Community Post

Seattle Times: Trolley buses still on the chopping block

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?

0 thoughts on “Seattle Times: Trolley buses still on the chopping block

  1. References
    http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2010/05/08/reminder-metro-

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

    http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2010/01/15/metro-considers – note the survey is closed now

    http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/03/22/the-end

    TAKE ACTION
    To the list below beginning with Johnathan Dong please add:
    Larry Gossett and County Executive Dow Constantine:
    Councilman Larry Gossett:
    larry.gossett@kingcounty.gov

    King County Executive
    E-mail: kcexec@kingcounty.gov
    Main phone: 206-296-4040
    Fax: 206-296-0194
    TTY Relay: 711

  2. 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 us.
    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

  3. where is the sky?, i cried.

    behind the wires, they replied.

    i looked, and it was true, the sky was there, but separated from us by wires.

    the wires hold us down, down with the people who don’t know the sky and don’t care.

    away with the wires, let us soar with the wind and be free.

  4. nice try, but the wires rock – for many many reasons. keep the electric busses!

  5. I agree – keep the wires. The trolleys work better on the steep hills, they’re quiet, non-polluting, and sure, diesels may be cheaper to operate right now, but how about in a few years when diesel fuel costs $5 or more per gallon due to peak oil, which we’ve already hit, according to many?

  6. Um yeah, the sky is still there. If you’d like to see it unobstructed, just step off into the alley or look up in your yard. Oh wait! The electric, cable and phone wires are there!

    Trolley cars are way better for the environment and haul up hills with ease compared to their diesel brethren. I’m more than happy to have the wires stay. In fact, let’s run more. I want to see more trolley lines, more fiber optic cables, and replacements for the old phone lines. Wires wires wires!