King County Metro Tests EV Buses With More Than 140 Miles Of Range

NOV 23 2018 BY MARK KANE 13

The ultimate goal is to become 100% zero-emission by 2040

King County Metro announced that it will perform tests of various long-range electric buses, searching for the best solution with more than 140 miles of range, which would satisfy about 70% of Metro’s bus routes.

The company already uses Proterra buses (short-range with ultra-fast charging capability) and now tests four New Flyer Xcelsior CHARGE buses: two 40-foot and two 60-foot.

The buses need not only cover the distance, but also handle steep hills.


King County Metro will soon begin testing long-range battery-powered buses that can travel more than 140 miles on a single charge, the latest milestone toward a zero-emission fleet.

The latest models can travel nearly six times farther than the fast-charge buses Metro currently has in its fleet. At that distance, the battery-powered buses could satisfy about 70 percent of Metro’s bus routes, reducing air and noise pollution throughout the region.

“Leading the transition to zero-emission transit requires ingenuity and partnerships – and we have both,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We are challenging manufacturers to create reliable battery buses that meet our service needs on long routes with steep hills. This test is the next step on our path to a clean, quiet fleet powered by renewable energy.”

Manufacturers will provide 40- and 60-foot battery-powered buses for the performance test. The buses will initially be operated out of Metro’s South Base in Tukwila. Metro has committed to prioritize deployment of new zero-emission buses on service operating from South King County, improving air quality and public health first in low-income and communities of color, which are most vulnerable to the public health impacts of air pollution.

King County Metro earlier this year became the first transit agency in North America to install a high-powered charging station at a base facility where recharging is combined with cleaning and maintenance. Short-range buses at Metro’s Bellevue Base can now fully recharge in much less time, which has made operations more efficient.

Metro is now building the infrastructure needed to recharge both short- and long-range buses to achieve its goal of operating a zero-emission fleet no later than 2040. King County is working with local utilities – Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy – to ensure that the batteries are charged with clean, renewable energy.


Demonstrating a strong market demand for quieter, cleaner battery-powered buses

Two decades ago, King County Metro pushed the manufacturing industry to produce diesel-electric hybrid buses and now operates the largest fleet of its kind in the nation. Now it is using its purchasing power to demonstrate that there is strong market demand for quieter and cleaner battery-powered buses.

“Before committing fully to manufacturers, we first must take steps to test the performance of this fast-moving technology,” said Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. “Our goal is to trade up for a cleaner future that supports the health of the communities we serve.”

In July, the authors of a comprehensive study praised King County’s leadership in the transition to zero-emission fleets, quantifying the benefits of battery-powered buses: lower maintenance and operational costs, reduced noise pollution, and less greenhouse gas emissions.

King County Metro was recently named the best large transit system in North America by the American Public Transportation Association, which cited the agency’s accomplishments in transitioning to clean, renewable sources of energy.

Source: King County Metro via Green Car Congress

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13 Comments on "King County Metro Tests EV Buses With More Than 140 Miles Of Range"

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2040 ⁉️

Good Lord ‼️

They will soon enough realize that they need all-electric buses much sooner to save cost! 🙂

They may need/want them sooner, but availability of buses meeting the requirements is questionable. Seattle has serious hills. Early diesel buses could not climb the hills – electric buses using overhead electric lines were needed. Note that one of the reasons BYD cried “Foul” to Los Angeles’ testing of their buses was that the hills were to steep. According to LA Times 20 May 18: But largely unbeknownst to the public, BYD’s electric buses are contending with a record of poor performance and mechanical problems. A Times investigation found its buses stalled on hills, required service calls much more frequently than older buses and had unpredictable driving ranges below advertised distances, which were impaired by the heat, the cold or the way drivers braked. … The first five buses BYD sent to Los Angeles Metro were pulled off the road after less than five months of service. Internal emails and other agency records show that agency staff called them “unsuitable,” poorly made and unreliable for more than 100 miles. Despite strong concerns from its own staff about the quality and reliability of the company’s vehicles, the transit agency awarded BYD tens of millions of dollars more in public contracts. …… Read more »

We don’t use crappy BYD buses in King County. Proterra and New Flyer.

Ron, as Scott notes, the problem is BYD, not Proterra or New Flyer. Buy North American!! The job you save may be your own. 😉
Seriously, though, both the primarily American (with some German investment) Proterra and primarily Canadian (with some Brazilian investment) New Flyer have complicated ownership structures, but they seem to be more North American than the primarily Chinese BYD. And their buses work better, which is a big plus. I hope Europe continues to source their electric buses from Europe, not China. It would be marginally different if the Chinese company was building a world class product, but they are not even close to doing so.

goals can be exceeded

Hopefully they get rid of the 3600 series coaches. They are out dated and cause knee problems for drivers that use them on hills.

We have the cheapest and greenest electricity here in WA. We only have one coal fired power plant, and it is scheduled to close.

We love our electric trolley buses here, and we love trees.
What it must cost to constantly keep the branches out of the wires, only to miss-shape the tree forever is another plus for battery buses.
I just hope some common sense is used where they test them, there are some very challenging hills they have no business sending an articulated coach up or down.

You should probably mention this is in Seattle, WA. There are too many “King Counties” in the US.

They should have buses that can operate on trolley mode and the disconnect and run on the batteries

I don’t know if they still use them, but for a while they had trolley + CNG buses. They were used in a route including a tunnel, to minimize fumes in the tunnel. If the poles came off the wire, they were lowered and the route continued on CNG.
Note some trials are being done somewhere of combination pantograph & battery buses. ( I think I read about iton IEVs)

Seattle was the jurisdiction that early on bought battery electric hybrid buses that had re-gen capacity for routes with a lot of stop-start’ing. On the right routes, the hybrid buses used 20-25% less fuel than a standard bus. So King County put them on a long distance route with very little stopping or starting and complained that they weren’t saving them any money. That was years ago, but it still rankles.