Metro Testing Battery Buses

King County Metro has been a leader of low-emission vehicles and is now aiming for an even more energy-efficient fleet. Metro will be testing out two 40 foot heavy-duty battery electric buses.

The new buses are funded by a $4.7 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration. Proterra Inc. will be providing the new buses. Metro plans to test the buses with the rest of the fleet to see how they operate in real world conditions.

The buses are zero-emission, using a fast charging battery that can travel for up to 23 miles between charges. The buses will be considered for replacing the regular 40 foot diesel coaches now in use, and also would get 15 more miles per gallon than the diesel coaches. The testing will begin in June of 2015.

Metro is also replacing other older buses with hybrid-electric models. A new feature allows the buses to cut the engine off completely when no power is needed. That change is expected to reduce fuel costs by 5 to 10% each year.

The first hybrid buses were introduced ten years ago. Metro estimates that $4.8 million are saved each year from the hybrid buses. Electric trolleys in use also save $1 million in year in fuel costs.

King County Metro has the second largest electric trolley system and the largest all-electric vanpool fleet in the United States.