On Friday Metro celebrated the retirement of the last diesel bus—part of the fleet dubbed “the 1100s”. Metro’s fleet is now comprised only of diesel-electric hybrids, battery-powered buses, and electric trolleys. To celebrate, a “Gold Tire” retirement ceremony was held to recognize the last bus, which will be preserved by the Metro Employee Historic Vehicle Association (MEHVA) which you might be able to ride some day.
The ceremony comes several months after the last trip operated by an 1100 series bus, which last saw service in late March 2020, when route 200 was suspended. The first of the 1100s entered service in 1999. A more recent addition–the D40LF or “3600s” made by New Flyer, were added to the fleet in 2003 and last saw service in April 2020.
The high-floor Gillig Phantom has been a workhorse: it was produced by Gillig from 1980 to 2008 and has seen operation in over 242 transit agencies worldwide. Between 1995 and 2020, Metro had a peak of 504 Phantoms in the fleet; 100 of which were trolleys with custom-built drivetrains by Metro and have been the only electric-driven Phantoms in the world. The Phantom was one of the first vehicles purchased by Metro after the creation of the King County Department of Transportation in 1996 which dissolved the previous regional Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle that had formerly operated the region’s transit service.
In 2002, Metro entered its first foray of diesel-electric hybrids with the New Flyer DE60LF which replaced the Breda buses that operated in the DSTT in years prior. Widespread operation of these articulated hybrids came in 2004, which coincided with joint ops in the DSTT.
Seattle has seen operation of trolley buses since 1939, just before streetcar operation ceased in 1941. In 2015 a trio of Proterra Catalyst BE40 fast-charge battery operated buses began serving the Eastside. Five additional models of battery-only buses hit the streets in 2018 in both revenue and non-revenue service.
Metro still has a goal of moving to a zero-emission fleet “powered by renewable energy by 2040 or sooner, as technology and capital projects allow”, likely abandoning the possibility of doing it five years sooner.