Metro Transit receives federal grant to go ‘off the grid’ | Money will buy prototype battery-powered electric bus

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced today that it will award King County Metro Transit $4.7 million to purchase a prototype electric bus that runs on battery power.

  • BY Wire Service
  • Friday, October 29, 2010 10:54am
  • News

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced today that it will award King County Metro Transit $4.7 million to purchase a prototype electric bus that runs on battery power.

Unlike Metro’s current fleet of electric trolley buses, these light-weight vehicles have the ability to operate without being connected to a fixed overhead wire. They can power up at a free-standing charging station and then travel up to 15 miles one way from the station. Metro will also explore if the prototype bus can connect to existing trolley wires for a “fast charge” when needed.

“This next generation electric coach combines the benefits of a clean, quiet trolley with the mobility of a standard bus,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine in thanking the FTA for the award. “If the prototype can work well here in King County, battery-powered buses could become an excellent candidate for replacement of aging Metro buses and trolleys. Not only would they cut diesel fuel costs, but they would also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Constantine said this grant marks another major investment in King County’s overall transportation system by the federal government. Earlier this month, the King County Department of Transportation received $34 million in federal money to top off funding needed to replace the South Park Bridge over the Duwamish River.

Metro’s prototype battery-dominant electric bus should be delivered in late 2012. This type of bus is popular in other countries, but is just now becoming commercially available in the United States. Metro plans to buy one or two vehicles plus one or two charging stations to test their suitability for the transit system here.

“Metro is uniquely positioned to advance the development and implementation of new electric-bus technology,” said Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond. “We already have one of the largest fleets of electric trolley buses in the nation, and the largest fleet of 60-foot hybrid diesel-electric buses. The new battery-dominant buses will let us examine how we can expand the use of zero-emissions vehicles beyond the existing trolley system.”

Desmond said Metro continues to explore different technology options for providing transit service. In addition to the battery bus demonstration, Metro is in the process of conducting a study to evaluate hybrid and trolley buses as replacements for the existing trolley fleet, which is reaching the end of its useful life. The study is examining several factors in choosing the vehicles to replace the trolleys including: cost; network and system considerations; environmental impacts; funding opportunities; and legal issues. The study findings will help the county make an informed decision about the best technology to use on these routes as the current trolley buses wear out.

The trolley replacement study started last summer, and does not include battery-dominant buses as an option because they are not yet available for a large-scale purchase nor tested on a system in the United States like Metro’s. At this time, the technology is not ready to replace heavy-duty transit vehicles, but is advancing rapidly, Metro officials say.

The agency is also involved in projects to promote both the private use of electric vehicles.

In addition to the grant, the FTA also awarded Metro and Sound Transit $6 million to purchase 40-foot and 60-foot hybrid diesel-electric buses to replace conventional diesel buses that have reached the end of their useful lives.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Dr. Faisal Khan. Courtesy of King County.
Dr. Faisal Khan appointed as next King County health director

Dennis Worsham will continue to serve as interim director until September 6.

Teaser
King County experts discuss extreme heat mitigation plan

The plan includes improving infrastructure and communications to prevent future disasters.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterburg (File Photo)
King County Prosecuting Attorney vows to protect reproductive freedom

Dan Satterberg joins over 80 prosecutors from around the country in their pledge.

Teaser
King County approves emergency grant after U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

Washington is expecting an influx of people seeking abortions from out of state.

Fedor Osipov, 15, flips into Steel Lake in Federal Way during last year's heatwave on June 28, 2021. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Heatwave expected to hit King County

Temperatures will likely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, June 26, and Monday, June 27.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII: Examining Auburn police officer’s grim tattoos

Episode 5 in special podcast series that explores Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

File photo.
Former Bellevue teacher sentenced in federal court over child pornography

Department of Justice says the man had 1,764 images of child sexual abuse in his possession.

Photo courtesy of King County.
Officials urge caution when swimming this summer

Cold spring temperatures and larger than normal snowpack have created dangerous conditions

File photo
Fireworks ban takes effect this year in unincorporated King County

The new law does not extend to cities, which each have their own regulations around fireworks.

Most Read