• Double-decker buses are in widespread use around the world—mostly for long-distances, and for sightseeing in places like Hollywood and Las Vegas—yet double-decker city buses are less common. Double-decker buses are popular in some cities of Europe, such as Berlin, and in parts of Asia, usually in former British colonies (including Hong Kong and Singapore).
  • The red double-decker buses in London have become a national symbol of Britain, and the majority of buses in London (as well as in the Republic of Ireland and the city of Hong Kong) are double-deckers.
  • The Bristol Lodekka was built by Bristol Commercial Vehicles from 1949 to 1968. It has a traditional half-cab design, with a lower floor level and a lower overall height, allowing for easy transport (e.g., under covered bridges in the country). Most Lodekkas were powered by 5- or 6-cylinder Gardner engines. The Bristol Lodekka was also manufactured by Dennis under licence, and was sold as the Dennis Loline. The Lodekka’s succesor was the Bristol VRT. An early Lodekka—fleet number DX1, operated by West Yorshire Road Car Company—is said to have been displayed at the Festival of Britain (South Bank Exhibition) in 1951.
  • The first cities in North America to use modern double-decker buses in their public transit systems were Victoria and Kelowna, British Columbia, in 2000. These buses were imported from the U.K. and were immediately popular with both locals and tourists. Since then, double-decker buses have been put into limited use or tested elsewhere in Canada, including Ottawa, Toronto, and between Edmonton and Strathcona County in Alberta.
  • Commercial buses—drawn by horses and originally called “Omnibuses”—were first widely introduced in the 1820s in England and France (with a few previous unsuccessful attempts briefly recorded in France as early as 1662).
  • Experiments with steam-powered buses were made in Britain as early as the 1820s, and in 1882, Siemens presented an electrically powered trolley bus in Berlin. The bus, as a means of passenger transport, had been preceded by railways, streetcars and taxis.
  • The first double-decker Omnibus was manufactured in 1847 in the U.K. It was horse drawn (typically by three horses) with an open upper deck that did not have a roof. The upper deck was half the price of the lower, covered deck. The upper deck was not initially popular. Early double-decker buses had advertising on their sides.
  • Daimler AG (formerly DaimlerChrysler, 1998–2007; Daimler sold off Chrysler in 2007) produced the world’s first motorized double-decker bus in Germany in 1898, with a 12 hp (8.8 kW) engine.
    The vehicle reached a top speed of 12 mph (18 km/h). In a newspaper report, the bus’s maiden journey in England from the small harbor of Gravesend to the City of London on April 23 was described as follows: “Every man, every woman and every child in Long Acre and along Piccadilly stopped and stared at the vehicle as it thundered past…. One must have seen the three-tonner, working its way through dense traffic at that speed, with one’s own eyes to gain an impression of what it was like, but this impression is as intense as the circumstances are astounding.”
  • In 1941, Miss Phyllis Thompson became the first woman licensed to drive a double-deck vehicle in England.
  • London introduced a new double-decker bus in 2012. Designed jointly by Aston Martin and architects Foster + Partners—with a very modern look, yet with retro touches inspired by the London Routemaster—the bus is fully handicap accessible and uses the latest green technology, including solar panels. The new design is 15 per cent more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses, and 40 per cent more efficient than conventional diesel double deckers. Each costs around £300,000 ($492,000 U.S.).
  • Many retired double-decker buses have been converted to mobile holiday homes and campers, or to cafés, both static (often as a tourist attraction) or mobile (e.g., as catering buses for film crews). One ex-London (U.K.) Routemaster bus has been converted to a mobile theatre and for catwalk fashion shows. Others are, unfortunately, destroyed at demolition derbys or in “banger races.”
  • A blue whale is about as long as three double-decker buses.
Want to know more about the history of double deckers?

Birdie’s Perch Double-Decker & Transport Links