As many readers probably know, it’s been widely announced and reported that King County has decided to replace the existing trolleybus fleet with a new fleet of trolleybuses, each of which will include modern features commonplace in other trolleybus fleets worldwide, including low-floor boarding and the ability to travel off-wire for limited distances. This decision followed an independent report comparing trolleys to modified diesel-electric hybrids (geared down for hill climbing) and a public open house, and was finalized two weeks ago with the unanimous adoption of the 2012 King County budget. The new trolleybuses will start to enter service in 2014, and the old ones will be phased out as that happens.
Metro will now move forward with procuring the buses, a process that involves drawing up a specification for each of the two different models (40′ and 60′), creating a detailed purchase contract, and bidding it out. Metro will probably request bids in the spring of next year, perhaps with a prototype seen 18 months after that. As I detailed in a previous post, the 40′ coaches will be replaced in the same quantity (100), but four fewer 60′ coaches (55) will be purchased, as Metro expects to be able to obtain more platform hours out of each new 60′ coach compared to its unreliable Breda counterpart. The fleet size is chosen to maintain the existing number of platform hours delivered; i.e. it assumes the trolleybus network will remain the same size.
There will be no public meeting regarding the design of this bus prior to asking for bids, so if you have any thoughts on the matter, you should email them to the community outreach contact for this project, Ashley Deforest. One of the perks of being an STB blogger is that I get to write my opinions (not to mention my silly mistakes) across the sky, so here’s what I’d like to see in these new trolleybuses, after the jump.