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Metro tests new battery-powered buses that can go 140 miles on a charge

(King County Metro)

King County Metro will soon test battery-powered buses that can travel more than 140 miles on a single charge, moving them closer toward their goal of a zero-emission fleet.

The new models can travel nearly six times farther than current fast-charge Metro buses, and would satisfy nearly 70 percent of local routes.

“We are challenging manufacturers to create reliable battery buses that meet our service needs on long routes with steep hills. This test is the next step on our path to a clean, quiet fleet powered by renewable energy,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The initial performance tests will involve 40- and 60-foot battery-powered buses, and will be operated out of Metro’s South Base in Tukwila.

King County Metro saw a 5 percent bump in ridership in 2016 with an estimated 150 million riders using the entire system. Between 2010 and 2016, 70 percent of commuters opted not to drive alone into downtown Seattle — 47 percent used mass transit, 6 percent walked, and 3 percent used a bike.

By 2040, King County Metro hopes to have created the necessary infrastructure needed to recharge both short- and long-range buses for a zero-emission fleet. They were the first transit agency in North America to install a high-powered charging station at a base facility, and operate the largest fleet of diesel-electric hybrid buses of its kind in the nation.

“Before committing fully to manufacturers, we first must take steps to test the performance of this fast-moving technology,” said Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. “Our goal is to trade up for a cleaner future that supports the health of the communities we serve.”

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