King County Makes Largest eBus Buy Ever: 120 Buses by 2020, 73 From Proterra

JAN 12 2017 BY MARK KANE 59

King County Metro Transit in Seattle, Washington, has announced the largest all-electric bus order in North America.  Ever.

King County Metro's All-Electric Proterra Catalyst FC Bus

King County Metro’s All-Electric Proterra Catalyst FC Bus

In total, 120 battery-electric buses are to be purchased by 2020. It’s already confirmed that up to 73 of those will be supplied by Proterra.

Cost of 73 Proterra buses is estimated at up to $55 million, with the first 8 Proterra eBuses to be delivered this year.

“Fulfilling his commitment to the greening of King County’s fleets, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced today that King County Metro will purchase up to 73 all-electric battery buses from Proterra at a cost of up to $55 million, starting with 20 buses totaling $15.12 million. Charging stations to support the initial orders of those buses will range from $5.5 million to $6.6 million.”

King County Metro Transit previously had tested three Proterra buses, and also a fast charging station (enabling a 10-minutes recharge),  so we figure trial that must have went off fairly well.

Beside Proterra fast charging buses, King County Metro Transit is also ordering long-range buses (with a range of about 140 miles) from various other manufacturers.

“Federal funding often helps pay for Metro’s new bus purchases. Last year, King County Metro received a $3.3 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low-or No-Emission Vehicle Deployment Program to help fund some new battery buses and charging stations for three buses that are in operations on the eastside of King County.”

“The 40-foot battery buses have an estimated range of about 25 miles, with a quick charging time of just 10 minutes.

Maintenance costs of all-electric buses are expected to decline versus hybrid-diesels, primarily because they have fewer moving parts.

Eight of the buses are slated to go into service this year; 12 more in 2019. Up to eight of the new 40-foot battery buses will likely operate on Metro Routes 226 and 241 in Bellevue. As part of a pilot project last year, Metro began running three all-electric buses on these routes, which serve some of the county’s densest job centers, including the Microsoft campus and downtown Bellevue.

King County Metro's All-Electric Proterra Catalyst FC Bus

King County Metro’s All-Electric Proterra Catalyst FC Bus

As part of today’s announcement, Metro will acquire up to nine long-range electric buses from different manufacturers to test the battery technology with a range of about 140 miles. With this approximately $7 million acquisition, Metro is challenging the industry to produce buses that can travel farther. Metro also is calling on the industry to develop 60-foot long buses, better able to replace the articulated buses that make up 55 percent of its fleet.

Each battery bus reduces tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 65 tons each year, the equivalent of 21 cars off the road. The new buses run cleaner, quieter, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.  Cutting diesel emissions also means better air quality, benefiting people with asthma and other health issues.

Metro is a leader in clean technology. It was the first transit agency to adopt diesel-electric hybrids, and it currently operates more than 170 electric trolley buses. By committing to replacing its current fleet with clean vehicles, Metro is influencing the development and expansion of the all-electric bus market.

Transportation is the region’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, emitting nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions.  The County’s Strategic Climate Action Plan calls for both increased transit service and a cleaner fleet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new battery bus technology will reduce Metro’s fuel use as it provides more service to customers.”

“In conjunction with this battery bus order, Metro is conducting a comprehensive analysis of the best approach for achieving a zero-emissions fleet. A Battery Bus stakeholder group is advising on the approach and priorities for achieving a zero emissions fleet.”

Proterra SIngle Blade Bus-Mounted Charging Technology

Proterra Single Blade Bus-Mounted Charging Technology

Dow Constantine, King County Executive said:

“From our electric trolley bus fleet to building the nation’s largest diesel-hybrid bus fleet, King County has long been an innovator in clean vehicle technology. Now, we’re dramatically expanding our zero-emission electric buses and working with the industry to innovate and offer next generation vehicles that move people quietly and cleanly while helping meet our climate goals.”

Claudia Balducci, King County Council said:

“King County is well on track to meet our greenhouse gas emissions goal in our Metro bus fleet. These new battery buses will multiply our ability to protect our climate and clean air in King County.”

Ryan Popple, President and CEO of Proterra said:

“King County Metro’s decision to purchase up to 73 Proterra battery-electric buses not only represents a significant milestone for mass transit in the U.S., but also a resounding victory for the clean transportation industry as a whole. Already a model for the new generation of sustainability-minded transit agencies, King County Metro continues to demonstrate its commitment to exceptional service, environmental action, and technological innovation. We look forward to supporting them as they deploy our industry-leading Catalyst buses across their expanding ridership base.”

Rob Gannon, General Manager of King County Metro said:

“To better serve our customers, we want battery buses that travel longer distances and can carry more people. We’re committed to expanding our battery bus fleet, and need the industry to accelerate development of standardized battery bus charging systems so they can work flexibly for any bus route, and also build high-performing 60-foot-long articulated buses – which serve as the transit workhorses in King County.”

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59 Comments on "King County Makes Largest eBus Buy Ever: 120 Buses by 2020, 73 From Proterra"

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Buses are a big deal.

These should at least last until autonomy comes and renders large buses obsolete. :p

What does autonomous driving have to do with buses? Large or small?
You don’t think cities are going to eliminate the driver on the buses, do you? Can you imagine people on a bus with no authority figure on the bus? No one would ride the autonomous buses because they would be filthy, chaotic, dangerous crime scenes on wheels. It wouldn’t matter if there were cameras with real time oversight, the elimination of the driver would make buses less safe and less clean.
Perhaps you mean that autonomous Uber type taxis will replace buses? I don’t see that happening because a substantial portion of the bus riding population don’t have credit cards.

They are called subways. You don’t get on the bus unless the card reader by the door allows you to. If you cause trouble you will be banned.

Yes, I think that if autonomy is affordable cities will eliminate the bus driver because it’ll make the transportation system faster, more flexible and cheaper.

Doesn’t mean that have _no_ staff on buses at all, but they could divert some of the monies paid to drivers to CCTV and ticket inspectors.

You don’t need a credit card to ride a bus, you just need a way to get tickets or to get money into a payment system. A lot of people riding buses are frequent riders using multi-trip tickets (I used to use weekly or monthly tickets 10 years ago), and there is increasing use of electronic payment systems.

A relatively simple back-up cash-based system could have tickets available at convenience stores.

Ziv said:

“You don’t think cities are going to eliminate the driver on the buses, do you?”

Yup. As soon as they possibly can, to save money.

“Can you imagine people on a bus with no authority figure on the bus?”

Yup. As SJC already pointed out, those are called “subway cars”.

“No one would ride the autonomous buses because they would be filthy, chaotic, dangerous crime scenes on wheels.”

You mean, you’re so afraid that you see public transit as frightening. That means more room for the rest of us, hooray!

How often will they clean the urine and other fecal matter off the seats? No, spraying with air freshener and light brushing doesn’t count as “cleaning” when the sh*t is literally soaked in the seats.

But more importantly, wouldn’t it be cheaper to contract out with Uber/Lyft and GM? These buses may carry about 1000 people per day (I typically see about 10 people in the buses). At $20 per short uber ride on average, that’s $20K/day or $7.3M/yr or 7.5 years with $55M. That’s not counting any of the salaries for the staff or infrastructure or energy or any other incidentals.

Even if ridership is double, we’re talking about almost 4 years. By that time, self driving cars will be having an impact in transportation, and these buses will be obsolete. As with most (or all I’ve looked at) public transit project, this seems way too expensive for what it delivers.

The buses in the City of Richmond don’t have that issue of people not being house broken.

If you think people who are not house broken act like animals on buses with 40 other people on them. Wait tell they get to have ten minutes alone in a self driving car were it is only them alone.

Also self driving cars will most likely make more traffic if not do anything to get rid of traffic. Due to their still being 40 self driving cars in the place of one bus on the road.

The homeless guy high on something in that area is no more house broken than elsewhere. The fecal matter piles up, despite looking “clean”. Just check out this video of a bus. I suspect this is what happens on all buses, we just choose “ignorance is bliss”

As for Lyft, etc., if they want customers, they better keep the seats clean. If known as urine smelling car, no one would call for it. But with buses, you have no choice. Especially given the amount of money wasted on the buses when Lyft/Bolt could be lot cheaper when you include bus labor, this project reeks.

where in the Hell do you live? Cause the buses around here are VERY clean!

SparkEV equates all transit, regardless of where it operates with dirty, smelly, poor people movers.
He thinks the well heeled transit users should be driving themselves about in SparkEVs.
Unfortunately due to his dislike of public transportation he will never board the Clue Express.

I’m a lifelong NYC subway and bus commuter and it kind of agree with SparkEV. People are pigs, and the subway and buses are giant Petri dishes for germs, bacteria, and viruses. I consciously try not to touch the poles and bars to hold on to while riding the subway/bus, or any surface in a subway or bus. If I have to hold on for balance, I’ll reach up to put my hand on the ceiling or grab the pole much higher up, as far fewer people touch the ceiling or the top of the pole and there will be fewer germs. It’s good to be tall. 🙂

Just go on YouTube and search for “NYC subway rat” for dozens of eye opening videos:

He lives in San Diego. #1 destination for homeless people who like to defecate on bus seats.

Salt meet grain.

San Diego is extremely clean compared to LA and SF. You should get out of your mom’s basement and take the public transit sometimes.

Are all spark ev owners delusional like you. You and this guy should meet one day.

You should click on SparkEv’s screen name. 😉

I’m pretty sure that’s dried out foam particles/crumbs.

Why would the homeless ride the bus? They would get thrown off the bus at the last stop. In cold weather NYC, the homeless ride the warm subway overnight or for days when the temps dip to well below freezing. Plus there’s plenty of places of defecate in the subway system as opposed to a moving bus; there are even restrooms at numerous stations.

There’s also never a dull moment on the subway, and you get to meet some real characters.

That seat looks like typical seat we have on buses, and there’s really no foam. It’s simply clothing cover on top of hard plastic, no cushion at all. You might wonder how so much can come from thin cloth, but I dusted my dog’s carpet, and it was amazing how much came out.

Yes, homeless do defecate in many places. But it’s not just direct defecation; they wear soiled clothes and sit on the seats, and public transit is integration of all previous such events since they don’t seem to get cleaned as well.

All the NYC subway trains and regular buses not have hards plastic seats, while express buses and regional commuter rail lines have cushioned seats. I know they definitely hose down and sanitize those hard plastic and insides of all the subway cars and buses, nightly I believe. They also clean and sanitize the stations, but less frequently and not as thoroughly.

After a late night out last night, I was riding the bus home after getting off the subway and noticed that all the hard plastic molded seats had a drain hole in the seat bottom, which has an upside-down dome shape. After reading your comments earlier in the day, I couldn’t help to think that not only do they drain the seats after the transit authority washes them, but they would also drain the seats if someone urinated on them. 😀

The buses in Houston are a lot nicer than they were 10 years ago, the last generation of non-hybrid buses.

I think you have a problem with stereotypes.

Don’t sit.

Except hand rails were probably touched by people sick with flu who sneezed in their hands and grabbed on to all the handles on the entry / exit. Yes, I know, wash your hands!

For everyone still clamoring to ride the bus, keep safe and I hope the flu shot will protect you. You did get the flu shot, didn’t you?

Never felt the need for a flu shot. I’ve had the flu maybe once in the last 20 years, and it was caught from someone sharing my home.

Sadly, there’s no vaccine against bigotry or snobbery.

You also probably haven’t been on a public bus in the last 20 years out there in rural Kansas. And FYI, SparkEV didn’t say anything bigoted. So stop it with the false and libelous statements.

Couldn’t agree more. There is so much more that could be done with that kind of money. This is rediculous. Nothing is gained with 25 mile range buses (besides wasted money). They should keep their hybrid diesels and wait for something better. Have a little respect for taxpayers (or at the very least pretend)

Diesel is kind of nasty, so doing something is good.

But as I mentioned, contract out with Lyft that use Bolt would’ve been perfectly cost effective method. Not only would the Bolt drivers be happy to be able to drive such smooth car, they’ll keep the cars clean to keep the high ratings. The riders will benefit not only from being able to share and reduce cost, but also carry cargo door-to-door. They can actually go grocery shopping, unlike the super expensive bus.

For the low income, this is far more beneficial than any bus, and this is probably cheaper by whole lot to the city.

If we want to see just how the very rich in our society have been able to justify creating a widening economic gap between rich and poor over the past 35 years or so, we need look no farther than how one-percenters like Sparky here view the working poor and others living below the poverty line. Apparently he sees them on about the same level with rats and cockroaches. With that attitude, no wonder the very rich have been able to justify to enriching themselves at the expense of the middle class and the poor!

“Trickle down economics”? The reality is “Gushing up economics”!

FYI, King County is the county Seattle Washington is in (in case you didn’t catch that).

So on one hand, Proterra’s concept is neat in that it doesn’t require tons and tons of batteries in the bus, enabled instead by the quick recharge stations.

On the other hand, what’s their battery life if they have to quick charge several times per day to continue their route?

Proterra fast-charge battery life is 6-9 years. Lithium Titanate from Toshiba.

I ride buses in my city and they are clean and pleasant.

Thanks. That’s an impressive life expectancy given the high rate of charge and how often that charging is occurring.

I hope they exceed those expectations!

Proud to be a regular daily King County Metro rider.

An agency that has held strong against the economic crisis austerity crap, and the even more ridiculous crap thrown at it by anti-transit idiots.

Without Metro’s service and Sound Transit light and commuter rail, the greater Seattle region would have ground to a halt long ago.

I live 7 miles from downtown, and in an hour I’m likely to leave home and be at my downtown office less than 30 minutes later, a feat that no SOV driver around here can match during rush hour, even without accounting for the economic (personal and general) and environmental gains.

Hoping Proterra can rise up the the task of longer e-Buses, because indeed the vast majority of commuter buses into downtown Seattle are of that kind. Right now, I guess it’s the Eastside that’s going to enjoy the new beauties.

Oh, and those buses I ride daily are clean, well-maintained, and full of ordinary commuters just like myself. A typical long bus on the 77 line will have some 70 riders each trip, nearly all seated.

The 312 which I occasionally hop onto on the way home, and goes further out to the suburbs, might be somewhat more full on occasion. Still quite a pleasant ride.

Haha, 22 minutes today, door-to-door.

Bus was full though. A good 100 people. Still a pleasant ride.

Buses cause traffic jams. Without them making multiple stops and blocking cars behind them in rush hour traffic, things would move lot more smoothly. Buses are limited to large streets, but cars are not thanks to things like waze app. You might think you’re saving time by taking the bus, but you should consider a world without buses blocking traffic. It’d flow lot better, especially in cities.

But no amount of logical argument will convince the religious who don’t care that just one homeless guy peeing will saturate the seats of all buses in a year. Keep throwing money away for less convenient mode of transportation that creates more traffic while enjoying the fine stool powder and spreading disease.


You don’t know ANYTHING about buses, do you?

Doesn’t stop you from having sooooo many opinions about them.

Happy 2017!

I know enough about buses that traffic flow lot smoother when they are not blocking my way, picking up people. That causes stop-and-go from people changing lanes to get away from the bus which has daisy chain effect that stretch for many blocks. But when there’s no bus, traffic moves smoothly and at fairly constant speed.

Happy 2017, and keep safe from germs while you ride the bus!

Excuse me, but parking is a nightmare in the places where most people are trying to get to work. I take the bus downtown because parking there is $5 to $10 – street parking can’t be trusted to be there in the morning. My attempts to park my car along the edge of downtown and walk the rest of the way ended because a back street where it appeared a no-parking area ended got swept by the parking Nazis anyway and it cost me hundreds of $ to get it back from the impound lot. I’m lucky I didn’t have to pay for repairs.

Yet Houston is probably better than most big cities in this regard. No, I can’t Goddamn wait for those Uber and Lyft predators to solve everything. Driving down there is just too scary.

Alternative to bus isn’t everyone driving solo in their cars. As mentioned, car sharing is an example, and I’m sure there are even better ways thought up by smarter people (no, buses aren’t it). Look at the cost breakdown I show way up in this comment section. You can literally give free Lyft rides for everyone who’d ride the bus, and it could be cheaper.

As for waiting, you don’t seem to mind spending time going to the bus stop braving terrible weather and more waiting, why don’t you like waiting in the comfort of your own home for Uber/Lyft? With the bus, you also have to walk from bus stop to your destination whereas Lyft would take you right up to the door.

You say buses are quicker than cars? If you follow the bus in your car, including waiting at all the stops buses make, it’d be the same speed. To suggest buses are quicker is ridiculous argument. Unless you are the bus driver and make no passenger pick ups/drop offs, cars are always quicker than buses and never slower.

Now you might be saying there’s special lane for buses. But that lane could be used as general purpose lane, or even an HOV lane. Then that can be used by Lyft/Uber since they will be carrying more than one. In addition, they will not be stopping to pick up passengers in middle of busy roadway, further reducing traffic.

Again, believe all the nonsense of your religion. Public transportation is just poor option for everyone and detrimental to public health (ie, spreading the flu).

The only bus perk my ride uses is a downtown HOV exit lane. Worth a good 10 minutes on average.

Any car with 2+ people can use it. Including, e.g., a mom driving her toddler to a childcare near work, which is precisely what one of my colleagues used to do when having small kids.

Fact is, that lane is wide open, whereas the SOV exits are packed. Some bus lines are unlucky to have to use the SOV exits due to routing.

Last week, the police sprang up an HOV-cheater trap on that lane. When we passed by they have amassed a nice harvest of 4 offenders: 2 pickup truck, a full-size BMW, and Yuge SUV. It seemed they were all men 🙂

And generally, the SOV commute cars you see downtown skew towards the larger, more expensive, even luxury ones. Very clearly, those still preferring to traffic-jam it in and out (and make it worse for everyone else in the process), who are a minority in Seattle btw – they are overwhelmingly well-to-do men with mortal fear of sharing their cooties with us, or losing their car-driven masculinity

If it’s HOV, Lyft with Bolt could be able to use it, and it’d be quicker than the bus. Perhaps a new pricing for Lyft that takes 2 passengers with the benefit going to the driver could be implemented.

As for those who drive alone in their giant SUV stuck in traffic, sadly that’s much of America. If we can’t get them to switch to smaller cars, let alone EV, there’s no way they’d walk to a bus stop in the rain to take the bus.

However, Lyft might be an options since it’s almost like personal car in that you don’t have to wait at some publicly visible bus stop.

some streets are bus only during rush hour so you could ubering 15 people and it wouldn’t matter.

btw; when is the last time you were on a bus?

I rode the bus about a week ago to Autoshow. It reeked of urine on every damn seat.

About 15 years ago, I rode the bus exclusively for about a month until I found out that I can ride the bicycle quicker than the bus. Bus with all the stops were averaging about 12 MPH (even less if you include the wait time). My pedaling was averaging 15 MPH, over 20 MPH on long flat road without traffic lights.

I drive everywhere now because I live in a small city, but I used to commute by bus in Vancouver while going to school. Biking was of course the fastest, but transit was a close second, including stops, because I got picked up and dropped off within a 2 minute walk of destination, vs trying to find parking and having a 5 minute walk. That’s why the bus is faster for most commuters to a busy area.

Buses were never faster than taxis. If there’s ride sharing, that beats buses. And if there isn’t ride sharing, government should knock on the doors of Uber/Lyft/whoever else to come into their area rather than spending $55M and who knows how many millions a year on keeping the buses going despite the inconvenience of its riders.

If you happen to live and work across the street from bus stop, sure, it could be almost as convenient (though not for carrying big items). But those are not the majority. Uber would get you literally seconds from the front door even with largish cargo you couldn’t carry on a bus.

I live in Seattle and both the roads and the busses here are packed. Replacing busses with Uber/Lyft style ridesharing vehicles, autonomous or not, isn’t practical here because it would only increase our already terrible road congestion.

As for the stereotype of busses only being used lightly and only by poor, mentally ill substance abusers, that really isn’t the case here. The bus system here is heavily used by people from all social strata. Electricity here comes mostly from renewable sources so I welcome the initiative to take advantage of that by accelerating the move away from diesel.

I feel sick reading the “GMites'” comments in this thread .. j…. f…… c….. !–rs

Go Seattle! Get rid of the diesels asap and make bus transit as efficient as possible !

You don’t need hordes of homeless people to accumulate ass-dust as shown in the video above. You only need a few since it’s a cumulative process. Without constant cleaning, it’s just filthy, and I doubt they clean so often or as thoroughly.

As I mentioned, diesel is terrible, but wasting money on old inefficient way is also bad. Try something new and innovate, Seattle. Be that city that has (had?) innovators like Microsoft and Boeing.

What you’re doing is like judging SOV driving by a video of an exploding car, or of a deadly crash.

Those are actually more common – and SOV fenderbenders are infinitely more common – than the bus horror scenes you are imagining.

Get a grip, for your own good. The rest of us already know better 🙂

I should say you should get a clue. It’s 2016, there’s wireless internet and GPS on most phones, there’s best route algorithm based on real-time traffic data with Waze app, and we have ride sharing with Uber/Lyft and who knows what else would pop up.

It isn’t the 1950’s anymore. We don’t have to do the things the way we did then just because of “tradition”, despite it costing lot more and less effective than the new way. Think, rather than blindly follow. Or maybe you’re not an engineer, in which case you are forgiven for such close mindedness.

“Charging stations to support the initial orders of those buses will range from $5.5 million to $6.6 million.”

Sorry, but confused about charging station prices:
-for cars according to PU-PU a Supercharger with 120kW and 2 plugs is cca, $ 50 000. EVGo (350 kW) ChargePoint(400kW) prices are not known – are they?

-for buses how much is Proterra “single blade”? Does a station mean one upper pantograph-like charger?

So how many charging stations can cover $ 5.5-6.6 million?

premium, I believe Proterra fast-chargers run $250,000 to $350,000 each installed. That price is likely to come down considerably when many are ordered. KC Metro should be getting a lot of chargers!


Now how about the gas station-look quick chargers like EVgo, Charge Point – and two European networks in the making?

Are they also in the range of $300 000? Unlikely in my humble opinion.

350-400 kW is quite something! More than enough for relatively slow depot charging of buses and trucks.

It’s not for depot charging. It’s for fast-charging in use.

The idea is that there’s a charger at each terminus where the bus will fast-charge while waiting.

This means that the bus needs a lower range, which allows it to have a smaller, lighter battery, making it more efficient.

So King County needs to get:
-ugly, cheap, (how cheap: $10.000-40.000?) gas pump looking slow (how slow: 90 -150 kW?) night chargers for each bus in the depot

plus for opportunity charging some (1 for each 6-12 e-buses?)

-cool,expensive A/ $….-….gas pump looking charging wells with “pistols”, or B/$250.000-350.000 sweep pole looking overhead conductive chargers with single blade or pantograph

Still if “starting with 20 buses totaling $15.12 million” how many charging points will be built of the $5.6-6.6 million?

Mind you: e-buses do not come cheap ($0,75 million each) neither does their charging: that is more than a third(!) of the vehicle purchasing price!!!

Good buy to curb air pollution.

“Good buy to curb air pollution.” Yes. But in fact it is time to scrap private mobility entirely. If there is a desire to joyride in the countryside then rent a horse! No good argument for it. All of this bologna about, “It is what the consumer wants mhew mhew.” Jeebus, come off it. As a well-known vocalist reminds us, “Everybody knows.” Everybody knows it is time to walk more; it is time to move in closer; it is time to retrofit roadways into mixed covered-tram and covered-uncovered-bikeway-walkpath routes. Shove that sprawl back into the crevice of darkness from whence it came. Flying cars? No. Driving to the main road where you attach to the city pulley? No. Moving walkways? Nada. Hoverboard skateboards? Jetpack shoes? Helicopter helmet? Nil. None. Nope. After all this and still there is not a simple electric jetpack vest traveling on spider web rails encased in millimeter thin gorilla glass powered by smaller-than-the-eye-can-see solar panels and minified windmills? Hello, Innovation! Ef-it. Stay where you are. No tech for you. Tie this rope around your waist and stay close to your neighbor. “Going to work!” Get rid of the cars, highways, more than one lane blacktop, unnecessarily… Read more »