes sense to us, especially on longer routes, to give customers who are travelling long distances on a bus and don't need to hop on and off all the time… a trial."

Double-deck buses ran in Sydney, operated by the government and private operators, between the 1920s and 1980s.

But reliability problems cruelled the fleet in the 1980s, and the last regular service, from Wynyard to Taylor's Point, was taken out of service in 1986.

The buses bought for the new trial will be manufactured in southern Queensland, Ms Berejiklian said. She said 40 per cent of the manufacturing workers were from NSW.

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