… dual door buses? Once de rigueur in just about any significant urban environment, whether saloons or double decks, they’re just about extinct these days. In the provinces, anyway. There are a number of reasons why this should be:
- Unions refused the necessary 1960s conversion to urban OMO (sic) unless dual doors were specified. This no longer applies
- Traffic isn’t always quite what it was in the 1960s and operators can manage with but one service door
- A second door adds to purchases and maintenance costs and reduces even further seating on modern DDA-compliant vehicles
- There have been safety concerns about a remote door (partly overcome by interlocks, these days)
- They require longer stretches of accessible kerbing at bus stops, not that operators necessarily care
But it appears that Bristol is set to see a return of the bread, if an announcement by the West of England local enterprise partnership is to be believed. It’s going for dual door single decks for its planned Metro Bus rapid transit system. It could’ve taken double decks or even artics but it considered the higher frequency of a single deck service would be more beneficial in attracting growth. Passenger security on a single deck and better access to a higher number of seats were also features in the decision.
Oh, and reduced “dwell times” associated with single decks. Ugh. That’s an awful expression that’s creeping in.
If I understand it rightly, buses will work a combination of priority and ordinary roads. Older readers will recall that from about 1967 Bristol Joint Services went all-out for dual door saloons with the eventual purchase of several hundred Bristol RELL6Ls and significant numbers of Leyland Nationals. I do believe that they even cancelled an early order for dual door double decks in favour of REs.
Back then, the REs replaced double decks. You saw a straight swap from 58 to 70 seat deckers (or something like) to OMO (sic) 44-seat REs—*without* any increase in frequency. Little wonder the trick that was supposed to revitalise city services by halving crew costs never truly paid off—as people fed up with passing full buses and with standing deserted the service.
I even recall the very first of Bristol’s 44-seaters were delivered with 53 seats but were converted before the union would countenance their use (unless you know differently). As it happens, 53 seats and a single door wasn’t that far off the capacity of the KSWs still in Bristol service or the LDs of the time.
At least the current partnership has considered things fully when going for single deck dual door vehicles. One wonders, as belt tightening becomes something of a national sport, whether there might be a volte-face when there’s less money for the additional operating costs.
I can’t make references to dual door saloons of the 1960s and 1970s without an honourable mention of Hants & Dorset. H&D followed that particular fashion slavishly. Here was a truly eclectic collection of dual door saloons aimed at operating more urban services. Alongside standard dual door RELLs and Nationals you could find dual door LHs and both Strachan- and Willowbrook-bodied Bedford VAMs. Not that there was always consistency on any particular route. Its post-1972 Provincial subsidiary was to be all but 100 per cent dual door by the end of the 1970s.