King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov

King County could bump up Metro electrification deadlines

Transportation generates nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

King County may be able to move more quickly on its goal of electrifying Metro’s vehicle fleet should the King County Council approve a proposed ordinance.

The ordinance would require King County Executive Dow Constantine to “jump start” vehicle electrification, require Metro to speed up its transition to an entirely zero-emissions bus fleet by 2035 instead of 2040, and move up deadlines for other services like Paratransit and Rideshare.

Transportation generates nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and it is one of the top sources for emissions in King County. Metro’s fleet is more efficient than personal vehicles, but the agency still uses about 10 million gallons of diesel annually and produces about 80 percent of the county’s emissions, according to the county.

The proposal carries a $60 million price tag — money the county would use to buy 120 battery buses, build out the needed charging infrastructure and continue planning. The county’s goal is to have around 51 percent of Metro’s fleet running on batteries, or running off the electric grid, by 2030.

Another 250 buses will be purchased by 2025. A new Metro base in South King County would house 250 of these zero-emissions buses and is expected to open in 2030.

Additionally, charging stations for the public could be expanded at county parks and Park and Ride locations. The executive could further require that new multi-family housing and commercial developments include charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.

Since 2016, Metro has piloted three fast-charge battery buses in Bellevue. Metro owns eight short-range battery buses with a range of 25 miles, which it uses in the city. About 12 percent — or 185 buses — of its bus fleet is expected to be electrified by this fall, most of them from its trolley bus fleet. It is also leasing and testing 10 buses with ranges of up to 140 miles.

The county hopes to put about 2,200 battery or electric buses and trolleys on the streets over the course of the next 20 years.

A full transition to electric buses in Washington state could avoid nearly 90,000 tons of pollution annually, according to a report by the Environment Washington Research and Policy Center. That’s the equivalent of taking more than 170,000 cars off the road. And owing to declines in electric vehicle battery costs, governments that use electric buses have saved around $30,000 per bus each year compared to diesel-powered buses, according to the report.

Metro operates a fleet of more than 1,600 buses.

More in News & Comment

The language of the original bill prohibited privately-owned detainment facilities from being contracted by local, state, or federal government entities, but a last-second amendment was adopted to substantially narrow the focus of the legislation. File photo
Lawmakers flinch on banning for-profit detention facilities

Last minute amendment exempted ICE detainment facility.

Cooper Hawkins (9), Nash Hawkins (16) and Charlotte Hawkins (12) at the Hawkins’ home. Courtesy photo
Mercer Island family raises awareness for rare, undiagnosed diseases

Charlotte and Cooper Hawkins were born with an ultra-rare undiagnosed disease.

Replica of Vietnam Memorial making Enumclaw stop

A local vet has spent six years trying to secure this opportunity.

A proposal to make King County Metro fares free for low-income households could be approved in the coming months. File photo
King County considers free transit for low-income residents

The program would target those at or below 80 percent of the federal poverty level.

Federal Way resident Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, 17, died Jan. 27, 2017. Courtesy photo
Law enforcement challenges report on sting operation that killed Federal Way teen

King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight’s findings rattle Sheriff’s Office, police union.

Unstable housing? Apply for Section 8

Applications open in February for housing vouchers

In 2018, the city of Seattle approved and then repealed a head tax within a month. It would have levied a $275 per employee tax on businesses grossing more than $20 million annually. Sound Publishing file photo
County head tax bill passes committee

Bill would let King County levy a tax on businesses to fund housing and address homelessness.

Gov. Jay Inslee signs the first bill of the 2020 legislative session into law. On the right stands the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, who is wearing a red tie. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gov. Inslee signs tax bill to help fund higher education

Law shifts a portion of the tax burden to large tech companies.

King County Metro’s battery-electric bus. Photo courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Metro bus fleet will be electrified by 2035

Future base in South King County would house hundreds of the zero-emission vehicles.

Three-quarters of the suicide deaths among children ages 10 to 14 are caused by firearms, according to a new report from the Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program at the University of Washington. File photo
King County studies youth gun violence amid rising suicides

It’s unclear what’s driving the trend.

A King County work crew clears a road near Preston on Feb. 7, 2020. Heavy rains appear to have caused multiple landslides along the road. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
The future could look a lot like this year’s flood season

Climate change is expected to lead to more winter flooding in King County.

High tides, as seen in this file photo of Raymond’s Willapa Landing Park in Pacific County, could become the norm in the future due to sea level rise. Sound Publishing file photo
UW summarizes Washington climate impact on water

The report localizes information from the United Nations.