King County currently has 159 electric trolley buses that run along nearly 70 miles of two-way overhead wire throughout Seattle. These trolleys carry about one-fifth of Metro’s ridership. The buses are reaching the end of their useful lives.
The initial findings of an evaluation of options for replacing Metro Transit's aging trolley bus fleet suggest that when all factors are considered - including available funding - new electric trolley buses would be the most cost-effective replacement with the least environmental impacts, according to King County Executive Dow Constantine.
"The initial findings of this study appear to confirm my own belief that electric trolley buses are the best vehicles for moving riders in dense urban environments," said Executive Constantine. "As the study shows, they are clean, quiet, and the modern trolleys can be very cost-effective to operate over their lifetime."
Metro is inviting the public to learn more about the initial findings of the trolley bus system evaluation at an open house on:
Wednesday, April 27
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Plymouth Congregational Church
1217 6th Ave., Seattle
King County currently has 159 electric trolley buses that run along nearly 70 miles of two-way overhead wire throughout Seattle. These trolleys carry about one-fifth of Metro's ridership. The buses are reaching the end of their useful lives, and under the current schedule the County will need to order replacement buses before the end of 2012.
Before replacing these buses, the Metropolitan King County Council directed Metro to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of replacement options that would work best on current trolley routes. Last summer, Metro narrowed the possibilities to two types of vehicles- either new electric trolley buses or diesel-electric hybrid buses. Any new trolley would come with the ability to go off the overhead wire for short distances to travel around traffic blockages.
"Trolley bus supporters like me have advocated all along that electric trolley buses are the best, most cost effective way to serve compact urban neighborhoods and this thorough evaluation confirms that position," said Councilmember Larry Phillips, who called for the trolley bus replacement evaluation and chairs the Transportation, Economy, and Environment Committee. "I applaud the Executive's initial response to the findings and look forward to hearing input from citizens on the draft report."
A consultant assessed the two options in several areas including purchase price, operating cost, network and system considerations, environmental impacts, funding opportunities, and legal issues.
"The study evaluated all the cost factors beyond just the sticker price of the new vehicles," said the Executive. "While the base price cost of hybrid diesel buses is lower - the study points out other factors, including clean and less expensive energy and quiet operations. I look forward to seeing the final report when it is completed later this spring."
The Executive urged the community to stay involved in the process, and asked Metro to host another open house before the study is made final. Residents can provide feedback about the initial findings either at the April 19 meeting or online. Updated information about the study and a comment form will be available online starting the week of April 11 at www.kingcounty.gov/trolleyevaluation. The comments will be considered as the evaluation is completed this spring.
The final study will inform transit policy as Metro builds its budget for the 2012-2013 biennium and makes plans for purchase of the replacement trolley buses.