While driving around Seattle, it’s hard not to notice the overhead wire that runs above about 70 miles of pavement in and around the city. King County Metro Transit has a fleet of 159 electric trolley buses that operate along those lines, which had 19.7 million boardings on its routes in 2009 – about one-fifth of Metro’s total average weekday ridership.
Photo courtesy of King County Metro Transit
Fremont riders are amongst the trolleys’ many riders with routes 44, which stops at North 45th Street and Stone Way.
The county needs to replace all 159 existing vehicles by 2015, with an order deadline at the end of 2012.
King County Executive Dow Constantine has sent the King County Council a plan for a proposed evaluation in its imminent replacement of this fleet. It focuses on the technology of electric trolleys and diesel-electric hybrid buses, with a goal toward finding the most fuel-efficient, best value for the system. The Trolley Bus System Evaluation is expected to continue through the middle of next year. It will explore the costs, impact on the environment, funding opportunities and legal issues.
Metro plans additional public meetings for discussion of the evaluation as results become available. The next one is in Mount Baker on Sept.13.
Metro has already conducted a preliminary evaluation of several potential propulsion systems, including electric trolley, diesel, diesel-electric hybrid, compressed natural gas, electric battery, and hydrogen fuel cells.