Early results from Metro’s trolleybus replacement study bear good news for retaining electric trolley technology. According to a news release issued yesterday, trolleybuses would have the least environmental impact and the greatest degree of cost-effectivness overall:
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.”
More below the jump.
The trolley evaluation is an ongoing study to determine which kind of a bus would best replace the aging trolley fleet, put in service in 1979 and expected to retire by 2014. The options have since been narrowed down to two: new electric trolleybuses similar to those used by Vancouver’s TransLink or diesel-electric hybrids, similar to the ones Metro currently operates in the downtown tunnel.
The evaluation study takes it a step further than the Metro audit completed in 2009 which concluded that a hybrid fleet would save the agency $8.7 million a year over trolleybuses. According to the news release, the differential doesn’t go unnoticed in the study, but is qualified by the consideration of other factors, like the elasticity of operating costs to oil prices, and environmental benefits, which were absent from the audit.
I’m a bigger fan of trolleybuses than say, Martin or John, so I’m naturally critical of the audit, which does too much of a back-of-the-napkin job, in my opinion. The new study will take into consideration other key elements, like off-wire capability and the newer trolley technology that would be used, instead of the outdated Breda technology currently running on a few routes.
The study’s final report isn’t expected to be complete until late Spring. Until then, Metro will host an open house to allow the public to comment on the initial findings. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 19th, from 5 to 7pm at Plymouth Congregational Church. Comments can also be submitted online.