by Staten Island Advance
Monday September 08, 2008, 5:19 PM
It’s big, it’s blue, and it only takes a MetroCard swipe to take a ride.
The MTA and New York City Transit unveiled a new 81-seat double-decker bus today, as part of a pilot program to determine if the behemoths could once again resume passenger service along some of the city’s public bus routes.
The month-long test, which is set to begin Thursday, will determine whether the new buses are tough enough to handle the rigors — and potholes — of New York City streets.
The agency has not yet finalized its test routes, though they are expected to include one between Manhattan and Yonkers, local routes in Manhattan, and possibly an express to Staten Island route. Among the issues to be hammered out are the heights of bridges along certain routes, and tree pruning that may be necessary before the bus can hit particular streets.
Tourists still ride in double-decker buses throughout Manhattan and other boroughs, as part of privately operated sightseeing tours.
The last time double-deckers were used on public routes was 1953, when the last bus from the Fifth Avenue Coach Company stopped running along its Manhattan route.
“An iconic transportation option in London, as it once was here in New York City, double-deckers have built-in advantages over other bus models,” said Transit President Howard H. Roberts, Jr. The double-deckers also have several advantages over articulated “accordion” buses, with room for about 20 more seated passengers, less room taken up on the street, and they’re easier to maintain without the complex “turntable” mechanism that allows the accordions to swivel.