Of the considerable number of interesting comments yesterday on “Feet”, here are just two:
“Wouldn’t it be truly wonderful if bus companies insisted on having more legroom and more comfortable seats on their new buses”and
“It’s my view that most buses don’t have enough legroom for those of us with longer legs than usual”I have some sympathy with people who want more legroom. Seat pitches are often a constraint, especially for taller people. Men are (apparently) getting taller, thanks to better diets when younger. But a more generous seat pitch equates to fewer seats on a bus, which could lead to standing passengers at peak times. I reckon I know what the average commuter would prefer (except, they’d probably prefer the best of both worlds).
Leyland National usually configured to 52 and the Bristol RELL to either 50 or 53. On this basis, a step entrance 40-footer, were one available, would seat nearly 60). Even step entrance midibuses got close to the current capacity of a modern super low floor 40-footer. So, by being more generous still with seating, you lose a row of two double seats, reducing seating capacity to something like 36, far less less even than those *30*-footer of yore (usually accommodating 43-45).
I admire those operators who, through choice and commercial decisions, are able to reduce their capacity to make their vehicles more attractive. Wilts & Dorset springs to mind with its 2+1 seating, though this isn’t specifically to do with seat pitch but to create both a welcoming ambiance within and offer individual seating. It works, though it has detractors, those who feel that seating is now too far back from the entrance. But not that many urban operators have the ability to reduce their vehicle capacities, as it comes at a cost of more vehicles required, more standing, or both. Ditto on rural services, where peaks are accentuated by the need to maximise the school load.
The solution, of course, is to upgrade to double decks. Here, an operator might be more lavish with seat pitches. Witness the generosity of Arriva Cymru’s 66-seater Gemini 2s that ply out of Chester [memo to self: remember to ask Northern Correspondent to have a go on them]. Presumably, here, single decks were overloading, while there was no requirement for a full 74-80 seater.
But double decks come with penalties. They cost more in cap ex (though the cost per seat can be cheaper—assuming that there are standard seating capacities!). They drink more fuel. They can more easily be battered by tree boughs. They have a higher engineering overhead. And they’re not always popular, where passengers might prefer to stay on the ground floor: this as a result of anti-social behaviour up top or the plain fact that increasingly passengers are getting older and cannot always climb the stairs.
But even double decks can have standard seat pitches to ensure they operate as economically as possible. It’s all a bit of a dilemma. But there’s one other reason why double decks might be a bad move these days and this will need to await another occasion. Meanwhile, operators will have to continue to trade off more legroom against the cost of more vehicles, or expensive expensive ones, or more standing.
Photo: Omnibuses’ Northern Correspondent at Coventry (anyone know on which bus?)