En Route to Zero-Emissions, King County Metro Tries out New Buses


King County Metro (KCM), the public transit authority of King County, Wash., which includes Seattle, has launched a new electric bus test and evaluation program.

According to KCM, manufacturers (e.g., New Flyer and Proterra) will provide 40- and 60-foot battery-powered buses for the performance test. The buses will initially be operated out of metro’s South Base in Tukwila. KCM has a goal of operating a zero-emissions fleet no later than 2040.

“Our long-term partnership with KCM dates over 40 years with more than 1,500 buses delivered with various propulsion systems ranging from clean diesel to hybrid-electric, trolley-electric and now battery-electric,” says Wayne Joseph, president of New Flyer of America. “Since the late 1970s, KCM has been on the forefront of sustainable public transit, and in May 2018, we proudly celebrated the delivery of our 10,000th Xcelsior bus – another electric hybrid – with King County Metro. Today, we’re thrilled to mark our continued partnership with KCM as it leads America’s evolution to sustainable, zero-emission transit with battery-electric power.”

Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra, adds, “As one of our early-adopter customers, King County Metro has provided invaluable feedback as we’ve worked to deliver a bus capable of meeting King County’s performance requirements. We look forward to continuing our partnership as they transition to a zero-emission fleet.”

According to KCM, the buses will be able to travel 140 miles on a single charge – nearly six times farther than the fast-charge buses currently in its fleet.

“Leading the transition to zero-emission transit requires ingenuity and partnerships – and we have both,” says Dow Constantine, King County executive. “We are challenging manufacturers to create reliable battery buses that meet our service needs on long routes with steep hills.”

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