ATLANTA - MARTA is stirring up some buzz, by testing a new double decker bus. The taller bus seats twice the number of passengers as MARTA'S standard bus. Riders have said they love the new style and MARTA is working to see whether the double decker is a good fit for Atlanta.
The towering new 14-foot bus is catching attention all over town. "I saw it coming up 400 and I was like... woah!" said rider Joseph Allen White.
Some riders are changing their normal trip to try the new bus. "Actually, I was supposed to get on the 143, but I came on here instead," says rider Julian Bennett. "I just wanted to see what it was like inside, and I wasn't in any rush to get anywhere. It's awesome. I've just been looking out this window since we got on."
The $850,000 bus is on loan, being tested and moved around to different routes. So far, it's been a big hit. "It's been very positive, we've gotten a lot of exposure on social media. I think there's a little cult following now, for what route the bus is on and where you can see it," explained MARTA Chief Operating Officer Richard Krisak.
MARTA hopes to re-vamp bus service, customizing the size of each bus for individual routes. "Where we're trying to go with our bus fleet is to get away from the one size fits all concept," Krisak added.
These larger, more comfort driven buses that can move up to 100 passengers at a time may be the perfect option for busy routes such as those from park and ride lots.
Julian says he'd like to see more of them on Atlanta streets, "I just recently moved from Buckhead to Stone Mountain and the bus gets really packed commuting back and forth. Sometimes I've seen people not get on the bus because it was so packed but it seems like we could fit everybody on here now."
Because of its height, there are certain routes the taller buses wouldn't work. "We have to be obviously, careful about the routes we put it on, because we have to worry about the height restrictions in and out of the station, and bridges and things like that," said Krisak.
Certain routes would still need the regular 40-foot bus, but MARTA is also looking at smaller 30-foot buses for lighter routes, and the transit agency just put articulated buses in service. Articulated buses are the ones that look like an accordion, with a second body attached. They can move about the same number of passengers (113) as the double decker buses (100) and they cost about the same to purchase.
Alexander Dennis is the British company loaning the double decker bus to MARTA. The company actually builds the double decker buses here in the U.S., which would meet a "Buy America Requirement." That means MARTA could use federal funds to buy the buses.