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Double deckers are typically 14' 4-1/2" or 5" high.
Is this a problem with underpasses in the states ?
I looked at various state websites and there are height resitrcitions of between 13' 6" and 14' 6"
What are peoples experiences ?
__. Yes, that "standard" UK double-decker bus is too tall for practical use in the US (at least in the east). Virtually all the road-building structures in the UK are built to allow the standard double-decker to pass but railway bridges (underpasses) do not seem to be built with the same height allowances. In some places, it's impossible to run any bus because the rail underpasses are too low; but there are some places where the clearances are between 13' 6" and up. For these routes, the bus manufacturers made a "low bridge" model with a total height of 13'6"/13' 9". I've been told that all "London Transport" London buses are the higher height (their routes don't need any buses to the lower spec).
__. I found it difficult to find one of these low bridge buses but I've since been told by some bus enthusiasts in the UK that they're reasonably common. YMMV, I guess.
The British loading gauge is 16 feet, so unless a bridge is marked a standard height double-decker will always go under, as will the tallest truck.
The main problem here in Britain is with older railway and canal bridges which pre-date the 16 ft rule, and with rural areas which are heavily wooded. Many operators in rural areas standardised on lowbridge buses to minimise tree-lopping, which was traditionally the operator's responsibility.
Incidentally it isn't true that London had no lowbridge buses -there was a small class of RLH class AEC Regents specifically allocated to tricky routes.
My Bristol Lodekka FSF is only 13 ft 3½ inches high and I have been watching brige hights here in Pa and where ever I'm traveling , seems that are a few bridges I will not fit under so I have a Truckers atlas that has all the low bridges marked in the routes I would be taking so I can work around them in most cases if not I would do some back tracking. to get to a place to cross the river or RR tracks .
Most brigdes are marked all Highway bridges unless marked other wise are at least 13 ft 6" here in Pa . Tight fit . But from what I understand from the truckers they are always under marked to give a few extra inches of clearance , But I'll by what the signs say.
__. There are two problems; 1) practical, and 2) "administrative"
1) For the 35 or so eastern states with a 13'6" height restriction, there are frequently obstructions in the 13' 10" to 14' range. I'm not sure about the frequency of obstructions in the range from 14' and up because they're generally not marked (there are usually warning markers for the obstructions between 13' 6" and 14' -- I'm guessing this is for large vehicles that may have snow, etc on them or may be being towed after a breakdown with the front wheels off the ground). In my experience, you'd be in trouble with any vehicle significantly over 13' 6" in the eastern states. I'm not sure how much extra clearance would be available in the western states (15 or so) that have the 14' limit -- I haven't driven my bus there yet.
__. Of course, the problem is that it doesn't help how many you clear if you only fail to clear one.
2) The "administrative" problem comes as the vertical height restrictions are legal limits. It's OK to drive a larger vehicle, but you must obtain state permits, submit trip plans for each trip, show that there are no obstructions for your trip, etc. You also may be required to placard the vehicle as oversized and have an escort vehicle with flashing yellow lights. If you drive a vehicle without complying with these requirements, you're breaking the law. You might get a ticket if you're stopped and measured but the bigger worry is if you hit an obstruction (say the road has been resurfaced and there's less clearance than the sign says) -- in this case, you'd be charged by the state for damage to the bridge structure and you'd get also get citation, have to go to court, etc.
__. For at least the eastern 35 states, I don't see any reasonable alternative to buying a "low-height" bus that meets the 13'6" restriction.
Bruce Henderson, Wallace NC USA
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with this in mind I have to just say you have to sit at your computer lay out the routes your going to take and read the truckers Atlas I have a Rand McNally version of this and it shows the Low Bridge hights not all bridge hights just the low ones, When Planning my Trip this past summer to go and help in Miss. I found most of the back road bridges are fine but there were a few that I would have to work my way around being that the route I chose was Rt. 11 which I can pick up about 30 miles from here and is about 5 miles from my friends house in Miss. I had no problems with the planning anyway we will see what the actual route is like once my bus is back to being road worthy , Still having Clutch problems .
When buying a bus here in the states you have to keep in mind the area where you live and how many low bridges there are if you plan on driving the bus around. I have two local bridges, one 11ft 3" and one 13 ft 1" Bothraods have been resurfaced this past summer, I asked the repavers what they do under bridges they say the scarf out the old pavement deep enough not to change the bridge hight after repaving. OK that what they said but when I went with a friend to check the hight after paving it was not quite what it should be. So I would steer clear of anything not marked or too close for comfort . I will have problems with but my big problem is tree branches. I figure I can go where the 18 wheelers can go with a big caution on those pesky tree limbs that bend out of the way of a Truck that does not really care about it's paint work. My Biggest problem around here will be the hills, or mountain roads I live at the bottom of the steepest hill in the County. it's the only hill around here that has one of those steep hill signs with a truck sitting on an angle. This is going to be fun .
I was told by our AL State Law Enforcement that no vehicles over 13'6" are legal to operate on highways in the US. That doesn't mean that DD buses can't be moved or operate in a commercial area, just not the public roads...legally. I noticed all the "Open Top" DD Buses in the US, did you know that many did not start out as open top DD Buses? These poor saps imported a 14'9"bus or whatever height over 13ft6in and realized they couldnt get a DOT certification or even get licensed to operate on the road. One guy buys it in another state, gets lucky and the state gives him a title because they don't know its too tall. Gotta watch out for those guys! You might learn something you don't want to know when you get ready to sell your bus. The "Open Top" solution means that they have to saw the head off the bus to make it road legal. They market it to cities where tourism is high and weather is fair, Vegas, LA, etc. Buyer beware...you want to be in a Lodekka or SL model. SL stands for Short/Low
That's not entirely true. You can apply for a oversize permit and state the routes you wish to operate.
The Davis Unitrans buses out in California are all highbridge specification RT's which are 14' 4", and run in daily service.
They have just ordered a couple of new Dennis /Alexander full height buses into from UK. One of which can be seen in the photo below.
Thats good to know, I was told that DOT wouldn't certify anything over 13.5ft. The open top thing is pretty close to accurate though, Bristol/Leyland didnt produce an open top bus that I know of. They have this strange front glass still in place but its cut out to block some of the wind for upstairs passengers. I just wonder where all the water goes?
That's not entirely true. You can apply for an oversize permit and state the routes that you wish to operate. Permits are issued by the state DOT.
An example of a regular service operating full height buses (RT's and an RTL at 14'4") would be Unitrans out in Davis California. They have just bought some brand new Alexander bodied highbridge spec deckers in this last year.
Sorry to be picky, but quite a lot of Leylands and Bristols were built as open-toppers for use in holiday resorts. There were Leyland Titans, Bristol Lodekkas and VRTs, and even some prewar vehicles, but they were usually built as convertibles with waterproof upper-deck seats. In Spring the whole roof and upper deck windows were lifted off as a unit, and replaced by a Perspex windscreen and bolt-on perimeter handrails, usually for seafront services. At the end of the summer the roof was replaced and the vehicles returned to ordinary service.