New trolley buses coming by 2015

As reported today on the Capitol Hill Seattle blog, King County Metro Transit will be replacing its fleet of trolley buses.

CHS has reported on the long, winding road to replacing Metro’s fleet of aging trolley buses. This week, King County has announced it is done shopping:

King County Metro Transit announced today it will replace its aging trolley fleet with new all-electric New Flyer coaches that will take about one-third less energy to power. Metro is second only to San Francisco in having the largest electric trolley fleet in the nation.


Metro plans to initially purchase up to 141 trolley buses – about 10 percent of its entire fleet – under a contract with New Flyer totaling up to $164 million. Future bus purchases will be dependent on fleet needs and whether Metro is able to avoid service reductions in the coming years.


“Electric trolleys have a lot of fans, and I’m one of them,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “They’re quiet, they run clean, they’re part of our transit heritage, and studies confirm they’re the best for moving riders in our very hilly and dense urban environment.”


Federal and Metro capital funds will be used to purchase the buses, with the first prototype expected to arrive in 2014. Riders can expect to see new coaches hit the streets in 2015.

The announcement includes some data on buses that operate throughout the Central District and Capitol Hill:

The New Flyer electric trolley buses will use an estimated 25-30 percent less energy than the current electric trolley buses, and use regenerative braking that puts power back into the energy system.


The trolleys also will be able to operate off-wire on battery power for short distances – a feature that will allow the bus to reliably reroute around collisions without calling for a Metro push truck. It also will reduce the need to substitute diesel buses when construction affects routes along electric bus corridors.


The new buses will have low floors for easier and faster boarding and exiting. They include an updated system to secure wheelchairs, and the 60 foot buses will have three doors, air conditioning and the ability to kneel the full length of the bus.

4 thoughts on “New trolley buses coming by 2015

  1. Congratulation to everyone who organized and sent comments of support to maintain these when King County was considering going all diesel. Sometimes common sense and public participation DOES matter!

  2. This is such fantastic news. I hope this means we only have to wait another 1.5 years or so to get the LOUD, stinky diesel busses off the streets on the weekends. To think, that could have been the new norm every day. Thanks King County and all those who helped let them know that this is what we wanted.