More battery-powered buses for Metro

(King County photo)

40 feet long, with a range of 25 miles, and a 10-minute charging time. Those are the baseline stats for the additional battery-powered Metro buses announced today, following up on the testing announced back in 2015. King County Executive Dow Constantine says Metro is buying “up to 73 all-electric battery buses from Proterra at a cost of up to $55 million, starting with 20 buses totaling $15.12 million. Charging stations to support the initial orders of those buses will range from $5.5 million to $6.6 million.” The first eight will go into service this year, likely in Bellevue. But that’s just part of the plan, according to the news release:

As part of today’s announcement, Metro will acquire up to nine long-range electric buses from different manufacturers to test the battery technology with a range of about 140 miles. With this approximately $7 million acquisition, Metro is challenging the industry to produce buses that can travel farther. Metro also is calling on the industry to develop 60-foot long buses, better able to replace the articulated buses that make up 55 percent of its fleet.

That’s the length of many buses you see in West Seattle – RapidRide, Route 120, Route 21, among others. Read today’s announcement in its entirety here.

24 Replies to "More battery-powered buses for Metro"

  • SpamFarm January 10, 2017 (2:42 pm)

    Range of 25 miles? Shouldn’t that be 250 miles? 

    • WSB January 10, 2017 (2:52 pm)

      No, it’s 25 miles. Note the later paragraph about the challenge to have them come up with 140-mile ranges. 25 miles is up a bit from the 23 miles mentioned in our 2015 story, which is linked in this one.

    • blaughw January 10, 2017 (9:06 pm)

      The battery in the “25 mile” model is roughly equivalent  to that in a Tesla Model S.  They have models going up over 300 miles.  Obviously the battery costs are a factor, and the “lower range” models offer the quick-charge feature, which can cover a driver’s break or any kind of stop-over.

      Information > opinions here guys.

  • Rick January 10, 2017 (3:02 pm)

    How many miles while sitting traffic?

    • Sevenless January 10, 2017 (5:36 pm)

      25 miles. That’s the beauty of electric motors that don’t need to idle.

  • dsa January 10, 2017 (3:24 pm)

    Three quarters of a million dollars for 25 miles?  Throw the bums out.

    • rpo January 10, 2017 (8:55 pm)

      The buses would be used on short haul routes where 25 miles is a long distance, plus they take less than 10 minutes to charge (based on the buses from two years ago…could be better now).

      Also, diesel equivalent bus is running $500,000 nowadays, so these are not that far off.  Electricity and maintenance are MUCH cheaper on these too.  Also, they are quiet. 

    • Mike January 10, 2017 (10:18 pm)

      The current bus gets about 4-5mpg.  Hybrid gets about 6-8mpg.  You can see where electronic might not be so bad of a cost.

  • clinker January 10, 2017 (4:07 pm)


    Offhand, the price of a metro bus (electric or otherwise) does seem excessive, but there is a lot to consider about the lifetime trade-offs of such a system. There is a great study about this exact thing done for NYC by Columbia:

    Electric Bus Analysis for New York City Transit – Columbia University

    We benefit the most as a community when we don’t become stuck on short term impact.

    • dsa January 10, 2017 (9:13 pm)

      Get real.  It is an excessive price for the lack of mileage.  Those batteries will probably burn out excessively fast too, needing to be recharged so frequently.

      • Mike January 11, 2017 (9:00 pm)

        Actually, it costs less to maintain an electric bus than diesel.  Diesel busses require a lot of additional maintenance even with the industrial CAT diesel engine.  A CAT diesel will give you about 1,000,000 miles before needing to be replaced, however, it will have had numerous maintenance issues over those miles that cost money.  Diesel also requires a transmission, differential, drive shaft, etc.  None of which an electric bus/vehicle needs.  There are a lot less parts to break on electric vehicles.  Costs are actually lower to maintain electric vehicles than diesel/gas.  The batteries in these busses have longevity that will outlast the CAT diesel in the same timespan due to mileage wear and tear.  Batteries are not the end all be all.  People are confused about how new battery tech works, it’s not the same as your 2001 cell phone that would need a new battery after a year, these last for decades, sometimes longer.

        • Tony S January 11, 2017 (9:35 pm)

          Mike, how dare you respond to a blind rant with actual facts and statistics. Don’t you know that facts are elitist? 

  • Trickycoolj January 10, 2017 (5:09 pm)

    Curious if they’re quiet like the trolley buses? Would be interesting to see what the real world mileage ends up being.  Obviously until technology is developed for longer ranges application is limited but even swapping out short routes would help mitigate the cost fluctuations with fuel pricing. 

    • rpo January 10, 2017 (8:49 pm)

      Definitely, and maybe even quieter as there is no metal on metal drive train (metal wheels and metal track).

  • wetone January 10, 2017 (5:13 pm)

    About as good of investment as the Seattle Streetcars. Simply amazing what/how city of Seattle and Metro spend/waste money on. So much money for such a limited use vehicle. Only thing green with this project is the $$$ spent.  People might say feds are paying a big chunk of cost, where does that money come from ?   us .   As usual another Seattle only flop that doesn’t matter, as Seattle can say it’s the first and only in nation to spend so much on this green program.  I wonder how many high ranking officials at city like Dow Constantine and at metro personally own and drive battery only powered cars…………..

  • Jon Wright January 10, 2017 (10:10 pm)

    I’m grateful Dow et. al. have thick enough skin not to be discouraged by People Who Are Against Everything and to explore exciting new technology like this.

  • Chris January 11, 2017 (5:13 am)

    Not that we are against everything.   We are against spending extra on something when we are told Metro is constantly underfunded.  Our politicians aren’t good stewards of our money is what we are saying.  

  • Swede. January 11, 2017 (5:34 am)

    The majority of Metro funding is federal. And FYI, the ‘RapidRide’ 60′ busses cost about he same as these Proterra ones. New technology is always a bit more. 

  • Ariana January 11, 2017 (8:05 am)

    I am not saying I am for or against these electric buses.  Why not?  Other than potential cost that some have brought up.  

    Its slightly different here in WA when we get a lot of our electricity from hydro, however it seems like most people think electricity is green.  It’s not at all.  It is usually dirty to produce and a good portion of it is lost in transmission.  Saying an electric car/bus/train is zero emissions is completely false.  

    I am all for progress but lets be honest with ourselves.  

    Internal combustion engines have become quite clean.  Cows, global trade, third world countries are a few contributors to global warming we should consider, should “man” be causing/increasing it.  

    Critical thinking, reading comprehension, thrust for truth are things of the past.  Now its just the blind leading the blind.  

  • wetone January 11, 2017 (8:24 am)

    I believe the 10 min. quick charge is actually a battery replacement. They have crews and heavy equipment that remove and replace the battery packs supposedly in 10 min time frame then re-charge the removed battery packs. Full charging taking much longer than 10 min. 

  • Triangle Resident January 11, 2017 (9:29 am)

    I’m all in on electric/battery bus replacements.  However, due to the fact that these buses weigh significantly more than combustion buses, SDOT needs to improve their paving materials.  Take a look at any Rapid Ride stop and you will see where the roadway is crumbling from the weight.  Not to mention that they cram so many people on the bus which just makes them even heavier.  

  • Tony S January 11, 2017 (9:36 pm)

    I just wish they didn’t look so dorky. 

Sorry, comment time is over.

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann