17 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: 2018 Battery Bus Showcase”

  1. Thanks for this one, Oran. A lot here, and this is just the beginning. Would like to get into battery technology itself- like both how a battery is made, and how it works. Curious about the materials- and where they come from and the care they need, and how to dispose of them.

    Would also like to know about major difference I see in operating conditions between Los Angeles (and the rest of the planet’s surface) and Seattle. We won’t be able to see the horizon ’til we wire the Route 7 to Ellensburg. How far has San Francisco gotten with its battery program?


    Very glad LA has discovered the need to educate and train drivers as to how to operate their buses for max battery life. Can we get them to send somebody up here, or will we have to send trainees down there?

    Also, by the time the presenter is retirement age, what else will have been developed? Get the feeling that the pantographs will go the way of the trolley poles before then. And also…..will California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia be the same subarea?

    Also curious. Been awhile since I checked…do patent drawings still have to be engraved like this to be valid?


    Would’ve liked to be around at this stage of trolleybus development (No, I wasn’t! Goldurnit, back when I was 66 we had some respect!)


  2. Just a quick thought: I wonder if battery-life could be a successful public argument for reserved transit lanes. Not logic here…just thinking that since new generation of voters have grown able to keyboard before they can talk, could have some resonance.


  3. 1) Thanks guys for posting about the electric bus presentations. Big supporter of electric buses.

    2) Moving on, my key factor in voting for or against I-1631 is going to be if the money can fund local transits growth & electrification efforts or not. If there’s a way for folks stuck in suburban counties to fund transit growth plans without a divisive local referendum (I remember too well how Community Transit Prop 1 was a tough fight requiring a lot of mudslinging); cool.

    1. Joe, I think that best move to prevent any situation to become malevolently divisive is to early on find something that both sides agree on, and work from there. Like figuring out a way to work with existing divisions so everybody benefits. For-Instance:

      People in wider-spread more car-oriented areas might favor measures to move buses faster if they can be shown that each of these buses can at least get thirty or forty cars- in truth usually more- out of the way of the car-dependent voters’ own cars. Making fewer buses possible.

      So perhaps buses headed for centers, say, Downtown Seattle, or Bellevue, can be given reserved lanes with relatively few stops. Best if these lanes are placed at the center of the road, rather than right lane. So they and Business Access and right turns don’t have to fight each other.

      Stations can be accessed by car having traffic beside them held at red lights, while buses cross lanes from road center to stops on the right, far-side of the intersection. At first operate these moves on the slow side, with police officers attending, until everybody gets used to the drill.

      And from then on, signal never fully automatic, but run by a human controller with a camera feed and a hand-switch. Anyway, just an example of the mind-set governing the project from the beginning. Immediate priority is always to get the discussion swiftly to practical and away from ideological or symbolic.

      Sound right, Joe? Come on! Somebody else comment or Martin will shove me onto Page 2 and jam a chair under the door knob! Never could make WordPress work. And Gutenberg is busy with Vasttrafik tramway schedules in Guteborg.


      1. Well, really BUSES having the cars to their right held beside them while they diagonal across the intersection from left to right. Have seen this done overseas, but forget where. Pretty sure someplace where car-driver training is intense, a license hard to get, and every rule expensive to break. But on the other hand, we Americans incline to doing right without orders, unless seriously ticked off. An American worker slacking off is on strike.


  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCFtjt-9Sfc


    This is why it’s important to keep immigrants out of America. Unless they are from Norway. But here is what FOX news and is Base want to know: “That’s all very well, Mr. Tesla. BUT! If you’re so smart and Croatia isn’t one of those seven countries like Somalia….

    1. Create an electric car that actually throws sparks so Americans can tell if it’s really electric and not just a FAKE-ELECTRIC (it’s got a gas engine!) Prius.

    2. Put an “M” on its hood that looks like the skull of a cow.

    3. Steal the patent for those tubes with cans in them that French post offices use to shoot letters all over town. And next April 1, take one of your cars out of its space ship and put those interurban people in their place by stuffing it in a can and shooting it through a tube to the zeppelin mast on top of the Empire State Building if it is actually in Chicago like Mayor Rahm Emmanuel says it is.

    Because before ICE deports you, America needs a confession: “Are you any ElonZAAAAAAPPPPP!”

    MD (Sizzle-poof!) OK, somebody else comment before this whole subarea goes dark.

  5. I’ve always been a big fan of trolleybuses (my first project at Seattle Metro 40 years ago), but now I have to wonder if battery electric buses would be as good or better on some trolleybus routes, such as those w/o steep hills. I predict no new trolleybus routes (wire expansion), and not rebuilding some routes when the current overhead ages out.

    1. I like them too. They add to the local charm. I think for routes to Queen Anne, and some E-W routes, there’ll be new wire just due to the hills if nothing.

    2. SDOT has been looking at that, whether to order trolleybuses or battery buses for Roosevelt RapidRide, depending on what’s available closer to opening.

      1. Sounds like smart planning. Route 7 Rapid Ride may also be a candidate for battery buses, with charging stations at north and south termini. RR buses seem to be scheduled for longer recovery times, which would facilitate terminal charging.

  6. Can someone explain to me, for the love of god, why the UW alignment is at Husky Stadium instead of under the vista? That would cut the walk time at least 30% to campus. Here’s what I know:

    – EM waves/drilling would’ve disturbed experiments
    – It was important to the university to serve the medical center/the stadium
    – The triangle parking lot was important

    Yet we still moved a bunch of equipment anyways into the new MolES building, we could’ve tunneled under Montlake/Pacific to serve the stadium/medical center, respectively, and why do the regents care about a parking lot when they could’ve got a freaking light rail station instead?

    This decision still makes me mad to this day. The walk from Red Square to both stations is dumbly around the same (10 minutes).

    Also, why didn’t they build the pedestrian tunnel across montlake like they planned? Why not one to the med center as well?

    1. Many of us asked why no connections to the upper-level Mezzanine and were pooh-poohed by ST boosters. “It would be too expensive.” “It would disrupt traffic on Montlake.” “UW won’t allow it.”

      All those are true, but what we have now is the majority of riders accessing the station four levels above the platforms, and spending four to ten minutes navigating the mess.

      And hospital users get rained on completely unnecessarily.

    2. My understanding is that the UW didn’t want it there, for security reasons. I’m sure if ST tried, they could have worked out some sort of agreement (joint security that extended beyond just the station) but they didn’t. They just gave up, and picked the worst possible place for that station. It is the least used of the three sides. The only time you get significant number of people on that side is when there is an event in the stadium. Not only does that happen rarely, but cops handle the traffic, and they wave pedestrians across. So just putting it to the north (at the campus) or the southwest (by the hospital) would have been a huge improvement.

      But putting it underneath would have been best. There already is a tunnel from there to the hospital, which means you would only need a couple short tunnels (one north to the campus, another east to the stadium). Instead you have hundreds of riders going up and over, to access a station that is deep underground. It really is nuts. Oh well. At least they built solid escalators along with stairs for those rare occasions when the escalators break down, right?

      1. UW is just mental. This will be the dunkirk of transit advocates. THIS was where we should’ve pushed. Now we’ve screwed over the 70 000 people strong UW community for the rest of time.

  7. Very interesting videos. They make it quite clear how much planning and capital investment is needed to convert a diesel bus fleet to all battery-electric. There are also indications that at the moment battery buses may not be as efficient or productive as conventional buses (diesel or trolley).

    As far as Seattle is concerned, the focus is on replacing diesels and diesel-hybrids. This seems to be a tremendous leap of political will, where “green” targets (which I share) override potential economic or operational shortcomings. Some of the promises of ever-lower costs and ever-better performance seem to derive from manufacturer salesmanship rather than hard headed engineers.

    There is still a role for trolleybuses, especially on hilly and heavy duty routes. At the moment they have greater productivity than BEBs, as they don’t require regular downtime for 10-15 minute charging breaks. The availability of instant mains power will always have an advantage over schlepping two tons of batteries up Queen Anne! Greater flexibility is possible through the adoption of the battery-trolleybus with In Motion Charging. Seattle’s fleet already has IMC but chose only limited battery range for diversions only. But systems in Europe are buying trolleybuses with up to 20 mile off-wire range.

  8. The video camera for Roosevelt Station has been down for,two months now. Two solid months with NO video coverage at all.

    Is it just me, or does this loss of coverage and transparency appear to coincide with the fact that they haven’t finished their concrete work like they were supposed to by the end of May? Are they now behind schedule and dealing with it by just shutting of the cameras so the public doesn’t know?

    Two months of downtime is an awful long time to be down for something like relocation. It has to be intentional on somebodies part. The question is, “why?”

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