|The Double-Tall from Community Transit Blog|
MCI buses: Cramped and Prone to DelayWhile the ride quality can only be compared to riding a train, which I assume is what service and operations planners were after - and MCI's seat more passengers than can fit on a standard 40-foot coach, although not necessarily in a comfortable way, but much of the rest of the transit experience is... well, slow.
|594, by Atomic Taco|
With only one door for boarding and alighting, buses are bound to incur schedule delay where large numbers of people are both getting on and off of the bus. On Route 594, it appears that such schedule delay is actually built into the schedule, especially at Tacoma Dome Station, where there is significant dwell time - reducing cost efficiency and hampering connections with other routes not at Tacoma Dome.
Next, while fare payment will be simplified with elimination of the free ride area in September, disembarking at Tacoma Dome Station in the evening sometime feels like it can take forever, with as many as 20-30 passengers pay their fare without ORCA, via cash fares. I recognize that that's kind of a quirk in the South End. Most of ST's passengers coming from Pierce County aren't necessarily working for employers like Microsoft, which pay for ORCA passes for their employees.
Loading and unloading a passenger via the wheelchair "lift" if you can call it that, is also extremely slow, disruptive and LOUD. I have been on several MCI's that have taken roughly 15 minutes total to load and unload a passenger - all the while a shrieking noise from the lift mechanism lets us all know that it exists and is operating. The process also has an unfortunate impact of displacing seated passengers that then must stand the rest of the way to Seattle.
The vehicles have very little maneuverability in cramped urban environments like Commerce St in Downtown Tacoma. I know that I wouldn't want to be on one in the snow.
I find the idea of replacing MCI's with double-deckers intriguing, as long as routing could be found that is compatible with the height of the vehicles. Tacoma Link's overhead catenary might be an issue for such vehicles on most routes in Pierce County, as may several overpasses between Downtown Tacoma and the entrance to I-5 from Portland Avenue. I don't have the height specs on those pieces of infrastructure and whether the 14-foot coaches could clear them.
Such vehicles seat 77 passengers a piece, which is appealing, given the level of demand seen during peak commute hours between Tacoma and Seattle.
Facts About the Double Tall (via Community Transit)
Learn more at Community Transit's webpage on the Double-Talls.
What are your thoughts? How has your experience been on the MCI's? Have you ridden the double-talls in Snohomish County?