Van Galder Bus Co. is starting double-decker bus service Thursday to serve growing demand for travel from Madison to downtown Chicago. The closed-top, two-level bus can carry 81 people, up from the 57-passenger capacity in a regular coach-style bus, spokesperson Amanda Mullin said.
The price for the route, at $27 each way, is the same as it was before, she said.
Thursday's trip to Chicago, departing at 4:30 p.m. from the front of UW-Madison's Memorial Union, will mark the first time the new bus has been used for paying customers. Prior to Thursday, it may have been seen making practice runs around the area designed to ensure that its taller height - at 13 feet, 2 inches - could clear all overpasses, Mullin said.
The double-decker bus will be used for as many as four of the six daily trips the bus company makes to Chicago, Van Galder CEO and president Steve Van Galder said Wednesday, with another double-decker bus being added to the fleet at the end of October.
"Basically we're trying to gear it up so we hit the students," Van Galder said. "At 2:30 in the afternoon, going in (to Chicago) is very heavy, and our 5 p.m. (trip) coming out of Chicago is our busiest one."
For the Chicago route, the bus picks up passengers first in front of Memorial Union and then other passengers about 15 minutes later at the Dutch Mill Park and Ride near the Beltline and Stoughton Road.
The Janesville-based company has been providing professional motorcoach services to customers in the Midwest for more than 62 years. The company has been a subsidiary of Coach USA since 1999. Web site: www.coachusa.com/vangalder.