King County Metro Transit announced today it will replace its aging trolley fleet with new all-electric New Flyer coaches that will take about one-third less energy to power. Metro is second only to San Francisco in having the largest electric trolley fleet in the nation.
Metro plans to initially purchase up to 141 trolley buses – about 10 percent of its entire fleet – under a contract with New Flyer totaling up to $164 million. Future bus purchases will be dependent on fleet needs and whether Metro is able to avoid service reductions in the coming years.
“Electric trolleys have a lot of fans, and I’m one of them,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “They’re quiet, they run clean, they’re part of our transit heritage, and studies confirm they’re the best for moving riders in our very hilly and dense urban environment.”
Federal and Metro capital funds will be used to purchase the buses, with the first prototype expected to arrive in 2014. Riders can expect to see new coaches hit the streets in 2015.
The announcement includes some data on Capitol Hill’s new rides:
The New Flyer electric trolley buses will use an estimated 25-30 percent less energy than the current electric trolley buses, and use regenerative braking that puts power back into the energy system.
The trolleys also will be able to operate off-wire on battery power for short distances – a feature that will allow the bus to reliably reroute around collisions without calling for a Metro push truck. It also will reduce the need to substitute diesel buses when construction affects routes along electric bus corridors.
The new buses will have low floors for easier and faster boarding and exiting. They include an updated system to secure wheelchairs, and the 60 foot buses will have three doors, air conditioning and the ability to kneel the full length of the bus.
City boosts county’s service on nine key Seattle bus lines
CHS has covered more talk of cuts to Metro’s service, but now nine routes will see service increases as the City of Seattle puts $750,000 towards expanding night and weekend bus rides.
“The City of Seattle is buying more than 5,000 hours of added service per year through early 2016 on nine high ridership bus routes in Seattle,” city officials announced June 16. The route increases are being funded through the Bridging the Gap levy that has purchased “45,000 hours of transit service each year” since 2008 according to a City of Seattle release.
Funds from the voter-approved levy will go towards increasing night and weekend service on routes: 5, 10, 21, 40, 41, 48, 49, and 120. In February 2014, funds will also go toward the Aurora RapidRide.
UPDATE: Here is Seattle Transit Blog’s take on the announcement.
The monetary booster shot comes during trying times for King County Metro, and will ideally reduce the wait time – and frustration – for some bus commuters.
“It’s great to be able to add this service at a time of ridership growth,” King County Metro general manager Kevin Desmond said in a statement. The City of Seattle release claims the added funds will “increase evening and weekend frequency on high-ridership routes from 30 to 15 minutes or from 60 to 30 minutes.” Serving as a relatively small fix, officials say there is still more work to be done to create long term solutions.
From the City:
Since 2008 the City of Seattle has used Bridging the Gap funds to purchase up to 45,000 hours of transit service each year. Using $750,000 in savings from Levy-funded projects, the City of Seattle is buying 5,000 additional hours of service on priority bus routes identified in the Transit Master Plan that serve SR 99, Interstate 5, and major arterial streets, including:
Route 5 (Greenwood to Downtown)
Route 10 (North Capitol Hill to Downtown)
Route 21 (West Seattle to Downtown)
Route 40 (Northgate-Crown Hill-Ballard-Fremont-South Lake Union-Downtown)
Route 41 (Lake City-Northgate-Downtown via Interstate 5)
Route 48 (University District to Mt. Baker Light Rail Station)
Route 49 (University District to Pike/Pine and Downtown)
Route 120 (West Seattle to Downtown)
Additionally, the pre-existing Metro Transit Now commitment providing 5,000 hours of 100 percent Metro-funded service would go into effect in February 2014 and fund more trips on the Aurora RapidRide E Line.