double-decker bus

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New Routemaster of Arriva on the line 38 in London
MAN Lion's City operated by Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) at the Hertzallee stop
A Stockbus the Vienna lines on the bus line 61 A at the stop Karlsplatz , October 1979

As a double-decker bus (even double-decker bus , double-decker , double-decker bus , double-decker or in Austria Stock Omnibus , floor bus or Stockbus ) one is bus or trolley bus called, which has two floors for passenger transport. If the upper deck is open, one speaks of a deck seat car . Buses that are not double-deckers are called monoplane or low- decker .


Daimler deck seat car, 1907
Double-decker bus at the Brandenburg Gate , May 1949

Double-decker buses emerged from the need to create more passenger capacity when space was already tight, especially in large cities. Therefore, for many decades, they were mainly used for local public transport in metropolises such as London , Berlin , Hamburg and Vienna . The models of the first double-decker motor buses, which appeared at the beginning of the 20th century, were the horse-drawn buses , which had long been double-decker in the big cities. The upper level of these so-called deck seat cars could be reached by stairs at the stern. A distinction is made between designs with longitudinal seats on the upper deck, among which there is space to increase the standing height of the lower deck, and those with transverse seats that are simply mounted on the roof of the lower deck. The upper deck initially had no roof and was therefore not protected from the weather. It was not until the 1920s, after the introduction of the low-frame construction and the associated reduction in the floor height of both decks, that completely enclosed and glazed bodies became the rule on double-decker buses. Since the 1960s, double-deck buses have been increasingly used for city ​​tours ; Double-deckers are also increasingly being used in travel.

Double-deck superstructures used to be mostly made by specialized bodybuilders. For example, the double-deckers intended for Berlin's regular service are built by companies such as Gaubschat , Orenstein & Koppel or Waggon Union . In the GDR , the biplane of the type were in the 1950s Do 54 and Do 56 in the state-owned enterprise of railroad cars Bautzen established. They were used in East Berlin , Leipzig , Rostock and a few other cities in the GDR. A car was given away to Moscow .


In Germany, city-line double-deckers are mainly based on their monoplane counterparts in low-floor construction, which have reinforced shock absorbers and anti-roll bars to prevent lateral roll for the greater structural height (the permissible total weight remains unchanged with the same number of axles). In order to increase passenger capacity and to be able to handle modern technical requirements such as air conditioning and exhaust gas aftertreatment systems in terms of weight, vehicles with a length of only 12 m are now equipped with three axles, the last of which, the trailing axle, has single tires and friction - or is actively steered.

Constructions from other countries such as Great Britain, Spain, Portugal or Poland are mostly based on low-floor chassis from large bus manufacturers (e.g. Evobus , MAN Nutzfahrzeuge , Volvo , Scania ), on which double-decker bodies are then built.

Double-decker buses in self-supporting construction have always offered the advantage of a certain degree of accessibility due to the low entrances and largely level, stepless passages in the lower deck . With the advent of low-floor buses, double-decker buses were also given stepless or podium-free parking spaces for wheelchairs or prams. In addition, these vehicles were equipped with entry aids such as lifts or ramps. In tourist traffic, on the other hand, the passenger seats in the lower deck are also arranged on platforms, despite stepless entry, and the vehicles are usually fully seated so that wheelchairs cannot be transported. In some double-decker coaches that have been converted into long-distance buses, such as the ÖBB Intercity bus, there are niches that can be driven into the area of ​​the rear door (wider than the series) for a wheelchair space, so that these buses enable barrier-free travel.

Due to the use of lightweight materials and shorter lengths (around 10.6 m), the London double-deckers are still built with two axles, while intercity vehicles and buses in other British cities often also have three axles, but then with a single-tire and often non-steered leading axle in front of the Drive axle are equipped.

According to the StVZO , buses in Germany can be 2.55 m wide, 4.00 m high and 13.50 m (two-axle), 15.00 m (multi-axle) or 18.75 m (articulated bus) long. Double-decker city buses sometimes exceed the height with a special permit, so the double-decker buses in Berlin city traffic are up to 4.12 m high (type DN, MAN ND 202 ) and can only be used on routes that have the necessary clearance everywhere . Up to 15 feet (4.57 m) is allowed in the UK.

Double-deck coaches are completely independent in terms of design. They are produced by the large manufacturers Neoman and Evobus in a fully self-supporting design or, by smaller producers, partially self-supporting with integrated subframes, which are obtained from large bus manufacturers (e.g. Evobus, MAN, Volvo, Scania) and equipped with a double-deck structure. Three axes have been state of the art here for many years due to their high dead weight . At the beginning of the 1990s, the Auwärter-Neoplan company equipped 15 m long double-deck travel and overland vehicles with two front and two rear axles, all of which were steered. However, technical problems and the high technical effort have meant that only a very small number of such cars were built.

Since January 1, 2005, according to the EU standard, new double-decker buses, if there are more than 50 seats on the upper deck, have to be equipped with two stairs between the lower and upper deck, one of which is on the left or right above the front axle and the the second is arranged in the middle of the vehicle or in the rear (city buses only).

Public buses

Local transport

AEC Routemaster double-decker London bus
Double-decker express bus for the line S90 Münster - Senden - Lüdinghausen at the main station in Münster

In Berlin and London , the double-decker buses typical of these cities are an indispensable part of the streetscape. In England , the double deckers not only run in many cities, but also as regular buses in regional traffic, for example on the south coast. The famous London double-decker Routemaster bus was the last city bus still in use in the classic form with an engine at the front and an open rear entrance with a staircase there. Above all, the lack of accessibility led to the replacement by modern low-floor double-deckers and articulated buses by 2005 . There are also many double-deckers in the former British colonies in Asia - for example in Hong Kong (90 percent), in Bombay and Singapore (around 50 percent). The green double-decker buses in Dublin also shape the cityscape .

After the bus trailer ban in the Federal Republic of Germany, which came into force in 1960 , so-called one- and -a- half - decker vehicles , in which only the rear area was double-decked , began to appear in some companies . However, this design decreased again with the spread of today's articulated buses and finally disappeared from the market in the 1970s.

The German areas of application for line double-deckers are primarily Berlin , where they first sailed, and Aalen . In Aalen, buses of the Neoplan type Aalen are in use, which were considered the largest public service buses in Europe when they were introduced.

In Lübeck, the era of double deck buses ended on December 30, 2007 after a good 62 years. The double-decker liner service with the Lübeck-Travemünder Verkehrsgesellschaft between Lübeck and Travemünde was started on June 1, 1945 with three Berlin double-decker buses that ended up in Lübeck during the war. Two of them were burned out, one was still equipped with a machine gun fire stand on the upper floor. Recently converted Setra coaches were used, but they were 11 years old and had already driven a million kilometers. The supply of spare parts for these buses had become too expensive, and the clearance height of the Lübeck Castle Gate , which the buses pass through, was limited to 3.80 meters. That is why normal articulated buses have been serving the route from Lübeck to Travemünde since December 31, 2007.

Double-decker buses ran in Waiblingen until 2000.

Since 2004 biplane ride well in the Westphalian Münsterland , the RVM sets the Setra S431 DT on the SchnellBus -lines S90 Munster - Send - Lüdinghausen and S71 Munster - Horstmar - Vreden one. Double-decker buses also run on the S75 Münster - Borken - Bocholt line.

From 1993 to 2004, the Chemnitzer Verkehrs-Aktiengesellschaft used up to seven four-axle double-decker buses (five of its own buses and two rental vehicles) of the specially developed Neoplan Megashuttle (four-axle, 15 m long). In Lübeck (LVG) these vehicles were also used at times.

The Kahlgrund traffic GmbH (KVG) uses two double-decker buses in the school transport because the narrow streets in Kahlgrund for articulated buses are not suitable.

There used to be double-decker buses in Hamburg , Frankfurt am Main , Offenbach am Main , Mönchengladbach , Aachen and Vienna .

In Copenhagen were from 2001 to 2012 double-decker buses on the lines 250S (2001-2012) 10 (2001-2003), 72E (2002-2003) 15 (2003-2007), 650S (2003-2004), 65E (2004- 2012) and 66 (2011–2012) used. The era ended on the 250S line on October 21, 2012, the double-deckers were replaced by 13.7 m buses.

The use of Saviem double-deckers at the RATP in Paris was limited to the late 1960s to the mid-1970s.

In Switzerland, double-deck buses are mainly used on the PostBus lines in St. Gallen , as well as on the lines in Toggenburg , over the Grimsel Pass , on Lake Lucerne and in Val Terbi in the Jura . Such buses can also be found in regional traffic in Lausanne , Chur and the Maggia Valley .

From June 29, 2012 to August 2, 2012, the Berlin double-decker bus number 3543 was in use on route 30 / 30E between Nuremberg- Thon and Erlangen , Hugenottenplatz. Due to the large number of seats that an articulated bus cannot offer, VAG Verkehrs-Aktiengesellschaft Nürnberg tested this vehicle type.

In Frankfurt am Main between December 2015 and February 2016, tests were carried out on regular bus routes (line 34, MAN ND 202; line 30, MAN Lion's City DD A39) to determine whether double-decker buses to increase capacity could be used again in the future (as was the case from 1967 to 1976) are to be used on certain lines in Frankfurt on which the use of articulated buses is not possible due to their length.

Setra S 431 DT double-decker buses have been in service on the Darmstadt - Frankfurt Airport (AIRLINER) connection since 2015 .

A major disadvantage of double-decker buses in city traffic is the unequal distribution of passengers between the two levels. In Vienna, for example, the upper floor was rarely used in the past because many passengers feared they would not get to the door of their destination in time.

Long-distance transport

Setra S431DT double-decker touring coach in regular service as an Austrian post bus

Since the liberalization of long-distance bus services in Germany in 2013, some operators have also been using double-decker coaches on selected routes. Before that, however, double-deckers were already used in Berlin traffic by the companies based there.

In Austria , double-decker buses are mainly used on the routes between Vienna and Burgenland operated by the Viennese company group Dr. Richard , used on the line between Litschau (Upper Waldviertel ) and Vienna of the Frank Reisen company from Heidenreichstein and on some lines of the Wieselbus line network in Lower Austria . ÖBB-Postbus uses double-decker coaches (Setra S431DT) on some of the regional routes in Styria, which are in high demand, as well as intercity buses at rail tariffs.

Since June 2011, the line 676 operated by Nobina on behalf of Storstockholms Lokaltrafik from Stockholm to Norrtälje, 83 kilometers away, has been converted from articulated buses to double-decker buses. This means that the double-decker bus has returned to Stockholm after around 35 years. The buses were made by the Dutch manufacturer VDL Berkhof .

Sightseeing and advertising buses

City tour in a historic double-decker bus, which was formerly used in the regular service of the Berlin transport company, here in Rostock at the Nikolaikirche

In many large cities around the world, double-deck buses, some with an open upper deck, are now used as sightseeing tour buses. In Germany, double-deckers (mostly Berlin) that have left regular service are often used for this purpose. If no exception rules apply, due to the environmental zones in many large cities, these vehicles now have to comply with the emissions standards there , which they would no longer meet with the original engine . Sightseeing buses that can no longer be retrofitted with a particle filter are re-powered with new engines - some from other manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz or DAF - which then comply with the required Euro standard.

Some bus manufacturers also offer such sightseeing vehicles ex works. As early as the 1960s, Auwärter-Neoplan offered a double-decker with panoramic glazing and so-called “herringbone seating” under the name “Do-Lux Hamburg”, in which two continuous rows of seats in the middle of the car were arranged along the direction of travel and oriented diagonally towards the passenger windows . Later coaches from the Skyliner series were used, some with floor-to-ceiling glazing on the upper deck, but lacking comfort facilities such as a toilet or on-board kitchen; The seating was also simplified compared to a long-distance coach and designed for high transport capacity.

After being taken out of service in their original operations, the regular line double-deckers are also available as used vehicles in other regions due to their eye-catching shape, often also as advertising vehicles, for rent as party cars or sometimes as pure school buses . In Germany, for example, you can even find old English double-deckers as advertising cars, mostly Bristol Lodekka vehicles that were often used in overland transport. In contrast to the AEC Routemaster used in London, these do not exceed the maximum vehicle height permitted in Germany.


Double-decker coach type Neoplan Skyliner from the 1980s
Four-axle Neoplan Megaliner with right-hand drive from the JR subsidiary JR BUS Kanto

Double-decker buses intended for travel are usually equipped with high comfort features such as a cloakroom, toilet or on-board kitchen. They offer space for around 70 travelers. The passengers on the upper deck have the advantage of a better overview of what is happening on the street - however, there are higher safety requirements compared to single-story buses. Double-decker coaches are also used for long-distance bus routes.

Vehicle lengths of 13-14 meters have now become established for double-deckers, and until a few years ago they used the maximum dimensions of 12 m in length, 4 m in height and 2.5 m in width that had been legal until then. In Germany, only the bus manufacturers Setra with the S 531 DT and Neoplan with the Skyliner series produce double-decker coaches in small numbers. For a while, Neoplan produced the four-axle 15-m double-decker named “ N128 / 4 Megaliner ”, which offered 107 seats with the greatest density of seats. Nevertheless, these vehicles - like the double-decker articulated bus " N138 / 4 Jumbocruiser " from the same company, remained rather a marginal phenomenon, as many countries either tied the entry of long vehicles to expensive permits or refused them altogether.

Since, however, despite the growth in German long-distance bus transport, the demand for bus travel (especially excursions and holiday travel) has generally declined in recent decades, bus operators are forced to purchase vehicles as cheaply as possible or to extend their procurement cycles. Simpler high-decker models, including those made abroad, are increasingly being used. Last but not least, the market share of double-decker touring vehicles also fell due to the production of extra-long buses (13–15 m), which, as high-deckers, offer almost the same seating capacity with significantly more space (especially in the trunk). A disadvantage of double-deckers is the low headroom and standing height on both floors and the extremely small trunk in terms of seating, which is located on the rear axles for reasons of space and which may be reduced by a fold-out driver's bunk or water tanks for the toilet and galley . However, it is possible to increase the capacity by means of folding seats in the interior or a luggage rack at the rear (also known as a “rucksack” among drivers).

Until a few decades ago, double-decker buses were also used as a "means of mass transport" according to their intended purpose and the company often chose the highest possible seating capacity (approx. 80 seats with an existing toilet), but today, for reasons of comfort, the seat spacing is also generous for reasons of classification design and use the available space for travel comfort, in which, for example, the lower deck houses a lounge or a café bar. Many manufacturers also offer such devices at the factory.

Articulated buses

The fourth jumbo cruiser (1976)
The last jumbo cruiser built, the exterior of which was subsequently adapted to the design of current Neoplan double-decker buses during a restoration

Occasionally, double-decker articulated buses were also built, such as the aforementioned Neoplan jumbo cruiser . In total, there were eleven examples of the Neoplan N138 / 4 jumbo cruiser and two comparable vehicles as prototypes from Berkhof (Berkhof 2000HDA excellence). These 13 vehicles were the only double-decker articulated buses in the world. A special structural feature of double-decker articulated buses is the transition from the front end to the rear end on the upper deck. Structurally, it is not possible to connect two decks and achieve sufficient horizontal bending angles.

The Neoplan Jumbocruiser is therefore also the largest street-legal bus in the world, as it does not require special permits and fully utilizes the maximum dimensions of the StVO at the time.

The success of the travel jumbos was denied mainly because of the high purchase price. A jumbo cruiser always cost about two and a half times as much as its smaller brother the Skyliner, which made it an absolute prestige vehicle in a fleet. In addition, France restricted the passage of the giant buses in the 1980s. At the time, these vehicles were mostly traveling non-stop with two or three drivers from Germany to Spain or Greece.

In many parts of the world, however, there were articulated travel trains in the form of high-deckers and super-high-deckers.


Museum-preserved London trolleybus

Articulated buses

In 1952 at the Leipzig Autumn Fair presented double-decker trailer bus was in 1953 in East Berlin in use

In East Berlin in the 1950s and 1960s reversed eight truck buses with double-trailer. They were designated as type DoSa for "double - decker semi-trailers ".

Three-decker buses

A few years ago, old Leyland PD2 / 12 biplanes were converted into at least two triplane in Great Britain . The two purple vehicles look the same from the outside. They were u. a. used as the knight errant in the movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban . However, they are not intended for use in public transport.

As early as 1926, a three-decker bus could be admired as a photo in the company newspaper Echo Continental of Continental Gummiwerke Hannover AG, but as an April Fool's joke. Three-decker buses are also a recurring motif in Gerhard Seyfried's Berlin cartoons .

Battery bus

An electrically powered double-decker bus was presented for the first time in autumn 2015 . The 10.2 meter long vehicle from the Chinese manufacturer BYD based on the BYD ebus has a capacity of 54 seats and standing room for 27 people. The first buses have been in service with the London public transport company Transport for London since March 16, 2016 .


The Smiths sang the following macabre lines in their song There Is a Light That Never Goes Out :

And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die
(German: And if a double-decker bus
Drives into us;
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die.)


  • Christian Stake: Berlin buses - the double-decker MAN DN 95 . (= Stadtverkehr-Bildarchiv, Volume 5). EK-Verlag, Freiburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-8446-6752-3 .

Web links

Commons : Double Decker Buses  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  2. StVZO § 32 Dimensions of vehicles and vehicle combinations
  3. Country sheet of the WKO. Retrieved January 25, 2019 .
  4. History of OVA-Omnibus-Verkehr Aalen, accessed on January 3, 2008.
  5. four-axle Megashuttle Chemnitz
  6. Double-decker bus in the test ( memento of the original from May 25, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Accessed July 22, 2012)  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. City Councilor Majer: "We aim high for our passengers" - double-decker bus in test use. traffiQ, December 11, 2015, archived from the original on December 26, 2015 ; accessed on December 27, 2015 .
  8. project Tram Rider Frankfurt Archive Foundation (FAG): The MAN ND 202 in the test application. Tramrider, 2015, accessed December 27, 2015 .
  9. Another double-decker in Frankfurt on a trial basis. traffiQ, February 1, 2016, archived from the original on February 14, 2016 ; accessed on February 14, 2016 .
  10. project Tram Rider Frankfurt Archive Foundation (FAG): The Frankfurt biplane. Tramrider, 2013, accessed December 27, 2015 .
  11. Wiener Linien ABC Part 1: From Americans to funeral trams on, accessed on March 3, 2019
  12. NÖVOG: New double-decker buses for the Wieselbus routes (accessed on July 22, 2012)
  13. ^ Nobina: New double-decker buses for Stockholm ( Memento from November 26, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (Accessed July 22, 2012)
  14. Auwärter / Neoplan Photo Archive , accessed on August 24, 2014
  16. Cartoon with a three-decker bus accessed May 3, 2020
  17. BYD puts electric double deckers on to the streets of London Renewable Energy Magazine, March 23, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016.