King County Metro Transit is preparing to add several hundred new buses to its fleet over the next few months.
It’s welcome news for most regular Metro riders, who know there are a lot of old buses still running on the streets of King County.
Budget pressure, mostly from the 2008 recession, forced Metro to hold off on any bus purchases the last few years. But now that Seattle voters have passed new taxes to fund more bus service, the agency can’t wait any longer.
Over the next year Metro said it will add 174 all-electric trolley buses and 105 hybrid buses to the fleet. All of the hybrid buses and 64 of the trolleys will be 60-foot long and bend in the middle.
Twenty of the hybrids will be dedicated to the RapidRide C and D lines, which are slated to be split up next year, sending them to South Lake Union and Pioneer Square respectively. These new buses, expected to be delivered early next year, will make that split possible.
The other 85 hybrids will replace buses in Metro’s fleet that are over 15 years old and lack air conditioning. Metro spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok says these new buses will be delivered by November 2016 and will be equipped with three doors for faster unloading of passengers.
Meanwhile testing continues on Metro’s new fleet of trolley buses.
Back in November, KING 5 went along on a test run and now Metro expects the 40-foot trolleys to start going into service within the next month. The first 60-foot articulated trolley arrived in Seattle a few weeks ago and just started doing test runs on the streets of Seattle.
These will be Metro’s first trolley buses to have low floors, a wheelchair ramp (instead of a lift), air conditioning and a battery pack that will allow them to operate off-wire for up to 3 miles.