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A double-decker bus is a bus that has two levels. While double-decker long-distance coaches are in widespread use around the world, double-decker city buses are less common. Double-decker buses are popular in some European cities and in some parts of Asia, usually in former British colonies. Many towns around the world have a few that specialise in short sight-seeing tours for tourists for, as William Gladstone observed, "the way to see London is from the top of a 'bus'"[1]


Cities listed here use double-decker buses as part of their regular mass transit fleet. Cities with only tourist and sightseeing double-decker buses are excluded.

United KingdomEdit

Double-decker buses are in common use throuhout the United Kingdom, typically seating between 60 and 80 passengers. They are between 9.9 and 10.9 metres in length and are a common reference item for describing very large objects; for example, a blue whale is about as long as three double-decker buses. They were created as a means of carrying large numbers of passengers without exceeding legal limits on vehicle length.

A particularly iconic example was the Routemaster bus, which had been a staple of the public transport network in London for nearly half a century following its introduction in 1956. Citing difficulties accommodating disabled passengers, the last remaining examples in use finally retired in 2005, although Transport for London has established two "heritage routes", which will continue using Routemasters (Selected parts of routes 9 & 15) [2].

Colombo, Sri LankaEdit

In the 1950s, double-decker buses of the South Western Bus Company plied on the Galle Road in Colombo, Sri Lanka. These were taken over by the Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) when all bus services were nationalised in 1958. In the 1960s, large numbers of second-hand double decker buses of the RT, RTL and RTW classes were imported by the CTB from London Transport and ran in their original red livery, but with the CTB logo painted on the sides. These buses were phased out beginning in the mid-1970s, but a handful still run in the Greater Colombo area. Later, around 1985, 40 ex-London Routemaster entered service. One Routemaster bus is run by the Sirasa TV and radio station. In 2005 a new batch of double decker buses were imported by the Sri Lanka Transport Board, as the reconstituted CTB is known, which run mainly on the Galle Road in Colombo.

Hong Kong, ChinaEdit

Double-decker buses were first introduced in Hong Kong in 1949 by Kowloon Motor Bus. They have become very popular since then, and they are currently found in large numbers among the fleets of the territory's major bus operators (see below). By law, double-decker buses in Hong Kong are limited to a length of 12 meters. Today, there are more than 4,000 double-decker buses running in Hong Kong.


In October 1953, a single AEC Regent III double-decker from the fleet of General Transport Company, Kuala Lumpur (KL), was sent to Singapore for demonstration. It was used on service by the Singapore Traction Company for two weeks. After that, it was inspected by two other bus companies and then sent back to KL. However, no orders for double-deckers were to ensue at this point in time.

Singapore Bus Service (SBS, now known as SBS Transit), the current operator of double-decker buses in Singapore, launched their first double-decker bus service on 13 June 1977 with 20 Leyland Atlanteans. This time, the double-decker buses were here to stay and the fleet grew steadily, with the further introduction of the Mercedes-Benz O305 and the Leyland Olympian. The first air-conditioned double-decker bus, named the "Superbus" in recognition of its record-breaking 12m length, was launched in 1993. The first stepless, ultra low floor "Superbus" was launched in 1999. Wheelchair accessible buses began to be introduced in 2006. Today, SBS Transit has a fleet of over 700 double-decker buses, most of which are air-conditioned.

Victoria, CanadaEdit

In 2000, Victoria, in British Columbia became the first city in North America to use double decker buses in its public transit system. Imported from the United Kingdom and operated by BC Transit and the Victoria Regional Transit System, these buses have proven to be very popular amongst both locals and tourists. The buses are mainly used on routes that go from downtown to the suburbs, including the Victoria International Airport and the BC Ferries terminal near Sidney, B.C. They can also be found on routes that head to the University of Victoria and the Western Communities. In June/July 2006, double-decker bus similar to those in Victoria was being tested in Ottawa, Ontario.


Operators of double decker busesEdit

Further readingEdit


  1. Elbert Hubbard Little Journeys to the Homes of Good Men and Great (1894–1918) William E. Gladstone The full quote is:
    Then he asked if we were going to London. On being told that we were, he spoke for five minutes about the things we should see in the Metropolis. His style was not conversational, but after the manner of a man who was much used to speaking in public or to receiving delegations. The sentences were stately, the voice rather loud and declamatory. His closing words were: "Yes, gentlemen, the way to see London is from the top of a 'bus—from the top of a 'bus, gentlemen."
  2. Routemaster "heritage routes"
  3. Berlin's Double-Deckers to Get Hydrogen Infusion
Articulated busDouble-decker busGuided busGyrobusLow-floor busMidibusMinibus
MotorcoachParty busSchool bus - Transit busTrolleybus
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