Trolleybuses returning to Atlantic Base, by Oran

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other key elements, like off-wire capability and the newer trolley technology that would be used, instead of the outdated Breda technology currently running on a few routes.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.

113 Replies to “Early Study Findings Show Good News for Trolleys”

    1. Well I am not because I don’t work at that shit hole base anyways. You people are nuts. You want metro to come up with the money for these new trolleys right now is a joke. this is going to cut in fixing the schedules. We can save more money with hybrids. I hope new flyer works out a deal. Metro really wants to get rid of these buses. Because you tree hugging Ballard people we can’t. Now we have to continue to pay for more training for drivers and mechanics and let’s not forget about the wire above. HELLO… We can save money buying hybrids metro can mix all the routes together saving time in deadheading costs. The world is screwed people it’s to late. Metro Buying a bunch of new trolleys is not going to make it better. What would make it better if these fake green people in this city would get out of their cars and get on the bus all the time. But no we can’t do that .

      1. All Ballards fault? Man, we Ballard tree huggers are getting screwed in eBus service then. The 44 blows.

        And besides, have you ever heard a hybrid doing the 44 while going up Market to 46th? It sounds like the world is even closer to coming to an end. I’m personally shocked a black hole doesn’t open up right inside the engine and swallow us whole.

      2. Sounds just like all those Metro mechanics years ago who told us, insisted, that wheelchair lifts were a terrible idea, couldn’t be done, impractical, ridiculously expensive, etc etc etc.


      3. Pfft, you should hear the Gilligs thundering up James St at 5 mph early Saturday mornings when all the downtown trolleys are dieselized. Like a combine harvester.

      4. The 4100’s are by far the best equipment for managing the steep hills of downtown. The hybrids are falling apart already. I have had to abandon our be pushed back to the base many more times in a hybrid this year then even a breda. The hybrids weren’t built for fuel economy either. They were built to operate duel mode in the tunnel. They are deisel hogs, noisy, and slow up inclines. Investing in better trolleys serves etter best interests of highly dense and very hilly neighborhoods in seattle. It isn’t a solution for the suburbs and sprawl.

      5. Man, talk about bringing back memories! Haven’t heard this level of transit analysis since I drove a 900 on the Route 4 past Harborview. Only difference is we didn’t have hybrids yet.

        It does get me thinking, though, now that everybody agrees we can’t afford public service anymore. Considering the percentage of passengers the trolley routes carry, I think I’ll organize a driver (and mechanic and supervisor)-owned cooperative and make King County a bid for all the electric service. A lot of the old-timers here in Ballard are used to cooperatives, from the fishing and farming days.

        And logging, too, before we cut down all the trees for power poles.

        Since the contract will specify that we get to keep all the fare revenue we generate, there probably won’t be enough left for the rest of Metro to run hybrids, so the rest of the system will have to make do with used Shuttle Express vans. Like talk radio always says, redistributing wealth is bad for character.

        Suspect a lot of resentment could be cured by decent instruction. I don’t know how well Metro is training its trolleydrivers now. We had some excellent instructors, all of whom are retired. The co-op might be lucky enough to get some of them to come back. If people get tired of those beat-up vans, they can always fill out an application with us.

        Mark Dublin

      6. The Hybrids with the Cat C-9 are gas guzzlers, the ones with the cummins ISL or ISM are actually fairly fuel efficent (which is what the origonal 2599 had, but was later requipped until its fire). It takes extra work, extra effort, and extra money to operate a trolleycoach system. That being said, there is virtually no street level noise, pollution, and they are fairly well insulated from rising fossil fuel prices, atleast around here. Theres no reason not to expand the system to cover more routes, and bring it back to its 1940s size. The larger the system the more economical it will be, because the overhead costs cited by the metro audit are there, and would be marginally diffrent to cover a larger system.

      7. Speaking as a qualified Motorcoach Operator and Bus Driver, Cat engines are crap. My company acquired some 2006 Blue Bird Excel 102’s with Cat’s and they are breaking down all the time. Crappiest buses ever. Boss wised up and boght us some 1997 New Flyer D40LF’s with Cummins engines and they are AMAZING after the Blue Bombs.

        Of course, give me an MCI D4500 with a good ol Detroit Diesel 60 series and I am a happy driver.

      8. Have you seen oil prices lately? Keep in mind any “savings” would come from cutting Power crews since much of the extra cost of trolleys is to maintain the overhead. That money will be spent on diesel.

        Do you really want to shift money spent locally on skilled and high paying jobs with benefits towards a supposedly lower cost diesel hybrid option that sends a large chunk of operating costs out of the region for diesel?

        Think about it. Any “savings” are likely to disappear as oil prices march higher.

  1. Very glad to see this, but not really surprised. Main thing now for those of us who like trolleybuses is to take advantage of a once-in-decades opportunity.

    1. Let’s assemble a design team including trolley drivers and mechanics from ATU Local 587 to make sure the new fleet is as good to drive and as easy to maintain as possible.

    2. Let’s try to get the new buses manufactured as close to Seattle as possible- Portland Ironworks, currently building streetcars in Clackamas, would be good.

    3. Let’s do some research into technical advances, both in vehicles and in traction power overhead- it would be good not to have to slow for special work after 2012.

    4. And let’s work politically to get our trolley fleet lane and signal priority to maximize return on the investment.

    County executive’s acceptance of offwire capability is best part of the press release.

    Mark Dublin

      1. Yep. Nothing like being woken early on a weekend morning by the sound of a diesel bus trying to make it up W Olympic Pl. I pity those on steep hills.

    1. I doubt we’ll get them manufactured locally, I’d be surprised if anyone could beat New Flyer on the price.

      The things I’d like to see: 2+1 seating on the 40′ coaches and three doors on the 60′ coaches. Those 40′ routes are standing room only at peak times so we might as well optimize the coaches for standees, and those 60′ routes have enough on-offs to justify an extra door.

      That said, I’m just over the moon that we get to keep the ETBs at all.

      1. Do not re-invent the wheel.

        Please buy “off-the-shelf”. Please!


        Boeing LRV

        Breda Duo-Busses (“Locally assembled” in Issaquah, yes, but Lamar, Colorado’s Neoplan USA had a better product.)

        In their defense, if Portland Ironworks is willing to work very closely with Shkoda, who have mucho ETB experience, then they might be a suitable candidate.

      2. If your comment was directed at my suggestions, those are both common options on the relevant New Flyer models. 2+1 seating probably costs less, in fact. All the 60′ New Flyers can have up to four doors from the factory.

      3. Remember, Skoda worked with Neoplan to install electrical equipment in some AN440LFs for boston. The coaches were built in colorado, and shipped to the Czeck Republic for equipment install and testing, than shipped back. If Skoda electrics were used, you could buy bodies from gillig, and on their way north, the electrical could be installed in milwaukee, OR and the coach shipped to seattle. Of course gillig dosent build Artics, so that would have to be NewFlyer or NABI to do that work.

    2. as long as the 60’+ ETBs can negotiate all of the current routes … why bother getting any 40′ ETBs? The Trolleybus lines are some of the busiest in the city … and I am tired of having crush loads up the hills.

      1. They can’t. For one thing, there’s an evil turnback loop at the south end of the 2 that would be completely impassable to any artic, diesel or electric. I’m pretty sure if Metro could run Bredas on those routes they would, but a lot of the streets in Queen Anne and Capitol Hill are pokey and narrow. Getting an artic through them would not be fun.

        Long term, the Queen Anne-Belltown-Downtown-Jackson corridor needs more capacity than busses can provide. Having visited Tacoma and seen a center running, partially separated, signal-prioritized streetcar in action, I’m more sold than ever on a 1st Ave streetcar.

      2. Bruce – Speak of what you know.

        Artics can go any where a 40ftr can. They have a tighter turning radius.

        Artics HAVE operated thru the Madrona Park loop on the end of the 2.

        The old 4000-series MAN artic trolleys operated on the 1/36, 2/13, the 14, and I even saw one go up James Street once on a 4.

        Just because they didn’t do it regularly, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done.

      3. Interesting, I’d like to see it done. I still think driving an artic on those routes would suck, and the neighbors away from the main arterials wouldn’t like it.

      4. Why do you have to see it done?

        It’s been done by professional bus drivers. Isn’t that good enough?

      5. Zed –

        The MANs with a steering third axle actually “kicked” the rear end out while turning, which kept the third axle pretty much in line with the second axle while turning.

        An artic with a non-steering third axle will actually turn a little bit tighter, because the third axle will turn inside of the second axle.

      6. I never said I “had” to see it done. I said I would like to see it because it would be interesting.

      7. “Artics can go any where a 40ftr can. They have a tighter turning radius.”

        They can go anywhere a 40 foot coach can, but if you screw up and get stuck, they CAN’T back up while in a tight turn. The end of the 14 in Mount Baker is a good example. If you don’t negotiate that turnback perfectly, you’ll end up staring at a fire hydrant. Do that in a 40′ coach and you can carefully back up and renegotiate the turn. Do that in a Breda and you’re screwed. The mechanics regularly run Bredas out the 14 wire to Mount baker but the ones I’ve spoken to are *VERY* careful not to go out to the 14 terminal.

    3. Good comments all, Mark, but the local manufacture part won’t happen in total. Maybe get one manufacturer to build the body and chassis and then get an electric traction system specialist to design and install the powerplant. Say, isn’t that sorta what Metro did with the Gilligs, except they just reused the old powerplants straight out of the Gremlins? Or maybe a good motorcoach manufacturer could be tempted by a large order to build ETBs for us. But again, probably not a local. I know PACCAR built buses back in the WWII era, so maybe anything is possible.

    4. Mark,

      Kudos for #’s 1, 3 and 4.

      #2 IS INSANE! Buy these buses in Canada. They still know how to build ETB’s.

    1. YES! The south end of the 48, the 11, the 27 and the north end of the 60 are immediate candidates.
      This program should be focused on expansion of route miles, number of passengers carried, reduced seating capacity of the coaches (single seats in the fronts), and most importantly, reserved lanes on arterials for these frequently operating buses.
      And let us not be too sanguine about this news – we’ve almost lost the electrics twice in my lifetime. It could happen again, as the petrovoars want us to be oil powered everywhere to maximize their profits.

      1. I wouldn’t waste time on the 27, it’s a pretty poorly performing route, and the First Hill Streetcar will steal the best part of its walkshed in a few years. I wouldn’t do the 60 either, as the FHSC will almost certainly cause a restructure or truncation on that route. I’d rather do the 8, or add wire for Martin’s Ranier Valley proposal.

      2. The 8 would be a better candidate … I think the only spot that would need the addition of OCS is Denny Way …

      3. Route 11 was one of the candidates for electrification in the 80’s. However, those who lived at the end of the line (Madison Park) opposed it due to visual pollution (wires). Same with the 15/18, though in that case, the wires would not gone down to the terminals, but ended at NW. 85th St.

      4. @Warren: I’ve been housesitting for a friend who lives near the northern terminal of the 17, and I don’t understand how any of these folks can stand having a diesel artic rolling through their otherwise quiet neighborhood every night until nearly 1 a.m. I’d take a whisper-quiet ETB over that any day. It amazes me that anyone would think the visual pollution of a few overhead wires is worse than the aural and environmental pollution of diesels. Go figure.

      5. Interesting note that the wire loop in the ID that goes on Weller was meant to be the turnaround for the electrified 15/18.

      6. The 11 needs to be repositioned as a major route. 15 minutes daytime, 30 evening. That’s one reason to electrify it. There has been a lot of growth in Madison Valley but it still has 1980s bus service. It could be one of the great grid routes if only they’d add frequency.

        (I used to support an all-Madison route but I’m less inclined for two reasons. 1. The bow tie at 12th & Madison which makes the 2 and 12 turn two extra times. 2. I think more people are going from East Madison to midtown rather than East Madison to the office/government district.)

      7. @MikeOrr…the bowtie is only for Route 2, and I don’t know why a transit-only signal can’t someday be installed to allow the bus to stay on Union…there is plenty of ROW to do it. As for an all-Madison bus, I’m all for it if all connecting grid services run at high frequency. Once ULink opens we’ll need fewer bus services on Pike-Pine, and I don’t see why we can’t convert the 11 to a Sound to Lake bus. The 12 isn’t terribly important anyway, and at the risk of sounding crazy I would like to see it eventually combine with the 36 to create a new cross-town service (19th Ave E, 12th Ave, Beacon Hill, Othello) and push more CBD trips to Link.

      8. I think they should get rid of the 12. No reason to have north-south-Downtown service that’s four block on either side from other north-south-Downtown service. That would free up a lot of bus hours for other routes, like the 11.

      9. I assume you’re talking about truncating it at Union. The First Hill turnback routing of the 12 performs very well, and there would be a big hole in the transit coverage of downtown and First Hill without it.

      10. Like Mike Orr, I’m cool to the idea of all-Madison 11. One U-Link opens, the most sensible station to serve the Madison Valley is CHS @ Broadway & John. The turnback routing of the 12 fills up well at rush hour already; if you put the MV commuters on there you’ll get overloads on First Hill.

        If the 49 is axed, Pike St will lose a lot of local service. It would make sense to run the 11 east up Pike, and north up Broadway. That serves the south part of the Western Slope and the bus will empty out, then you pick up MV commuters at CHS and go east like the 8. Those commuters get a fast two-seat ride or slower one-seat ride, vs a slow one-seat ride.

      11. I’m not sure duplicating the 8 is the best use of the 11’s time. This is the best argument for splitting the 8.

        Imagine if 15th service was provided by a north-south route that sidles over to 12th or 14th at Madison, and the present 11 was through-routed with the present 12.

      12. This would only duplicate part of the 8. If you run it down Pike to Madison you duplicate the 10, and down Madison you duplicate the 12. I like duplicating the 8 most of all, as you’re maximizing the utility of the Capitol Hill station.

      13. If the 8 gets split, though, there’s no reason to duplicate the 8 up to what would be the terminus of the Denny Way line. And there are reasons to do away with the 10 or 12 entirely (15th service provided by a 12th route, 19th service redundant with service on 15th and 23rd).

      14. The 12 up 19th to Interlaken is already redundant. I would axe it tomorrow if I could. The 12 up to Union is essential. Routing the 11 up Madison duplicates the same number of miles as routing it along John to Madison & MLK. Unlike the Madison routing, it provides local service between two Link stations in a major corridor (Pike/Broadway) that will almost certainly lose service when the 49 goes away. I don’t see how the Madison route can top that.

  2. This is indeed good news. I hope this doesn’t get derailed (no punn) and we end up with a nice new ETB fleet and a plan is assembled to repair any major issues with the overhead system.


    Anyone looking for important routes to trolley-ize should probably start with the link above. The only routes that could be cheaply electrified are the 11, the south section of the 48 (if it were split) and the west section of the 8 (if it were split).

    Looking at the rest, a bunch of them are freeway busses (41, 101, 150, 550, 545), reaaally long and impractically expensive (5, 120, 358), soon to be gutted by Link (49, 7x except 75), really terribly designed (75), isolated from the rest of the system (174/now RR A, 180). The only one that might be done is the 15 (RapidRide C to be) and the 18.

    1. Seems to me, as Link grows, we should use ETB’s on shorter routes that circulate and feed traffic to rail. So, routes like the 39 (ya, ya, it’s my route) could be looked at.

      1. Agreed. Once the bus network layout north of the U-District is stabilized after North Link opens, the 6x and 7x busses might be good candidates.

      2. Charles,

        There’s a fundamental problem with “circulate and feed traffic to rail”: it’s owned by a different company.

        Yes, yes, “let them eat cake” (get an ORCA card). But that’s available now, and how many people transfer from the 7 to Link at Mt. Baker? How many from the 36 or 38 at Beacon Hill? The 60, yes, because it down’t go downtown. But overall, few.

        More will when Link reaches UW, certainly. But other than the 7X’s in northeast Seattle, Link is NOT going to “restructure” bus service very much. Remember, it’s only going to add six more stations in Seattle, and the one at Rainier and I-90 is mostly going to transfer between East side services and the Rainier/Central District corridor. Nobody is going to ride the 4 south to Rainier station to get to downtown.

        Those six new stations will enormously benefit people who can walk to them, but south of Roosevelt most people will just stay on their bus and ride on downtown.

        The delay to de-board, descend or ascend to the station, and wait half a headway will pretty much eat up the time saved over just staying on the bus.

      3. That’s largely because Metro and ST muffed lots of things in the Ranier Valley, and it’s important to make sure that doesn’t happen again. The much-lamented Mount Baker TC ped connectivity is one of the major barriers to transfers. Another is Metro’s failure to restructure service to capitalize on Central Link.

        This is partly why I mentioned the Ranier Valley mobility proposal previously, as it addresses the 38 and the 36. This piece addresses the 4, and why it, too is a bad design, and should probably be axed in favor of doubling service on the 3. More generally, Link is an express service, and people already within convenient local service distance of the city center and other destinations don’t need an express as much as people living in Columbia City and points south, or UW and points north. That’s why Metro’s failure to provide frequent E-W service in the RV is so upsetting.

        Saying it’s “only” six stations is somewhat misleading, too. The five stations for U Link and North Link will probably triple the system’s ridership, and cause at least two major routes (41 & 49) to be axed, and the 66 and 7xs to be truncated freeing up a huge number of service hours in the west subarea.

        Once the busses are out of the tunnel and ST can start running reliable and punctual service, closely-timed transfers for neighborhood busses originating in NE Seattle will be possible, as will the long-hoped-for splitting of the 44, making it a purely E-W route from Crown Hill to Laurelhurst.

        The problem is that you’re evaluating the most marginal segment of Link in isolation, compounded by poor decisions from Metro and ST. Link won’t begin to hit its stride until it gets to Bellevue and Northgate, and we need to lean on ST and Metro to get things like transfers and ped access right in future.

    2. I don’t think anyone uses “7x” to include the 75.

      The 5, 120, and 358 are kinda freeway buses too since they travel freeway-like segments on Aurora and the West Seattle Bridge. Come to think of it, the 15 and 18 travel a similar segment on 15th Ave W.

      Electrification of the 11 is a really good idea, especially since it could take a more central role after reorganization of Cap Hill service once Link and the First Hill Streetcar open.

      1. The 120 are the 358 certainly aren’t great candidates, as they’re supposed to be limited-stop expresses, and presumably the 358 will be the subject of stop reductions when it gets the RapidRide treatment. The 120 will, I hope, be a RapidRide corridor at some point in the future, as it’s basically SW Seattle’s 358. The 5 is much more of a local bus, but it would require a huge amount of wire that wouldn’t be shared with anything else outside of downtown.

      2. It’s just so depressing that there used to be OCS on the 5, 15 and 18 routes, and they tore it down. I know they had legitimate reasons, but I can’t help but think that if they’d left at least some of that infrastructure in place, even if they didn’t maintain it, re-electrifying these routes wouldn’t be such a pipe dream today.

      3. Routes 5 and 358 would both be good candidates, even though they cross the Aurora bridge. Lots of wire would be needed, but with all Rt. 5 trips going to Shoreline in the future, and Rt. 358 becoming RapidRide and continuing to gain frequency, both make tons of sense. Frequent, straight, high-ridership.

      4. The 120 and 358 aren’t candidates. They are in line for being replaced with the weinermobiles.

      5. I’m sure NFI would build you an electric weinermobile. those lines are ideal for trolleycoaches, you’d have to build some turnbacks but with the high frequency over the entire span of service…

      6. Not really. Rapid Ride is designed to be an express service with 1/2 mile stop spacing and higher travel speeds. None of those routes have big hills. They play to none of the strengths of trolleys.

      7. If the 5 is rerouted along Dexter, then it would become a much more sensible candidate for electrification…

      8. I’ve always wondered why the 5 was on Aurora. It seems a much better fit for local Fremont service, and would fill a dead spot. Aurora has plenty of service between the 358 and 16.

      9. I could see the 44 becoming a RapidRide ETB route. Those buses would look so cool…

      10. Bruce –

        The 358 is an excellent candidate for electrification.

        The only “express” section of the route is between downtown and the aurora bridge, where it does skip quite a few flagged stop. On Aurora, as the sole route, it stops about every five blocks.

        The speed limit on aurora is 40mph. The max speed of our trolleys is about 42mph, so, that’s not an issue.

        We ran trolleys over the Aurora Bridge from 1940-1963, so we know the bridge can support the overhead. A specific subset of the first generation trolleys ordered in 1940 had a different rear end ratio that allowed them to reach speeds in excess of 50mph. They were rarely used on hilly routes.

        Ultimately, trolleys are more economical the more buses you run under the wire, so we should be targeting frequent, busy routes for electrification. The distance from Jackson St to Aurora Vill is about 12 miles. The distance from Virginia Street to 62/Prentice on the 7 is nearly ten miles. An electrified 358 wouldn’t be substantially longer than the current longest route.

      11. I wouldn’t describe it as low-hanging fruit either. It’s not hilly, doesn’t have frequent stops, requires miles of wire, and it’s on a loud state highway so there’s no noise benefit. Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t use a trolley, but in a severely constrained funding environment, it’s hard to justify. I would rather do the 8 or the 11 or split the 48 and do the south part of that.

        To be clear, I would love nothing more to electrify most of the non-freeway routes in Seattle, including express wire for the express routes, but that’s just not on the cards.

      12. Put put some numbers on that, here are the approximate number of miles of additional wire I figure you need to add, along with the ’09 ridership, and at the end, the ratio of thousands of riders per wire-mile:

        48 including existing wire from the 4 and 43: ~7 miles, 14k riders, 2.0
        11, including exiting wire from the 10: ~2 miles, 3.3k riders, 1.65
        15 + 18 from 1st & Mercer: ~9 miles, 12k riders, 1.3
        358 from 3rd & Wall: ~11.5 miles, 10k riders, 0.85
        5 from 3rd & Wall: ~13.5 miles, 7k riders, 0.52
        8: 9 miles, 3k riders, 0.33

        Some caveats: This data is old and thus understates the ridership on the 8, plus that bus will become much more important once U-Link opens and the MLK corridor starts to fill in; it’s really worth investing in. I also realize the 11 is through-routed, so electrifying it would add layover costs or require some creative restructuring.

        That said, it should be reasonably obvious that the 48 is the first major target in any electrification project, followed by the 11, if possible.

      13. Gordon: I’d imagine the tails of the 26/28 get merged into a single Broadview-Greenwood-Fremont-Wallingford-Green Lake route.

        KH: “The speed limit on aurora is 40mph.” What segment? If that’s the limit on the Aurora Bridge, no one follows it to my knowledge. I remember once I was in a car with my mom, and we were a few MPH over the speed limit and still being passed. Aurora south of Winona is too freeway-like, period.

        Bruce: The 11 really should be decoupled from the 125 at some point. Aside from the obstacles to electrification of the 11, adjusting 125 schedules to better align with 120 schedules will have spillover effects on 11 scheduling. Perhaps if the 11 is made all-Madison in the future, it’ll replace the 12 as the 10’s through-route partner at some point.

      14. Morgan –

        The speed limit on Aurora Ave, from the Battery Street tunnel north is 40mph. I commute via Aurora and the viaduct daily, normally at a comfortable “five over.”

        Your perception of the speed is irrelevant to the discussion of trolleys on the 358. The speed limit is 40mph, which trolleys are more than capable of doing.

      15. Re the 26/28, I think the more sensible changes would be:

        – Reroute the 26 over the University Bridge and down Eastlake or Fairview. (Hypothetically, this could even replace the 70…)

        – Link the Leary segment of the 28 with the Fremont/U-District/Sand Point segment of the 30, also replacing the 46, to create a single route from the U-District to Ballard via Leary. (This would omit the 8th Ave part of the 28.)

        – Link the 8th Ave segment of the 28 with the Fremont/LQA part of the 30.

        But I like grids. ;)

      16. The 70 is already close to capacity (hence the interest in a U-Line streetcar). It runs every 12 minutes mid-day and 10 minutes on peak, and those busses fill up, although not as bad as the Queen Anne trolleys. You can’t load up that route any more.

        If you want an express to Latona, move the 316 down from its current exit to 45th St.

      17. Well, if the 5 moves off Aurora and the 358 is converted to RapidRide, it’s probably moot anyway. Electrifying a RapidRide route limits interoperability even more than the special buses themselves do.

        Part of the reason for potentially moving the 5 off Aurora is to replace the mess of routes that cross the Fremont Bridge now. So the 30 and 31 would be revised/split as well. How that would happen I don’t know.

        I’ve tossed around an idea for extending the current 34th/40th leg of the 30/31 up to Ballard along Leary Way. I don’t know what to do with the legs of the 30 and 31 south of the Ship Canal, but it might involve changes to the 17.

        The 28/26 loop makes sense to me as a simple way to at least get closer to a grid.

  4. For me, I will greatly miss the electric Breda bendys. For some reason, they scream Seattle. High floor, clear windows, three BIG doors, a great ride quality, a really funky look, very well kept (unlike San Fran’s eBendys), and that old comfortable bus smell. They seem to be part of the old, weird Seattle history that is slowly gentrifying.

    Saying that takes me back another step. When I was a kid, my mom would drop me off at the Shoreline P&R and I’d take the 301 to Downtown Seattle so my dad and I could go to Mariners games. They’d have the Breda old dual-modes on the line. Slow, banging, and creaking in that old white and brown paint. I’d be the only person on board and the drivers were always really nice. It was always a hell of a time.

    Both those buses will always have a soft spot in my heart.

      1. Or the minimum-wage Breda assembly facility in Issaquah with dirt floors!

        (But, hey, it was in King County!!!)

  5. This is very good news. I find the ETB’s to be a much better transit solution in the city then diesel buses and their hybrid cousins. And as fuel prices increase the advantage of ETB’s should increase.

    Question: My impression is that the current fleet of ETB’s don’t use regenerative braking – true?

    And, if the new ETB’s have off-wire capability, does that also mean that they do have regenerative braking? Because it seems to me that the off-wire battery in a modern ETB could be used as a regenerative storage device in exactly the same manner as the regenerative battery in a standard hybrid.

    1. There’s certainly no technical reason why the new busses couldn’t have regen braking, although I can’t find an authoritative source saying that Vancouver’s E40LFs do have it. I don’t think our current fleet has regen.

    2. Our current fleet of ETBs does not have regenerative braking. Neither does Vancouver’s.

      But according the the Vancouver operator that demonstrated their ETB in Seattle, some of the newer ETBs do have regenerative braking, and even feed power back onto the wire.

  6. Yay! Trolleys are here to stay. Just hope they can buy more E60’s for complete and total electrification of the 36.

  7. Not that there’s anything wrong with the photo that heads this post, but I’d like to pimp this one which is a stunner, even tho’ the resolution is a bit low.

    1. Oh, and can I quibble with the use of the word “elasticity” in this post? I don’t see it in the news release, and it doesn’t really make sense; I think you mean variability. Metro’s demand for fuel is in fact highly inelastic, as they have to buy roughly the same amount of diesel every week.

      1. Or better yet, “volatility.” The price of diesel has exceeded pre-recession levels in the past week, the cost has risen $1.12 per gallon on the West Coast in the previous year. How much has the price of electricity changed over the same period?

  8. I’m all for the trolleys on inner city routes. But I’d still like a good response to an operator friend of mine’s complaint that when a trolley breaks down, the other trolleys on that street get stuck behind it.

    1. These trolleys, if they are purchased, will have battery off-wire capability like Vancouver’s. Better, in fact, as battery tech has come along since they bought theirs.

    2. Not true, unless the overhead is damaged during a dewirement.

      The poles can be pulled down so that other ETB’s can pass.

      1. I’ve been on a couple of busses that had to be pushed through downed wire. The Vancouver trolleys have a button the driver can push to retract the poles, so getting ’round those spots on battery would have been much faster than getting a push. I’ve also seen Bredas dead in an intersection downtown because they lost a pole; with a battery you could at least pull off to the side, I think.

        Which is not to disagree with your comment, but the battery feature will make life even better.

  9. I don’t understand what is so expensive about the overhead wire. Obviously there’s a lot more to it than I know, but the city is webbed with wire all over the place – above and below ground. Just seems odd that OCS wire should be much different…

    I’m also surprised that the operating cost of electric buses isn’t significantly better. Don’t diesel city buses average something like 5 mpg at best? Seems like ETBs should be kicking their asses at efficiency.

    1. ETBs do kick the asses of diesel buses, even hybrids, when it comes to efficiency.

      Here are the catches: the overhead wire and the electric distribution system do cost money to maintain, and at current fuel prices that does eat up the savings from cheaper, lower energy usage. The studies assume particular prices for diesel and electricity — when diesel goes up and electricity stays nearly flat, the advantages of electric power start becoming more obvious.

      Other catches: The ETBs cost more upfront. The studies generally assume that diesels will last just as long as ETB and will be the same amount of trouble to maintain — if you get a *decent* ETB it will last longer and cost less in maintenance, but this isn’t usually figured in. Given that Seattle’s last order *wasn’t* decent, well, sigh.

      Anyway, best of luck getting expansions to your electric trolleybus network. It’s well worth it, and likely the only way to avoid massive service cuts every time the diesel price jumps.

      1. avoid massive service cuts every time the diesel price jumps

        A jump in fuel costs nets Metro more in fare revenue than it costs in operating expense. Transit ridership soars and fuel isn’t a big portion of the operating costs for buses. It’s a fact confirmed by looking at the fiscal report from 2008. Metro even cites lower gas prices as one reason they had a larger than expected deficite the last two years. If gasoline goes back to $5/gallon Metro will be in even better shape now than 2008 because they’ve been buying futures and have more fuel efficient buses in the fleet than two years ago. And they’re moving over 20,000 people per day on Link.

      2. Brilliant. They buy futures in response to a spike in the cost of diesel in 2008 and because fuel prices fell from that peak they decide not to buy just as the price starts to take another steep rise. Sort of like buying fire insurance after your house burns down and then deciding that after a couple of years you haven’t had a fire so cancel.

  10. This is good news for me in several ways. I have the choice of riding the 10 or 11 daily–I always opt for the 10. Better ride, more comfortable coach. I live on Pine Street, overlooking both routes, and the noise impact of the 11’s, running the diesels, is MUCH greater than the quiet hum of the 10’s trolleys. I think the trolleys are a great option for our hilly in-city neighborhoods, and hope like all get-out that the choice is made to purchase new trolleys.

    I hope a new fleet purchase also includes fixing the “dead spots” currently affecting service, like just north of SAM on First Avenue, or as the bus turns on to Pine Street from Bellevue Avenue.

    Also, I wonder if it’s technically possible for low floor electrics? The one advantage to the 11 is the ease of boarding wheelchairs, walkers, and carts with the ramp.

    1. These trolleys will be low-floor New Flyers. Exactly like the D40LFs usually used on the 11, except electric. There’s not much that can be done about the dead spots, although the battery means that if the driver takes the dead spot too slow and stalls out, you aren’t up the creek.

      1. You’re putting the cart before the horse, Bruce.

        Other manufacturers have expressed interest in building the coaches.

        The 3600-series D40LFs come back with body damage when they run on “dieselized weekends.” Will an E40LF have enough clearance to do James St and Marion St will full standing loads on weekdays?

      2. I seriously hope if they do pick someone other than New Flyer it’s someone with a proven track record, so we don’t get another Breda disaster. Regardless, these coaches will be low-floor. That’s one of Metro’s conditions for the replacement.

Comments are closed.