Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Interest in the Double Talls

British reporter Tim Deakin visited Community Transit this week to learn more about our Double Tall double decker buses.

Deakin is writing an article about bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis Limited's efforts to crack the U.S. market with its double deckers. Currently, The RTC of Southern Nevada has 150 double deckers that serve the Las Vegas area, and Community Transit has its fleet of 23 Double Talls. Several other U.S. transit agencies have either single buses, smaller fleets or demonstration double deckers in operation.

Deakin wanted to know how our drivers, mechanics and customers liked the buses, and was particularly interested in the build process for our buses. Community Transit's bus purchase, which was funded largely through the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (stimulus bill), was the first Buy America-compliant double decker order for ADL. That meant the buses, which have historically been built in Great Britain, had to be substantially built in the U.S. with American-made parts.

"We found there were some language barriers, even though we spoke the same language," said Strategic Planning and Grants Manager June DeVoll, who oversaw the bus purchase. "We could be using the same words, but they meant completely different things to us and them."

Despite the complexities and slight time delays involved in adapting a very British product and process to the American way, and the use of a new set of subcontractors from a different continent, the buses went into operation last year and have been a hit with our drivers, mechanics and, especially, our customers.

I explained to Deakin that when we had the one leased double decker from 2007-09, we created a web page to list the routes and times that bus was in operation because we got so many inqueries from people who wanted to ride that bus. We were resolved not to do that with the new fleet but, again, we were inundated with requests. Now, communications and dispatch staff collaborate to maintain a list of routes and times you can catch any of the 23 Double Tall buses.

Deakin is a freelance journalist based in London and says the article will appear in the trade magazine Buses sometime later this year.