King County Metro

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King County Metro
King County Metro logo.svg
Slogan We'll Get You There
Parent King County Department of Transportation
Founded January 1, 1973
Headquarters 201 S. Jackson St., Seattle
Locale King County, Washington
Service area King County, Washington
Service type Transit bus
Alliance Sound Transit
Routes 223[1]
Stops 9,549[1] (year-end 2008)
Hubs 13 transit centers
Fleet 1,443[1] (year-end 2008)
Daily ridership 400,457[2]
Fuel type Diesel, Diesel-electric hybrid, Electric trolleybus
Chief executive Kevin Desmond, General Manager
Website Metro Online

King County Metro, or Metro for short, is the public transit authority of King County, Washington, a division of the King County Department of Transportation. It began operations on January 1, 1973, but can trace its roots to Seattle Transit, founded in 1939, and Overlake Transit Service, founded in 1927. As of 2008, it operated 1,443 buses on 223 routes.[1] Its annual ridership in 2008 was 118 million.[3] By second quarter 2012 ridership figures, Metro is the 8th largest agency in the nation.[4] Metro employs 2,694 full- and part-time operators (year-end 2008).[1]


The Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, or Seattle Metro, was created by a local referendum in 1958 authorized to manage regional wastewater and water quality issues in King County.[5] After two failed attempts to enable it to build a regional rapid transit system, it was authorized to operate a regional bus system in 1972. The bus system was known as Metro Transit and began operations in 1973. Its operations subsumed the Seattle Transit System, formerly under the purview of the City of Seattle, and the Metropolitan Transit Corporation, a private company serving suburban cities in King County. In the early 1970s, the private Metropolitan faced bankruptcy because of low ridership. King County voters authorized Metro to buy Metropolitan and operate the county's mass transit bus system.

The Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle was overseen by a federated board of elected officials, composed of elected officials from cities throughout the region. Its representation structure was ruled unconstitutional in 1990.[6][7] In 1992, after gaining approval by popular vote, the municipality's roles and authorities were assumed by the government of King County.[5] After completion of the downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel project, attention was drawn again to developing a regional rail system. This interest led to the formation of the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority, also known as Sound Transit, which holds primary responsibility for planning and building high capacity transit in the counties of King, Pierce and Snohomish, in western Washington state.[8] Metro Transit continues to provide local and regional transit service connections, primarily within its jurisdictional boundaries. Besides its own transit operations, Metro operates ST Express bus and Central Link light rail service for Sound Transit.[9]

Ride Free Area[edit]

For almost 40 years, until 2012,[10] most of downtown Seattle was designated as a zero-fare zone, an area in which all rides on Metro vehicles were free, known as the "Ride Free" Area. Intended to encourage transit usage, improve accessibility, and encourage downtown shopping, the zone was created in September 1973 and was originally called the "Magic Carpet" zone.[11][12] It was later renamed the Ride Free Area (RFA). The RFA extended from the north at Battery St. to S. Jackson St. on the south, and east at 6th Avenue to the waterfront on the west.[13] Until 1987, the zone was in effect 24 hours a day, but in October of that year Metro began requiring fare payment within the zone during night-time hours, between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m., to reduce fare-related conflicts that sometimes led to assaults on drivers;[14] in February 1994, the RFA's hours were reduced further, with fare payment required between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.[15]

A King County Auditor’s Office report released in September 2009 found that Metro “can neither fully explain nor provide backup documentation for the operating cost savings that offset the fare revenues in the calculation of the annual charges to the City of Seattle for the city’s Ride Free Area” and that some assumptions in the methodology Metro used to calculate the amount of lost fares were “questionable” and have not been updated to reflect changes to the fare structure and fare collection methods.[16]

A 1975 study found that while the Ride Free Area generally reduced bus travel times within the RFA itself, buses that traveled through the Ride Free Area to other destinations generally did not benefit. It also found that unloading outbound coaches once outside the RFA took additional time, though not entirely quantified vis-à-vis time saved within the RFA.[citation needed]

On September 29, 2012, the Ride Free Area was eliminated. All riders boarding in downtown must now pay as they board.[10]


Metro Buses in Seattle, Washington


Metro combines service patterns typical of city and suburban bus networks. The city network, descended in large part from the Seattle Transit system of converted streetcar routes, is arranged in a hub-and-spoke pattern centered on downtown Seattle, with lesser amounts of crosstown service. Routes in the city network are numbered from 1 to 77, with special late-night "Owl" routes numbered in the 80s and the Waterfront Streetcar and its replacement bus route numbered 99. Because of the scattershot evolution of the system, there is no easily discernible pattern to the route numbers, although there are clusters in certain neighborhoods: for example, the 43, 44, 48, and 49, as well as the 65, 66, 67, 68, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, and 75 all run through the University District (U District).

The in-city routes with the highest ridership are the 7, traveling from downtown Seattle through the International District and Rainier Valley; the 36, traveling from downtown Seattle through the International District to Beacon Hill; the 43 and 49 (the latter of which was formerly the northern portion of route 7, until 2005), traveling through Capitol Hill to the University District; the 44, a crosstown route connecting the University District and Ballard; the 48, a long crosstown route connecting north Seattle and the University District to the Central District; and the 3 and 4, connecting downtown to Queen Anne, First Hill, the Central District, and Madrona. However, because of the bus-only nature of the system, there are many other heavily used routes.

The suburban system is more numerically organized. Roughly speaking, areas south of the city from Burien and Des Moines through Renton and Maple Valley are served by routes numbered from 101 to 197. Areas east of the city from Renton to Bothell are served by routes numbered from 200 to 291. Areas north of the city from Bothell to Shoreline are served by routes numbered from 301 to 373. Numbers in the 400s and, for the most part, the 800s, are reserved for Community Transit (Snohomish County) commuter routes serving Seattle; numbers in the 500s are used by Sound Transit's Regional Express system, save for Pierce Transit's routes 500 (Federal Way-Tacoma) and 501 (Federal Way-Milton-Tacoma). 600 series routes are general "express" routes that are used for special purposes (the 630, for example, operated between the Kingsgate Park and Ride and Bellevue during construction of the Totem Lake direct access ramps) as well as the Olympia Express Lines operated by Pierce Transit and Intercity Transit, and 900 series routes are reserved for Dial-a-Ride services and for routes serving outlying areas such as Duvall and Carnation.

Special routes numbered 206-208, 219 and 885-890 are used by Metro to serve Bellevue School District students. Special coaches are dispatched around the region to serve as shuttles for local events, including Seattle Mariners baseball games, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Huskies football games, and other special events.

Major all-day Metro routes in the suburbs include the 120, connecting Seattle and Burien; the 124 connecting downtown Seattle and Tukwila; the RapidRide A line connecting Federal Way, Des Moines, Kent, Seatac, and Tukwila in the busy Pacific Highway/International Blvd. corridor; the 150, connecting Seattle, Southcenter and Kent; the 101 and 106 between Seattle and Renton; the 255, connecting Seattle and Kirkland; the 240, connecting Renton and Bellevue; RapidRide B Line, connecting Bellevue, Crossroads, and Redmond; the 271, connecting Issaquah, Bellevue, and the University District; the 347 and 348, connecting Northgate and North City; and the 358, operating on Aurora Avenue N. to Shoreline.


Main article: RapidRide
RapidRide bus running on the C Line in West Seattle

King County Metro operates RapidRide, a network of bus lines with some bus rapid transit features. Stops are placed farther apart than typical Metro service to increase speed and reliability. Stops with heavier ridership have "stations" with an awning, seating, lighting, real time information signs to communicate estimate arrival times of RapidRide buses. Most stations and some stops in Downtown Seattle have ORCA card readers that allow passengers to pay before the bus arrives and board at any of the buses three doors.[17] All lines use new, low-floor, articulated buses that are painted with a distinct red and yellow livery and have onboard Wi-Fi.

The RapidRide corridors are:

Freeway express services[edit]

Metro operates many peak-hour commuter routes serving park and rides that use 244.52 miles of the region's network of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes.[18] This practice was pioneered at Seattle Transit as the Blue Streak express bus service running between Northgate Park & Ride and Downtown Seattle. Special stops called "freeway flyers" or freeway stations were constructed to allow efficient transfer between local and express buses.[19] The first "freeway flyer" stop opened in 1975 at Montlake Boulevard and State Route 520.[20] Metro also takes advantage of new HOV direct-access ramps and freeway stations constructed by Sound Transit to improve speed and reliability of its commuter routes.[21][22]

Skip-stop spacing[edit]

Metro uses skip-stop spacing on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Avenues in Downtown Seattle, whereby buses skip every other bus stop. On 3rd Avenue, each bus route is assigned to Blue, Yellow, Red or Green stop groups and each bus stop has two color designations; in the northbound direction, every other bus stop is a Red/Yellow or Green/Blue stop, while in the southbound direction they are Green/Yellow and Red/Blue. On 2nd and 4th Avenues, routes are grouped into Orange and White stops. The bus stop color groupings are identified by a colored plate installed above or on the side of the bus stop sign. On 3rd Avenue only, there are additional colored markers one block ahead of each bus stop on the trolley overhead wires, to help bus drivers identify the colors of the upcoming bus stop.[23]

Operating costs[edit]

The cost per boarding for Metro was $4.10 in 2005, compared to $2.50 among the 15 largest national agencies and $2.97, the national average. Metro's cost per boarding is 38% above the national average.[24]

Metro's higher-than-average cost per boarding can be at least partially attributed to its high percentage of "commuter" routes, which run at peak hours only, and often only in one direction at a time. As of 2011, 100 of Metro's 223 routes are peak-only. These routes require significant deadheading (particularly on the one-way routes), as well as a very large part-time labor force, both of which drive up costs.[25]

Metro's lowest cost route overall, route 4 (East Queen Anne to Judkins Park), had a cost per boarding of only $0.46 during peak hours in 2009. By way of contrast, Metro's peak-only route with the lowest cost per boarding was route 206 (Newport Hills to International School), at $2.04. Metro's highest cost route by this measure, route 149 (Renton Transit Center to Black Diamond), had a peak time cost of $34.47 per boarding. Route 149 serves the rural southeastern corner of King County.[26]

In 2007 it cost $3.64 per boarding to deliver service in the West (Seattle) subarea, $4.79 in the South subarea and $7.27 in the East subarea of King County.[24] At the end of 2008, the systemwide cost per boarding was $3.70.[1]


Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel[edit]

University Street Station

A major Metro operations facility is the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, or DSTT. The DSTT, a 1.3-mile-long, five-station tunnel through the center of downtown Seattle, was completed in 1990 at a cost of $455 million.[27] Planned from the outset to be convertible to light rail operation, the tunnel was outfitted with rails and overhead trolley wire. A fleet of 236 dual-propulsion buses were produced by Breda of Italy, powered by electric traction in the tunnel, and diesel on city streets. Mode changes occurred at the north and south portals.

The tunnel suffered some significant problems in operation, as the Breda buses proved overweight and unreliable. The original plan to have up to 489 dual-powered buses using the tunnel by the mid-1990s never materialized; the 236 Breda buses were the primary buses to use the tunnel until Metro acquired its hybrid fleet in 2004.[27][28]

The tunnel was closed in 2005[29] to replace the rails, lower the track bed for Central Link's modern ADA-compliant light rail vehicles, and complete a stub tunnel for the University Link extension to the north. The tunnel finished its retrofit and returned to service on September 24, 2007.[29]

In addition to Central Link Light Rail, the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel currently serves the following bus routes during tunnel operating hours: King County Metro 41 (Northgate, Lake City), 71 (U-District, Wedgwood), 72 (U-District, Lake City), 73 (U-District, Jackson Park), 74 (U-District, Sand Point), 76 (Green Lake P&R, Wedgwood), 77 Express (Maple Leaf, Jackson Park, North City), 101 (Renton), 102 (South Renton, Fairwood), 106 (Rainier Beach, Renton), 150 (Southcenter, Kent), 216 (Sammamish, Bear Creek P&R), 218 (Eastgate Freeway Station, Issaquah Highlands P&R), 255 (Kirkland, Brickyard P&R), 316 (Green Lake P&R, NSCC, Meridian Park) and Sound Transit Express 550 (Bellevue).[30]

Transit centers[edit]

Transit centers act as smaller regional hubs that are served by many bus routes. Some transit centers are located in a park-and-ride lot. While Downtown Seattle is Metro's main transit hub, Metro operates out of thirteen transit centers[verification needed] located throughout King County:[31]

Location Year Opened Notes
Auburn-Sounder-station-3592.jpg Auburn 2000[32]
Aurora Village 1985[33]
Bellevue Transit Center.jpg Bellevue 1985[33] Owned 51% by Sound Transit, 49% by Metro[31]
Burien Transit Center.jpg Burien 2009[34][35] 5 electric vehicle recharging stations[36]
Eastgate P&R.JPG Eastgate 2004[37] 3 electric vehicle recharging stations[38]
Federal Way Transit Center.jpg Federal Way 2006[39]
Issaquah Transit Center.JPG Issaquah 2008[40]
Kirkland 1986[41] Renovated 2011[41][42]
Route 14 Trolley at Mount Baker TC.jpg Mount Baker 2009[43] Connection to Mount Baker Station
Northgate Transit Center Sign.jpg Northgate 1992[44]
Overlake Transit Center.jpg Overlake 2002[45]
Sound Transit 545 at Redmond TC.jpg Redmond 2008[31]
Renton Transit Center.jpg Renton 2001[46]
Totem Lake Transit Center.jpg Totem Lake 2008[47] At Evergreen Medical Center

There also exist transfer points which are transit hubs that lack their own facilities.

Park-and-ride lots[edit]

In King County, Metro has 132[1] park-and-ride facilities containing a total of 24,524[1] parking stalls. Half of the lots are leased from other property owners such as churches.[31]


Metro operates out of seven bases (garages), spread throughout its 2,134-square-mile (5,530 km2) operating area:

Name Location Year Opened Notes
Seattle-Atlantic-Base-3580.jpg Atlantic 1555 Airport Way S, Seattle[48] 1941[49] Only base that serves electric trolley buses[49]
King County Metro Bellevue Base.jpg Bellevue 1790 124th Ave NE, Bellevue[48] 1983[citation needed]
King County Metro Central Base.jpg Central 640 S Massachusetts St, Seattle[48] 1941[49]
King County Metro East Base.jpg East 1975 124 Ave NE, Bellevue[48] 1977[20]
King County Metro North Base.jpg North 2160 N 163rd St, Shoreline[48] 1992[50][51] Built mostly underground[50]
King County Metro Ryerson Base.jpg Ryerson 1220 4th Ave S, Seattle[48] 1987[33]
King County Metro South Base.jpg South 12100 East Marginal Way S, Tukwila[48] 1978[20] More coaches here than any other base[52] (as of September 2003)

Atlantic, Central, and Ryerson Bases are located close together near Safeco Field south of downtown Seattle and are known as the Central Campus.[52] East and Bellevue bases comprise the Bellevue Campus[52] and are located nearby each other in north Bellevue. The South and East transit facilities finished an ADA retrofit in 2001.[citation needed]


Name Location Year Opened Notes
King County Metro Atlantic Maintenance.jpg Atlantic Maintenance 1555 Airport Way South, Seattle[53]
King County Metro Central Operations.jpg Central/Atlantic/Ryerson[52] Operations 1270 6th Ave S, Seattle[53]
King County Metro Central Maintenance.jpg Central Maintenance 640 South Massachusetts, Seattle[53]
King County Metro Communications Control Center.jpg Communications Control Center 1505 6th Ave S, Seattle[53] 2007[54]
King County Metro Component Supply Center.jpg Component Supply Center 12200 East Marginal Way South, Tukwila[53]
King County Metro Employee Parking Garage.jpg Employee Parking Garage 1505 6th Avenue South, Seattle[53]
King County Metro Marketing Distribution Center.jpg Marketing Distribution Center 1523 6th Ave South, Seattle[53]
King County Metro Tire & Millwright Shop.jpg Tire and Millwright Shop 1555 Airport Way South, Seattle[53]
King County Metro Power Distribution.jpg Power Distribution 2255 4th Avenue South, Seattle[53]
Redmond Van Pool Center.jpg Redmond Van Pool Center 18655 NE Union Hill Road, Redmond[53] 2002[55][verification needed] Van Pool van storage[56]
King County Metro South Facilities.jpg South Facilities 11911 East Marginal Way South, Tukwila[53]
King County Metro Training and Safety Center.jpg Training and Safety Center 11911 East Marginal Way S, Tukwila[57] Operator training, new equipment qualifications, and retraining.
Across the street from the South Base.

Transit Now[edit]

In April 2006, King County Executive Ron Sims announced a program entitled "Transit Now" that, once approved by voters, would provide for a 20 percent increase in transit service by the end of 2016 over 2006 service levels, measured in annual operating hours. In order to realize this growth, Transit Now proposed an increase in the local option sales tax for transit of one-tenth of one percent. The Transit Now ordinance,[58] passed by the King County Council on 5 September 2006 and signed by Executive Sims on 11 September 2006, forwarded the tax proposition to the voters and identified the programs to which operating revenue generated from the sales tax increase could be appropriated. The measure was approved by 56.62% of King County voters in the November 2007 general election. The service programs identified in the ordinance are as follows:

  1. Implementation of RapidRide routes in five arterial corridors.
  2. Increase service on high ridership routes that provide frequent, two-way connections throughout the agency's service area.
  3. Service for growing areas in outlying sububuran/[exurban] areas.
  4. Partnerships with cities and major employers to provide more service than could otherwise be provided through typical resources.
  5. Additional improvements such as expanded ride-share and paratransit services in King County.

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS)[edit]

Collaborating with several local jurisdictions, Metro was an early adopter of Transit Signal Priority (TSP), a system that can extend green lights to allow buses to get through. The system can boost average speeds as much as 8%, and is in use on several of the city's busiest corridors, including Aurora Avenue North, Rainier Avenue S, and Lake City Way NE.[59] The system uses RFID tags that are read as buses approach a TSP equipped intersection. In 1998, the fleet was updated with an Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system that utilizes battery-powered beacons that read the RFID tags and communicate the buses location to Metro.

In 2010, the AVL system was replaced with a GPS-based system as part of a system-wide radio update.[60] As a part of the radio update Metro also added automated next stop signs and announcements to all buses.[61]

In 2010, Metro rolled out a new IP network based ITS infrastructure for its RapidRide service. Buses will communicate with roadside equipment using 802.11 wireless technology on the 4.9 GHz public safety band. A fiber optic backhaul connects access points and roadside equipment together to Metro's Communication Center. The system will extend the legacy RFID-based TSP system. It will also be used in conjunction with GPS technology to provide frequent and accurate location updates for next bus arrival signs at RapidRide stations.

The extent of Metro's application of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) for transit information available for customers has been limited to a few projects:

  • An early project called MyBus by the University of Washington (UW) utilized the tracking data to provide real-time bus information. This is now hosted by Metro under the name Tracker. An improved version of MyBus called One Bus Away, developed by a UW graduate student, combines Tracker information with Google Maps. The Android version of One Bus Away was developed by Paul Watts, a Seattle entrepreneur and programmer.
  • Transit Watch displays, like those found in airports and major train stations, are installed at some transit centers and transfer points to show real-time bus arrival information.
  • A pilot project provided bus information displays along a city arterial. Metro discontinued the project in 2005, citing the cost of maintenance and technical problems.[62]
  • Metro has a regional trip planner that provides itineraries for transit trips within King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, including those on Sound Transit services, Washington State Ferries, the Seattle Center Monorail, and the Seattle Streetcar. Google Maps also provides trip planning using schedule data as part of their Google Transit service.

ORCA Card[edit]

Metro is a participating agency in the regional smart card program called ORCA (One Regional Card for All). It was launched for public use on April 20, 2009, along with six other transit agencies in the region.[63][64]

Bus stop technology[edit]

RapidRide stations as well as major bus stops in Downtown Seattle are also receiving what Metro calls a "Tech Pylon", a free standing wireless-capable kiosk, that has next bus arrival signs and a ORCA Card validator.[65][66]


Metro operates one of the largest bus-only fleets[67] in the United States. Metro has a high concentration of articulated buses—buses with a rotating joint—almost half its current fleet and the largest articulated fleet in North America.[67] Metro's use of articulated coaches dates back to 1978, when it was the first large agency in the country to adopt the technology.[68] The other half of the fleet consists of mostly Gillig Phantom high-floor coaches and New Flyer low-floor coaches, the latter of which are used mostly on routes within the Seattle city limits.

The agency pioneered technologies in widespread use today. In 1979, it ordered Flyer coaches with some of the first wheelchair lifts in the nation,[69][70] promising a completely new level of independence for disabled residents. Early lifts were severely flawed, but by the mid-1980s the lifts were generally reliable and were ordered on all new buses. With the retirement of the 1400-series buses in 1999, the entire fleet became wheelchair-accessible—again, the first fleet its size to do so.[citation needed]

Metro was reluctant to adopt low-floor buses, not buying any until 2003. Low-floor coaches have slightly reduced seating capacity (because the wheelwells intrude further into the passenger compartment) which may have been a concern. Whatever the reason for the delay, Metro has now embraced low-floor buses, and all new fleet additions since 2003 have been low-floor.


A Gillig Phantom trolley on route 4

Metro maintains a fleet of 159 electric trolley buses (ETBs) that serve 14 routes[71] along almost 70 miles[1] of two-direction overhead wire. This is the second largest ETB system (by ridership,[72] number of routes and fleet size) in the country.[73] The ETBs are valued by Metro both as zero-emission vehicles,[74] and as vehicles well adapted to Seattle's hilly terrain. In Seattle, ETBs are traditionally referred to simply as "trolleys".

Occasionally Metro will use diesel or diesel-electric hybrid coaches on trolley routes. Reasons for doing this include construction (weekends only[75]), overhead wire maintenance or events that require coaches to go off-route (Metro's ETBs do not have auxiliary power units), "coach changes" (replacing a bus in service that has developed a problem), or to add temporary additional capacity. The latter two cases sometimes lead to diesel buses being used, in order to get the replacement or supplementary vehicle into service as quickly as possible; diesel buses can reach the point of entry into service faster, as they do not need to follow the overhead wires when deadheading.

Metro placed an order with New Flyer Industries for 141 new Xcelsior low-floor trolley buses in July 2013. Of the total, 86 will be 40-foot (12 m) vehicles (model XT40) and 55 will be 60-foot (18 m), articulated buses (model XT60).[76] The buses will include battery-only auxiliary power units, to allow them to operate off-wire for short distances. When all the trolley buses are delivered (expected by late 2015) and accepted for service, the current fleet of Gillig and Breda trolleys will be retired.

Diesel-electric hybrids[edit]

Metro operates the largest fleet of articulated hybrid buses in the country. The first New Flyer DE60LF hybrid buses were purchased in 2004 for use with routes that operated in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.[77] The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a one-year comparative study between conventional diesel and hybrid-powered buses operating on a typical King County drive cycle. Results showed that the hybrid powered buses lowered fuel consumption by 23%; NOx by 18%; carbon monoxide (CO) by 60%; and total hydrocarbon (THC) by 56% when compared to conventional diesel buses. Those results have led Metro to purchase hybrid buses exclusively since 2005 (with the exception of the all-electric trolley buses.) [78][79] Metro now has over 700 hybrid buses in the fleet, with more on order.

Hush mode[edit]

Buses equipped with the GM-Allison EP50 and the Allison H 50 EP parallel hybrid systems have a special "hush mode" that allows the buses to operate solely on electric power, reducing tailpipe emissions and noise while operating in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.[77] Before entering the tunnel, the operator pushes a button that puts the coach into hush mode. While buses are inside stations, the coaches operate solely on electric propulsion (although, while the doors are closed, the engine still rotates in order to operate auxiliary loads). In between the tunnel's stations, the bus uses electric traction to get to 15 mph (24 km/h); after 15 mph a combination of the electric and diesel motors are used. The operation of the diesel engine allows the batteries to charge. Hush mode is normally deactivated by the operator as they exit the tunnel, but the mode will be automatically deactivated after the coach has traveled a certain distance.

Series hybrids[edit]

Metro's newest 40-foot buses (and some 35-foot buses on order) are equipped with the BAE Systems HybriDrive, a series hybrid system.[80] In these buses a diesel engine drives a generator, which provides power to a electric motor that turns the wheels. This electric drive system makes the buses better at climbing hills than buses than diesel or diesel-electric parallel hybrid powered buses. These buses are often used as replacements for the trolleybuses during periods where the overhead lines are turned off due to scheduled maintenance or construction.

Current fleet roster[edit]

Builder Model Image Engine/Transmission Propulsion Year Fleet Series/(Qty.)
30 Feet
Gillig Phantom King County Metro Gillig PHANTOM 1122.jpg diesel 1999-2000 1100-1194
35 Feet
Gillig Phantom King County Metro 3193.jpg
  • Cummins M11
    • Allison WB-400R
diesel 1997 3185-3199
40 Feet
Gillig Phantom King County Metro Transit Gillig PHANTOM 3436.jpg
  • Cummins M11
    • Allison WB-400R
diesel 1996-1999 3200-3594
Gillig Phantom ETB KingCountyMetro 4191.jpg electric trolleybus 2002 4100-4199
New Flyer D40LF King County Metro D40LF.jpg diesel 2003 3600-3699
Orion Orion VII
(07.501 EPA10 HEV)
King County Metro Orion VII 7012.jpg diesel-electric hybrid (series) 2010-2011 7001-7093
Orion Orion VII
(07.501 EPA10 HEV)
King County Metro Orion VII 7199.JPG
  • Cummins ISB6.7
    • BAE Systems HybriDrive
diesel-electric hybrid (series) 2012 7094-7199
60 Feet
Breda DuoBus 350
(ADPB 350)
Seattle Breda trolleybus 4249.jpg electric trolleybus 1990–1991
New Flyer D60HF King County Metro Transit D60HF 2353.jpg
  • Cummins M11
    • Allison WB-500R
diesel 1998-1999 2300-2573
New Flyer DE60LF King County Metro DE60LF 2648.jpg diesel-electric hybrid (parallel) 2002–2004 2600-2812
New Flyer D60LF King County Metro D60LF.jpg
  • Caterpillar C9
    • Allison WB-500R
diesel 2004 2870-2899
New Flyer DE60LF King County Metro Transit DE60LF 2818.jpg
  • Cummins ISL
    • GM-Allison EP50
diesel-electric hybrid (parallel) 2008-2010 6813-6865
New Flyer DE60LFA


King County Metro New Flyer DE60LFA.jpg
  • Cummins ISL
    • GM-Allison EP50
diesel-electric hybrid (parallel) 2009-2010 6000-6019
New Flyer DE60LFR King County Metro DE60LFR.jpg
  • Cummins ISL9
    • Allison H 50 EP
diesel-electric hybrid (parallel) 2011 6866-6935
New Flyer DE60LFR


King County Metro Rapid Ride New Flyer DE60LFR 6024.JPG
  • Cummins ISL9
    • Allison H 50 EP
diesel-electric hybrid (parallel) 2011 6020-6035
New Flyer DE60LFR


King County Metro Rapid Ride New Flyer DE60LFR 6060.JPG
  • Cummins ISL9
    • Allison H 50 EP
diesel-electric hybrid (parallel) 2012 6040-6073
New Flyer DE60LFR King County Metro New Flyer DE60LFR 6968.JPG
  • Cummins ISL9
    • Allison H 50 EP
diesel-electric hybrid (parallel) 2012 6936-6999, 6800
New Flyer DE60LFR


King County Metro Rapid Ride New Flyer DE60LFR 6085.JPG
  • Cummins ISL9
    • Allison H 50 EP
diesel-electric hybrid (parallel) 2013 6075-6117

Future fleet[edit]

Builder Model Length Engine/Transmission Propulsion Year Fleet Series/(Qty.) Notes
New Flyer Xcelsior XDE35 35 Feet
  • Cummins ISB6.7
    • BAE Systems HybriDrive Series-E
diesel-electric hybrid (series) 2014 3700-3759 (60) New HybriDrive Series-E system will shut off the diesel engine while at bus stops and in depots to decrease emissions and fuel consumption. Buses originally ordered from Orion, order transferred to New Flyer after closure of Orion factory.[80] Will replace the 30 and 35-foot Gillig Phantom buses.
New Flyer Xcelsior XDE40 40 Feet
  • Cummins ISB6.7
    • BAE Systems HybriDrive Series-E
diesel-electric hybrid (series) 2014 7200-7259 (60)
New Flyer Xcelsior XT40 40 Feet electric trolleybus 2015 4300-4385 (86) Will have regenerative braking and a battery power system to allow buses to operate off-wire for short distances.[89] Buses will replace the Breda DuoBus 350 and the Gillig Phantom ETB.
New Flyer Xcelsior XT60 60 Feet
  • Vossloh Kiepe
electric trolleybus 2015 4500-4554 (55)
Proterra Next-Generation 40 Feet battery electric 2015 (2) Capable of traveling over 26 miles between charges,[90] battery can be recharged at special "fast charge" stations in under 10 minutes.[91] Two test buses will be used for a one-year trial period. Following the trial period King County Metro has the pre-arranged option to purchase up to 200 more buses and additional "fast charge" stations.[92]

Retired fleet roster[edit]

Model Motor Seated
Length Purchased Retired Qty. Fleet Numbers
King County Metro Workhorse van 1913.jpg Workhorse/StarTran President LF GMC Duramax Allison 1000 series 2010 2013 35 1900-1934
King County Metro Transit Ford Van.jpg Ford/Champion van Challenger Navistar T444E/Ford 4R100 2003 35 1200-1234
Breda Dual mode coach 5034.jpg Breda ADPB 350 DDC6v92TA/
56 60' 1988–1991 2005 236 5000-5235
MAN Articulated Trolley Bus.jpg MAN ETB Siemens[93][94] 64 60' 1987 2007 46 4000-4045[95]
Seattle MAN Americana bus 3073 in 1994.jpg MAN Americana MAN D2566 MLUH 44 40' 1986–1987 2004 157 3000-3146; 3150-3159[96]
Seattle MAN 2108 on Washington St in 1994, repainted in late 1980s livery.jpg MAN SG-310 MAN D2566 MLUM 70 60' 1982–1983 2001 202 2000-2201[97]
Seattle 1979 MAN articulated bus on Lenora St in 1994.jpg MAN SG-220 MAN D2566 MLUM 72 60' 1978–1979 1999 151 1400-1550[97]
Muni of Metro Seattle 1979 Flyer D10240C 1657.jpg Flyer D900 Cummins VTB903 47 40' 1979 1997 224 1600-1823[98]
Flyer D900 Cummins VTB903 39 35' 1980 1997 35 1850-1884[98]
Seattle AM General trolleybus downtown, 1986.jpg AMG 10240T trolleybus GE 45 40' 1979 2003 109 900-1009 (no 911)[99]
AMG 10240B8 DDC 8V71 45 40' 1976 1996 323 1100–1313; 1340-1349[99]
1968 General Motors T8H-5305.jpg GMC T8H-5305 DDC 8V71 48 40' 1968 1987 70 700-769[100]
Seattle Flxible bus 552 on Alaskan Way in 1985.jpg Flxible Detroit Diesel 6V-71 51 40' 1963 1986[101] 100 500-599[101]
Seattle 1944 Pullman trolleybus 1005 in 2000.jpg Pullman-Standard trolley GE 44 40' 1944 1978 30 977–1006 originally; 642–655 from 1974 until end of service (after some retirements and renumberings). No. 1005 preserved by Metro.
Seattle 1940 Twin Coach trolleybus 643 in 1990.jpg Twin Coach trolley Westinghouse 41 40' 1940 1978 177 800–976 originally (counting 24 slightly larger units, built in 1943); remaining coaches in 1974 renumbered into series 600–659. No. 643 (originally 905) preserved by Metro.
Seattle 1940 Brill trolleybus 798 in 1990.jpg Brill trolley GE 40 40' 1940 1963[102] 100 700–799

Metro Employees Historic Vehicle Association[edit]

Metro maintains a special fleet of historic motor buses and trolley buses which are occasionally operated on special excursions. These coaches are restored and operated by the Metro Employees Historic Vehicle Association (MEHVA), a non-profit organization formed in 1981.[103] MEHVA is a group of volunteers who are current or retired Metro employees and non-employees who help to restore and operate the historic coaches and pay the cost of some parts. The first excursions took place in 1984, and nowadays MEHVA normally operates six to eight per year.[103] Each excursion has a different route and a different emphasis. There are excursions for trolley buses and excursions for motor buses. The historic coaches are stored and maintained at various Metro bases (garages) in the Seattle area.

The historic fleet consists of motor buses and trolley buses ranging from ones built in the late 1930s and early 1940s through to ones retired only recently, such as a Breda dual-mode bus,[104] a type which was used for tunnel routes and replaced with hybrid electric buses. The collection of vehicles is occasionally expanded. Many retired transit vehicles which were formerly operated in Seattle were either scrapped or auctioned off and bought by private citizens. Quite often these privately owned vehicles were abandoned and left on the owner's property for many decades until found and acquired by Metro and added to their fleet of historic transit vehicles, one such example being a 1919 Birney streetcar from the original Seattle streetcar system which operated until 1941. The 1919 Birney streetcar is the only known car left from the Seattle streetcar system.[citation needed] An MAN articulated trolleybus from Metro's fleet, retired in 2007, was acquired by the Illinois Railway Museum in 2008[105] and now operates occasionally on the museum's trolley bus line.



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  106. ^ The Poetry on Buses program has, since 1992, "inspired residents of King, Pierce, Kitsap and Snohomish Counties to participate in this program that serves as a national model." Selected poems are displayed on interior bus placards, and selected poets receive an honorarium for the poems' use.

External links[edit]

Media related to Metro Transit (King County) at Wikimedia Commons