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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Metro proposes process for evaluating future replacement of current electric trolley fleet

Summary

Metro Transit's proposed process for evaluation of future replacements for its aging electric trolley fleet will focus on the latest technologies for both electric trolleys and diesel-electric hybrid buses, under a plan sent to the King County Council today by County Executive Dow Constantine.

Story

Metro Transit's proposed process for evaluation of future replacements for its aging electric trolley fleet will focus on the latest technologies for both electric trolleys and diesel-electric hybrid buses, under a plan sent to the King County Council today by County Executive Dow Constantine.

"Electric trolleys have a lot of fans, and I'm one of them. They're quiet, they run clean, and they're a part of our transit heritage," said Executive Constantine. "However, the responsible thing to do is to study options and new technologies before making such a significant investment."

The Trolley Bus System Evaluation transmitted today calls for a scope, schedule, and work program to evaluate different technologies for replacing Metro's current fleet of electric trolleys. The study will enable Metro to evaluate the most modern systems available to see which best suits the system and operational needs of its 14-route trolley system.The plan was requested by the County Council upon the recommendation of the King County Auditor.

"We want these new vehicles to do a lot for us in the future," said Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond. "They need to be able to climband descend steep hillsday in and day out, operate quietly, have low or no emissions, maneuver around blockages, and improve our operating efficiency. We expect to pursue the best available technology to achieve our aggressive program objectives."

In deciding to compare electric trolleys and diesel-electric hybrids as the alternatives, Metro conducted a preliminary evaluation of several potential propulsion systems, including electric trolley, diesel, diesel-electric hybrid, compressed natural gas, electric battery, and hydrogen fuel cell.

"It's not just a question of how much the new buses will cost to buy. We also need to know how much they cost to operate, how long they will last, and what impact they will have on our environment," said Desmond. "They must also use technology that is affordable and readily available."

King County Metro Transit has a fleet of 159 electric trolley buses that run along nearly 70 miles of overhead wire in Seattle. There were 19.7 million boardings on Metro's trolley routes in 2009 - about one-fifth of Metro's total average weekday ridership. These buses are reaching the end of their useful lives. Under the current schedule Metro will need to order replacement buses before the end of 2012.

The Trolley Bus System Evaluation will continue through the middle of next year. It will include an assessment of the two vehicle technologies in several areas including: cost; network and system considerations; environmental impacts; funding opportunities; and legal issues. Metro will continue its public outreach during the study, and plans additional public meetings as evaluation results become available.

The Executive will send a final recommendation regarding the trolley system to the Council next March, and submit a biennial budget for Metro in September 2011. The proposed schedule calls for signing of a bus procurement contract in 2012 and delivery of about 159 new buses in 2014 and 2015.

Learn more about the Trolley Bus System Evaluation.



King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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