Post navigation

Prev: (05/08/10) | Next: (05/08/10)

Reminder: Metro considering getting rid of electric trolley buses

Capitol Hill activist Ann Donovan reminds us of this important local issue:

I never heard about this until yesterday but evidently Metro is looking at possibly eliminating electric trolley buses as a cost-cutting measure. Many of the trolleys will need to be replaced in the next few years.

In 2003, when Metro switched to using diesel buses on our trolley routes on the weekends, Capitol Hill spoke loudly about retaining our quieter, cleaner, electric trolley buses. When you consider also Seattle’s less expensive hydro-electric power, and the push to move away from oil, this recommended change seems short-sighted and foolish.

Here are some articles and blog posts about this proposal:

http://blog.seattlepi.com/ingreenlake/archives/198923.asp

http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2010/01/15/metro-considers-cutting-electric-trolley-buses-city-wants-your-opinion – note the survey is closed now

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/03/22/the-end-of-electric-trolley-buses

TAKE ACTION

Please take a few minutes to write to the following persons to voice your support for the electric trolleys and disapproval of moving to diesel buses.

Jonathan Dong, Senior Transportation Planner at the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Jonathan.Dong@seattle.gov

Tom Rasmussen, Seattle City Council member  – tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov

Larry Phillips, County Council Member – larry.phillips@kingcounty.gov

 

(More thoughts:

http://www.orphanroad.com/blog/2010/05/its-the-11th-hour-do- )

UPDATE by jseattle: Meanwhile, our friends in the Central District point at today’s timely article in the Seattle Times about the future of the electric trolleys:

Mike Lindblom has a really good story today in the Seattle Times on Metro’s trolley buses and the upcoming decision on whether or not to keep them:

The timing is awkward. Hydrogen vehicles or plug-in electric buses seem promising, but Metro can’t wait until those technologies mature. That leaves other options:

• Order a trolleybus with supplementary batteries charged through overhead power and regenerative braking — so the bus can sometimes detour off-wire.

• Combine overhead power with a supplementary diesel motor, for long or short stretches off-wire.

• Travel wire-free using electric batteries and high-torque motors, to be recharged by a diesel motor running at a steady, fuel-efficient rate. Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond also hopes to research whether there’s a bus available to use overhead power in-city, then continue off-wire several miles farther out.

Or how about option #4: Buy new trolley buses that use existing technology and use them the same way that we have for the 65 previous years?

The Central District has a majority of routes that are electrified, and our informal surveys indicate that the most residents want them to stay that way.

The key question seems to be how fuel prices fit into the equation. What kind of fuel price forecast is Metro using to judge the cost of operating diesel buses in 2016 (and 2020, and 2030) vs. the relatively steady cost of electricity on the trolley routes?

And how much societal value do we gain by paying costs to local workers to maintain the trolley bus wires, vs. sending dollars overseas to pay for fuel?

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

10 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Andrew Taylor
Andrew Taylor
10 years ago

The short term economic benefits from abandoning Metro’s electric trolleys MUST NOT be allowed to over-rule the long-term advantages of electric trolleys: they are the perfect blend of the mobility of buses and the quietness and lack of pollution of electric vehicles.

Abandoning electric trolleys would be a short-sighted economy that we would regret for many years. Most of our electricity is hydro, so they are oil-independent and carbon-neutral.

Thanks

Andrew

joannaq
joannaq
10 years ago

Since Larry Gossett prioritizes transit issues on his Council website and held his only meeting relating to transportation in the North End, he really should hear from all.
http://www.kingcounty.gov/gossett.aspx

Regional Transit Task Force
In response to the ongoing financial crisis facing Metro, the County Council on Monday, March 1, 2010, confirmed the appointment of 28 members to the Regional Transit Task Force (RTTF) that will provide guidance for the county on the vision and future of our transit system. The RTTF members are geographically balanced and represent the social and economic diversity of the residents of King County, including elected officials, representatives from labor and business communities, social service providers, and riders of Metro. I am pleased to announce that District 2 will be ably represented by Estela Ortega from El Centro de la Raza, James Kelly of the Urban League, Josh Kavanaugh from the University of Washington, and the Central Area’s own “Bus Chick,” Carla Saulter. For additional information on the membership and work of the RTTF, please visit, http://www.kingcounty.gov/council/news/2010/March/transittas

Larry’s staff:
Cindy Domingo
Chief of Staff
206-296-0312
cindy.domingo@kingcounty.gov

* Budget and Fiscal Management Committee
* County budget issues
* Regional policy issues and ferry district
* District communications and office operations

Kamilah Brown
Legislative Aide
206-296-1002
kamilah.brown@kingcounty.gov

* Scheduling
* MLK Jr. Celebration Committee
* Constituent relations in Central Seattle, Capitol Hill and Madison Valley

Michelle Clark
Legislative Aide
206-296-0344
michelle.clark@kingcounty.gov

* Environment and Transportation Committee, including Growth Management issues
* Regional Transit Committee
* Constituent relations north of the ship canal (Fremont, University District, Ravenna, and Laurelhurst)

Larry Gossett’s staff:
Cindy Domingo
Chief of Staff
206-296-0312
cindy.domingo@kingcounty.gov

* Budget and Fiscal Management Committee
* County budget issues
* Regional policy issues and ferry district
* District communications and office operations

Kamilah Brown
Legislative Aide
206-296-1002
kamilah.brown@kingcounty.gov

* Scheduling
* MLK Jr. Celebration Committee
* Constituent relations in Central Seattle, Capitol Hill and Madison Valley

Michelle Clark
Legislative Aide
206-296-0344
michelle.clark@kingcounty.gov

* Environment and Transportation Committee, including Growth Management issues
* Regional Transit Committee
* Constituent relations north of the ship canal (Fremont, University District, Ravenna, and Laurelhurst)

Larry Evans
Legislative Aide
206-296-0396
larry.evans@kingcounty.gov

* Law Justice and Human Services Committee and criminal justice related issues
* Housing issues
* Constituent relations in Rainier Valley, Columbia City, and Skyway

ltrain
ltrain
10 years ago

Problem is we don’t have the money to pay for these. Would the hill be okay if service was cut in half but remained electrical? I for one would, I like the 10 min schedule of the 10, but 20 would be fine.

It easy to say no switch, but we have to be real, the money needs to come from somewhere.

Zef Wagner
Zef Wagner
10 years ago

No! That is a terrible idea! Frequent transit service is successful transit service. Anything over 15 minute frequency leads to really low ridership and guarantees it will only be used by completely transit-dependent folks.

Yes, this needs to be paid for, but the answer is not to cut service. The Metro audit was only identifying a range of possible cost-savings–Metro can still decide to ignore that part of the audit. Now, that still means they will cut service next year, so the answer may come from Seattle stepping up and paying for it through some new funding source like a Transportation Benefit District or other funding mechanism.

Remember, Metro’s problem is they have maxed out their taxing authority–the City of Seattle has not. This also makes sense because the rest of the county has little incentive to save an electric trolley system that only exists in Seattle.

down with wires
down with wires
10 years ago

goodbye and good riddance.

the wires hold us down, when we should be soaring.

the less wires the better.

i will not miss them, i need sky to dream.

Me
Me
10 years ago

Well, your dream sky will be polluted and hard to see if you want diesel only buses.

Really?

JeffW
JeffW
10 years ago

Once the light rail and First Hill line are completed, won’t we need fewer busses running in the Pike/Pine corridor? I realize a number of those routes service other locals (the 43 and 49 routes for example), but rather than replacing the trolleys 1 for 1, maybe we only need say 75% of the current fleet.
Plus there has to be a lot of money from the Feds in the form of matching transit funds and carbon offset credits.
Would be nice to see some of our tax dollars come back to the Hill rather than going to build some road to a far off subdivision…
JeffW

--
--
10 years ago

Taxes shouldn’t be the way to solve every problem.

John Campbell
John Campbell
10 years ago

Diesel exhaust is a huge source of carbon particles.

“Because of their small size, inhaled particles may easily penetrate deep into the lungs. The rough surfaces of these particles makes it easy for them to bind with other toxins in the environment, thus increasing the hazards of particle inhalation.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_particulate_matter

Electric power displaces this problem to another location and, more importantly, allows alternative sources of generation that may not have nearly as much environmental or health consequences.

yupyup
yupyup
10 years ago

-ride your bike or walk.