Community Post

Metro wants your feedback on trolley bus study

King County Metro is in the beginning stages of a year-long study that will try to answer an important question for the Central District: whether to keep electric trolley buses or replace them with some other technology.

In a public meeting tonight, a big crowd of people showed up to learn more and give Metro their feedback. The vast majority were big supporters of trolley buses and wanted to see them kept in Seattle. Sanjay Das (pictured above) was carrying a sign around the room that said “Save Seattle Trolley Buses!” He told us that he’s passionate about the topic because they “are clean, quiet, better hill climbers, and just plain cool.”

As we’ve discussed before, the projected cost of buying new electric trolley buses is much higher than diesel ones, leading the county to do an end-to-end comparison of all of the cost and environmental differences between various propulsion technologies. When the study is complete next year, it will include a recommendation to the county council, who will make the final decision on whether to keep the trolleys.

Here’s a few of the areas that the county has already identified as elements of the study:

  • Capital costs for new buses
  • Energy costs, including some work by experts to forecast a range of future diesel prices
  • Other operating costs, such as maintenance, labor, and scheduling efficiency
  • Air quality & greenhouse gas production
  • Noise
  • Hill-climbing ability

The big question at this point is what else they need to add to that list. The first phase is “scoping”, to basically define the bounds of what the study will cover. And they’re actively soliciting public feedback to make sure that list is complete.

If you have items you’d like to see added, email them to [email protected]

Additionally, the county is very interested in any ways that the city can help reduce the cost of operation of the trolley system. We previously discussed two options for that, including lower electricity rates (small difference) and taking over responsibility for trolley line maintenance (big difference). They’re suggesting that people interested in those options make their opinions known to the city council.

0 thoughts on “Metro wants your feedback on trolley bus study

  1. How can Seattle be thinking of replacing trolley busses that are not even a decade old. I do understand that the motors are rebuilt from the AM Generals, however, the shells (bodies) are merely a decade old. In Vancouver, where I am from, the Flyer trolleys ran from 1982 until 2006. That’s 24 years! Even did the AM Generals ran from 1978 until 2002 (also 24 years). Edmonton ran their BBC trolleys from 1980 until 2009.. Not to mention the Brills and Twin coaches that ran from the mid 40’s untill the mid 70’s in Seatlle. Do the math. A rebuilt electric motor is as good as new. Simply replace brushes and copper wire etc. and your good to go practically indefinitely. There’s lots of life left in the Gilligs, assuming they’ve been maintained. The only thing I see here is that Metro, and / or the city is looking to save costs and get rid of them altogether with the supposed “7 YEAR” transit bus rule, which requires diesel busses to be retired after 7 years in the U.S.A. This Law ( or insurance recommendation ) does not apply to trolley coaches. At least, this is what I’ve been informed of. I’d like to see some input from someone who really knows what’s going on with these perfectly operational vehicles, and why so soon is their retirement being considered.

  2. Just a grammatical correction to the previous post submitted by Myself..
    ” Even the Am Generals ran from 1978 until 2002 ” … is correct,
    not ” Even did the AM Generals ran “… My bad.
    -Del from Vancouver BRITISH COLUMBIA