robertisenberg

Strange Conveyances: 2

In Pittsburgh on July 23, 2009 at 12:00 am

Random Pittsburgh 006

It’s not every day you turn a corner and see a fire-engine red, London-style, double-decker autobus parked on a Pittsburgh street. As I circled the bus, trying to discern its origins, a tour guide stepped out and chatted with me about the Pittsburgh Tour Company. For $20 (and no reservation), tourists can jump onto the bus and ride through the South Side, Downtown, the North Side, and then back again. The whole ride takes about one hour and 15 minutes, although passengers can jump out in any neighborhood.

“Are you the driver?” I asked the tour guide.

She shook her head defiantly. “Oh, no. I’m just the tour guide.” And as she said this, I realized what a harrowing experience driving a double-decker bus must be.

There’s only one bus (allegedly named Martha), and only two owners: Vince and Manon LaMonica, who drove to Eastern Canada to rendez-vous with the bus, and then spent two days driving their conspicuous transport back to Pittsburgh.

As the tour guide handed me a brochure, I remembered the Segway tours in Station Square and Green Gears Pedicabs, the bicycle rickshaws that have become mainstays of the South Side experience. Getting around Pittsburgh has always been challenging, so it’s no wonder that the vehicles themselves have become clever gimmicks. But unlike the Segways and cyclos, the Pittsburgh Tour Company may stay lucrative in winter — unless there’s a spike in diesel prices.

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