Does Kingston Need Double Decker Buses?

Double Decker BusWhen someone mentions double decker buses, chances are you conjure up images of the UK’s iconic red-coloured variety, or perhaps the open air models that are used to ferry around tourists on sightseeing ventures in larger cities. Save for the Megabuses that operate between Montreal and Niagara Falls, there aren’t too many cities in Canada that actually employ double decker buses as a part of their public transit system. Last week, OC Transpo reconfirmed that Ottawa is moving towards incorporating approximately 75 double decker buses into their fleet of over 1,000 buses, which already include a number of articulated models. This got me thinking about the future of Kingston Transit, and whether or not double decker models might be a good fit for the Limestone City’s public transit scheme. Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:
[poll id=”92″]
I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw one of our city buses zoom past a scheduled stop because it was too full, so perhaps the increased capacity offered by double decker buses isn’t needed – yet.  That said, if investments in public transportation and our interest in sustainability continue to thrive, perhaps this novel idea is worthy of a serious discussion. When you consider that one double decker bus has the capacity of two traditional models, requires less fuel, operators, road space and maintenance, perhaps these wacky mass people movers are an ideal fit for Kingston’s Master Transportation Plan. And now that they come in hybrid flavours, they’re an even tastier option from a sustainability point of view. Just don’t look at the price tag.

Do you think double decker buses would work here, or do you see them as a gimmick? Would you rather have an LRT system in Kingston instead?  How would you change local commuter culture for the better?

Thanks to lippert61 for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

18 thoughts on “Does Kingston Need Double Decker Buses?

  • I have never seen a Kingston bus full – ever. Until our transpo system is working well enough to get people to actually use it, I see no need for double deckers.

  • What we really need is more of the smaller buses, and less use of the current large ones. Buses coming across the causeway are almost always carrying 3 or 4 passengers. The small buses should be used for off-peak times..

  • Like others, I think Kingston would benefit far more from (perhaps smaller) buses stopping with higher frequency than from bigger buses with higher capacity. It shouldn't take an hour to get from downtown to the Cataraqui Centre and I should have more confidence in finding a bus home from the RioCan Centre than Columbus did when he blindly set out find land in the Atlantic.

  • The #2 and #6 buses are packed during the school day with Queen's and St. Lawrence students. During the busy times, they need to run an extra bus to gather the extra students.

  • I agree with the other comments. In particular, an increased frequency with smaller buses would be a step in the right direction. This was implemented on the old # 7 route around Auden Park in the west-end of Kingston, and it was effective.

  • Have to disagree with your comment. Try the #6 at rush times during the school year. Literally no room to breathe. DDs may be viable option.

  • #2 is almost always overcrowded at 8am in the morning to St. Lawrence College, they really only run extra buses between Queen's and SLC. I don't think Kingston Transit needs double decker buses, what Kingston Transit is better management of the bus. The evening schedule and Sunday schedule are horrible and inconvenient, and Kingston Transit has no plans on changing that. It's one of the worst city bus systems I have ever taken.

    • I agree with you. I take this bus every morning and most mornings it's a race to see who can get a seat, and that's still while it's at it's origin stop at the Kingston Centre. By the time it hits Johnson street the bus is packed right to the front doors and the driver REGULARLY has to leave people standing at the stops after this point. However, I don't believe a double decker would be the answer, but the every 15-minute idea for peak times is a fantastic idea! I also agree with the evening schedule issue……HORRIBLE!!!!!! Sundays I can understand to a degree, but people are still coming to and from work/school during the week and it's difficult to get around when the buses are on such a limited schedule.

  • Half of the problem with the bus system is the demand shifts based around the school year. I catch a bus between 8-9 heading from the Cat Centre to DT and normally it's quite full but it rarely gets to the point where there are not enough seats. I really don't see the demand for larger buses. I see a demand to have more frequent buses and perhaps the smaller bus idea is good. I see the smaller buses kicking around from time to time but I almost feel like these routes can be done away with as you never see a person on that bus. Everyday there is a Dalton Ave bus that shows up at my stop, parks for 5 minutes and leaves again and there is never anyone on it. Either use a small bus or get rid of the route if people don't use it.

  • Please have a look at the Transit Redevelopment Plan for more information about planned service changes, including increased frequency on weekdays, evenings, and Sundays starting in : .

    • Thanks for the post. The report is well laid out. I agree with the findings that a 15 minute service is the minimum standard at which transit becomes an attractive option for riders.

  • Perhaps on selected routes. I would take public transport more often, but from my house I can get to my job downtown in 20 minutes door to door including finding parking. By bus it takes approximately 65 minutes including walk time. So to do a round trip by bus, I need to find another 1 hour 30 minutes in my day. Now, the last time took public transport, the one driver left early from my transfer point (in fact, he looked, saw me coming, and left), and my transfer didn't carry over BY ONE MINUTE so it cost me another fare. For $7.50, I could have driven for LESS. SO…to spend my tax money on double deckers when the city can't get its act together for regular prompt service? SO not in favor…..

  • Hey, do you guys know about the Kingston Coalition for Active Transporation petition to the City to include bike lanes in Williamsville. Please sign the petition by tomorrow http://www.kcat.ca

    • Great that you're sharing this site with us, but the "sign by tomorrow" (which is now today) comment reflects poor planning in my opinion. If you are serious about getting your message out and obtaining support/signatures, it would be worth while to share your site more than 24 hours out from the deadline. I don't mean to single you out, but we get a lot of these last minute great ideas, which makes it difficult to give them proper representation.

  • This is a good discussion. I agree that there need to be big changes, particularly to the evenings and Sunday schedule, to get more people on the buses. I can also vouch that the #2 and #6 buses in mornings and early evenings are often very full. But I have a question: What are the most important things that Kingston Transit needs to do to get more people on the buses? Is it a more frequent schedule (e.g. every 15 minutes)? Is it better designed routes? Is it better/different buses (e.g. doubledeckers)? What about being able to find out when the next bus is coming via smartphone? What other factors are important?

  • I would like Kingston Transit to have a double decker bus.
    They look nice.

  • I would like Kingston Transit to have a double decker bus. On Route b and eb

  • All decision like this should be based on data. Raw data. Weigh out the cost/benefits of more busses vs double deckers and all overhead clearances along the routes and pair that against occupancy. Riding in comfort can make for a batter day afterward though!

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