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Double decker delight

The view from atop OC Transpo’s double-decker buses — rolled out forthe first time yesterday on Route 94 — was good enough for Mayor LarryO’Brien to get out his camera

The view from atop OC Transpo’s double-decker buses — rolled out for the first time yesterday on Route 94 — was good enough for Mayor Larry O’Brien to get out his camera and take some shots during a ride from Blair Station to MacKenzie King bridge downtown.

“This is a way of increasing the capacity of our bus system and I think it’s a very, very good move,” O’Brien told reporters.

“If they work out we’ll certainly be getting more.”

The three red-and-white double-deckers will be tested on Route 94 and gradually used on nine other express routes over the coming year.

If they prove to work for customers and are cost-effective, OC Transpo will order roughly 33 more double-deckers a year from now, said OC Transpo general manager Alain Mercier.

“I would like to go through one full winter with these buses before we finalize our firm order,” he said, adding that other cities such as Kamloops, B.C., and Victoria are increasing their orders on the two-level buses.

“There’s a lot of interest over this baby,” said a beaming Mercier, watching as bus-riding Ottawans climbed the stairs to the second level and looked around in wonder at the $625,000, 40-foot-long bus that stands 14 feet high.

The double-deckers are safer, less expensive and carry 96 passengers compared to an average of 70 on articulated buses, said Mercier.

Headroom on the top level is low, causing Coun. Bob Monette to stoop, although Coun. Alex Cullen was pleased that short people finally have an advantage.

The buses will take up less road space than articulated buses at crowded downtown bus stops, Cullen noted.