OmniRide plans to test a double-decker commuter bus for the next few weeks, and passengers will be asked to fill out a survey instead of paying a fare, according to a news release.
The buses manufactured by Alexander Dennis Inc. have 81 seats, with 53 on the second deck, and panoramic second-deck windows.
OmniRide’s current commuter bus fleet is comprised of 57-seat buses.
“OmniRide’s staff is constantly looking for ways to better utilize resources,” said PRTC Chair Ruth Anderson. “While no decision has been made about whether or not to add double deck buses to OmniRide’s fleet, it’s clear that operating higher-capacity vehicles would reduce the number of buses needed and the amount of fuel used every day.”
Anderson also represents the Occoquan District on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.
OmniRide staff currently are examining all express routes to ensure the bus can operate safely within the existing infrastructure, including passing under bridges, making tight turns and other maneuvers required when serving trips to the Pentagon, Metro stations and downtown Washington, D.C.
A handful of operators are being trained to drive the 42-foot vehicle. Starting the week of April 8, the double decker bus will be placed into service for about eight days, said OmniRide Executive Director Bob Schneider.
Passengers will be asked to fill out a survey to help OmniRide evaluate the vehicle. OmniRide will also be seeking input from bus operators and mechanics.