News from Metro's General Manager

Metro's new trolleys are purple, green, and easy to ride

August 19, 2015

Five of Metro's brand new, state-of-the-art electric trolley buses start service today—the first of 110 40-foot trolleys we'll be rolling out this year. What a fitting way to mark the 75th anniversary of Seattle's trolley system!

Next year, 64 new 60-foot trolleys will join the fleet, replacing the remainder of our old, worn out trolleys.

The trolleys we just launched will operate on routes 1, 2, 3, 36, and 70 this week, and around the system after that. You'll have no trouble spotting them—they're purple, a new color for Metro.

In another sense, the trolleys are remarkably green: zero emissions and up 30 percent more energy-efficient than the old trolleys they’re replacing. Their quiet operation is another big plus in the noisy urban environment where they travel.

Our customers will find lots of features designed to improve their rides: filtered heating and air conditioning, low floors for easier and faster boarding and exiting, and updated bike racks and systems for securing wheelchairs. To make it easier for passengers to circulate and exit, the new buses have a few less seats and back doors that riders can open by pressing on them when the bus is stopped.

These new trolleys can even go short distances off-wire. While inside the bus, the driver can disconnect the trolley's poles from the power lines and use battery power to scoot around obstructions, keeping our riders moving. As we gain experience with this capability and deploy more new trolleys, we'll have much less need to substitute diesel buses for trolleys to operate around weekend events or construction zones—reducing noise, energy consumption and emissions.

Also coming soon: three electric battery buses that we'll be testing for potential future use. These zero-emission coaches can travel up to 23 miles on a charge of less than 10 minutes.

Only five transit agencies in the country have trolley systems, and ours is the second largest (behind San Francisco, which partnered with us on the trolley purchase to get the best possible price). As our transit system has evolved over the years, the Seattle community has held fast to our trolleys, and it's no wonder. They're a great match for the steep hills and the character of the neighborhoods where they operate.

We're proud that our new trolleys not only start a new era for Seattle's historic trolley system, but also keep us moving toward our goal of having a bus fleet made up entirely of electric and hybrid buses by 2018.


Kevin Desmond, General Manager
King County Metro Transit

Kevin Desmond

General Manager, King County Metro Transit

Photo of General Manager, Kevin Desmond

If you live in King County, Metro is your public transit system. I want you to know about our performance, the issues we face, and the innovations we are bringing your way.

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