Everett’s new Proterra electric battery bus

Everett Transit, on the verge of a major network restructure, brought its first electric battery bus into service earlier this week. The bus, a 42-foot Proterra Catalyst E2, is identical to the newer generation of electric battery buses operated by Metro in Bellevue and has been one of the most popular electric models for the past several years. The bus can carry 31 seated passengers and about 18 standees, can handle grades of 10% at 40 miles per hour, and can run for 250 miles on a single charge (which takes 2.5 hours to complete). Similar Proterra buses have been making trial runs in Bellingham for the Whatcom Transportation Authority and a pair were recently delivered to Kitsap Transit and Pierce Transit.

The new bus is the first of four that will enter service by the end of the year and will primarily run on Route 7, the system’s flagship route that runs along Broadway and Evergreen Way—Everett’s two busiest transit corridors. It was funded by a $3.4 million Low or No Emission Vehicle grant awarded by the Federal Transit Administration in 2016 and matched by funds from the agency.

Everett plans to convert half of its 36-coach fleet to electric battery buses by 2022, doing so by replacing its oldest buses (a fleet of Orion V coaches from the mid-1990s) and downsizing the fleet size to save costs. Currently, the agency has a fleet of ten Gillig hybrid diesel-electric buses and 32 diesel-only coaches. Everett’s electricity is sourced from the Snohomish County PUD, whose current fuel mix is 98% carbon-free (the majority being hydroelectric, followed by nuclear) and is planning to go completely carbon-free over the next decade.

A separate $2.88 million Regional Mobility Grant from WSDOT funded three electric buses that will enter service next year on Route 6, which connects the city’s slowly-growing waterfront to downtown and will be promoted to all-day service under new restructured network. Additional grants from the Federal Highway Administration and other federal sources will pay for two buses arriving in 2020 and nine in 2022.

The electric buses will save about 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually once the full fleet is delivered in 2022, representing a savings of 76% in fuel costs per bus service hour. Everett also touts that the buses are significantly quieter than its diesel counterparts, registering 57 decibels from 50 feet away compared to 77 decibels for a conventional bus. After figuring out the idiosyncrasies of the electric buses and their charging system, Everett estimates that the new fleet will save 56% in maintenance costs as fluids like antifreeze and oil are replaced with battery care and electronics diagnostics.

Just as Metro’s order of 120 electric buses by 2020 has some transit advocates questioning whether large agencies like Sound Transit should look into electric vehicles, Everett’s ambitious plans should provide an interesting use case for smaller agencies that are already heavily dependent on federal grants for bus replacements. Rural and semi-urban agencies of comparable size throughout the Northwest are also looking into electric buses, but none have made a large commitment to them as of press time. The takeover of electric battery buses is well underway and the Puget Sound region looks to be leading the way.

Everett’s shiny new electric bus, alongside a 17-year-old diesel coach
The seating area inside the Proterra bus matches Everett’s other coaches

7 Replies to “Everett Transit Debuts Its First Electric Battery Bus”

  1. I really like that Everett Transit is going electric. Very timely and good use of one-time grant money. Now hopefully the Everett City Council will man up and send to the voters a ballot measure to accelerate the process and expand service.

    Also great writing Bruce!

  2. Very good news, and very few visible “downsides”. Anybody who knows batteries, however: is there any problem with the chemicals they’re made with? And Josh, excellent article, but you really need to spend some time talking with the mechanics who maintain these machines, and the people who drive them.

    A transit vehicle takes a world (literally) of punishment from bottom side of the tires to any electric mechanism on the roof. Also, especially a new equipment making its first entry into the transit world, it can take years in service before one or another problems start to develop.

    And…nothing against interagency advocacy, especially over across the lake in the Democratic Republic of The Seattle Times- but there’s a reason why Metro would bring in these buses before Sound Transit does. Fact that Sound Transit actually does run less than forty so much means it needs to be ready to hit sixty when it starts to lose traction across the icy pavement of Hell.

    My own best use for this electric package?. Will be perfect for the Waterfront, especially since BN won’t even trolleywire its own track. But if we want to incorporate the Waterfront into the rest of our network, like direct service from the Victoria Clipper to everything from Upper Queen Anne to Madrona- or the REAL Route 7- could be good match.

    But remember this about transit politics:



    Whatever Parliament does with Brexit, the lads in the coal country will remember that at least transit-wise, Theresa May was on their side to the end. And since ST still owes Black Diamond something, we could end the trolleywire at both Enumclaw and Issaquah


    1. It’s 10% grades at 40 miles per hour. None of Sound Transit’s freeway runs have grades anywhere close to that steep. SR-18’s Peasely Canyon grade between Federal Way and Auburn is 6%, and I’m pretty sure that’s the steepest grade on the greater Seattle freeway network.

  3. Back during the U-link restructure, there was considerable neighborhood opposition in Wallingford to the 62 because they didn’t want more diesel buses rumbling through their neighborhood. Converting routes like these to electric is a great way to quell some of the political objections to providing more service.

    1. Should also put an end to complaints about having to look at trolley wire. But browsing through YouTube, I found something that’ll solve the other part of our electric near-future. Getting our heaviest passenger loads up the steepest parts of our system. With the same all-electric vehicle. But:


      These new power collectors might not need any special work at all. Let alone worries about dewiring anywhere. Think about the Counterbalance, or Third and James, where the First Hill coaches head up to Harborview. With the near-vertical stretches the only part of our system requiring overhead wire at all.

      The power-collectors we’ve been using have been in service unchanged for, what, a hundred years? During which they never completely obsolesced out of existence. These new ones look simple enough for another hundred. Not good, though, if they enable any legislator- or Supreme Court Judge- to get that much seniority.

      I wish we could’ve been able to “wire up” at CPS and not drop contactors ’til we got to North Bend. But now, could give us some of the flexibility we’ll need for constantly changing political and financial conditions ahead. Could de-fang many a funding cut.

      Reason for second link is that the lady driver proves that this technology attracts exactly the correct personality to handle OUR Route 7, which as the whole transit world knows is the real one. However, come to think of it, we could now “interline” with Everett so their Route 7 doesn’t get teased about it. Swift, however, is on its own.

      Mark Dublin

    2. Yeah, very good point, asdf2. There are a number of very nice future routes that would be tough to imagine without running wire or battery buses. As the latter becomes cheaper and more common, that will be the way to go. For example, Metro’s long range plan has a route somewhat like this: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ZFjGI3dNqgLH5DTLOtO9KwjSwRFUdI-x&usp=sharing. It would be extended to the west by going up Queen Anne (I just didn’t feel like drawing that part). This would go along with a couple other route changes. The 8 would do a dogleg to Harrison (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1z8q6itZ98JFv0HDVAd5lHIS2wck1jYqt&usp=sharing). That would mean very good coverage over Harrison (connecting Lower Queen Anne to South Lake Union). To backfill service on Denny, the 106 would be replaced by a bus on Boren: https://goo.gl/maps/WBhEbbrMaWo.

      All of these changes look fantastic to me. Each route seems like it would be extremely popular, and the combination looks excellent. But the toughest one to implement (with diesel buses) is the one on Lakeview. I am sure the neighbors just don’t want a noisy, stinky bus going by, even if it would transform transit in the area. But a battery bus? No problem.

  4. I’m not at Innotrans this year, but they are doing the bus display again. When I was there last year I rode a few of the battery buses, one of which was one of the Solaris type that Hamburg was using. They are quite astoundingly quiet.

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