Fleet, Infrastructure, and Workforce
FLEET Vehicles designed for customer comfort, safety, and efficient and green operations are key to Metro Connects. Metro is building toward an entirely zero-emissions, low-floor bus fleet, and will expand its fleet of buses, vans, and support vehicles to provide the higher levels of service envisioned in the 2050 network.
What will the Metro fleet look like? As of 2021, Metro’s fleet, including Metro and Sound Transit coaches, has more than 1,500 fuel-efficient buses. These include hybrid diesel-electric and clean-diesel coaches, electric trolleys, and several battery buses. Metro’s fleet also includes paratransit and DART vehicles, Rideshare vans and electric Metropool vehicles, and passenger ferries for the water taxi service. A large additional “non-revenue” fleet used to support service has tow trucks, supervisor vans, maintenance trucks, and more. Metro Connects will require additions throughout the fleet, including approximately 430 new buses by 2050. Replacement vehicles will also be needed as current vehicles reach the end of their useful lives—usually after 12 to 15 years of service. As detailed below, all replacement buses after 2023 will be zero emission vehicles, and this will require development of associated charging infrastructure. In addition, Metro will also work to incorporate zero emission vehicles into its non-revenue, vanpool, and Access fleets as it replaces current vehicles and expands operations. Metro’s goal is to power Metro fleets with 100 percent renewable electricity. Compared to the current network, more of the new service proposed in Metro Connects will be in non-peak hours. Since fewer buses are used then, they will be used more efficiently, operating for more hours a day. As a result, Metro could purchase relatively fewer buses compared to the increase in service hours. Metro Connects also envisions potential expansion and optimization of the electric trolley bus network, which carried about 15 percent of Metro riders in 2020. This will require investing strategically in the trolley network, focusing first on places where a relatively small expansion of wire could allow new service concepts to operate successfully. These include places that have frequent service, common overhead wires with existing trolley bus routes, steep hills, and dense urban service areas. As of 2020, the passenger ferry fleet includes three biodiesel-powered high-speed vessels. Metro Connects proposes to add up to four vessels for three new routes over the next 30 years. Vessels purchased for expanding service must significantly reduce emissions. Ferry propulsion technology is quickly evolving for diesel-electric hybrid, hydrogen fueled, or full battery-electric systems. Metro is committed to moving toward zero-emissions vessels, as explained in the “Electrification” section. This includes replacement vessels for the existing fleet by 2050.
King County Metro Long Range Plan