King County Metro
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2009)|
|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|
|Stops||9,549 (year-end 2008)|
|Hubs||13 transit centers|
|Fleet||1,443 (year-end 2008)|
|Fuel type||Diesel, Diesel-electric hybrid, Electric trolleybus|
|Chief executive||Kevin Desmond, General Manager|
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. Its annual ridership in 2008 was 118 million. By second quarter 2012 ridership figures, Metro is the 8th largest agency in the nation. Metro employs 2,694 full- and part-time operators (year-end 2008)
- 1 History
- 2 Operations
- 3 Facilities
- 4 Transit Now
- 5 Intelligent transportation systems (ITS)
- 6 Programs
- 7 Fleet
- 8 Current fleet roster
- 9 Retired fleet roster
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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. 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 and began operations in 1973. Its operations subsumed Seattle Transit, 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 in King County. Its representation structure was ruled unconstitutional in 1990. In 1992, after gaining approval by popular vote, the municipality's roles and authorities were assumed by the government of King County. 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. 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.
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 in the 80s and the waterfront streetcar and its replacement route numbered 99 even though the bus route is now like any other Metro service. 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), 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.
Freeway express services
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. 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. The first "freeway flyer" stop opened in 1975 at Montlake Boulevard and State Route 520. 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.
Ride Free Area
For almost 40 years, until 2012, 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. 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. 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; in February 1994, the RFA's hours were reduced further, with fare payment required between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.
On trips that originated in the downtown Ride Free Area and terminated outside of it, passengers paid their fare when they exited the bus at their destination, called "Pay as you leave". On trips that originated outside the RFA, passengers paid their fare when they boarded. The zone allowed buses to travel through downtown more quickly, as it enabled passenger boarding through all doors, in addition to eliminating the time needed for payment of fares or driver checking of fares. Although every passenger still needed to pay a fare or show proof-of-payment to the driver, and therefore overall trip times were not significantly reduced, the "Pay as you leave" system for trips originating in downtown meant that time for fare payment was spent away from downtown, the most congested part of the transit system.
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.
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.
On September 29, 2012, the Ride Free Area was eliminated. All riders boarding in downtown must now board through the front door, and all trips within King County became "Pay as you board" trips.
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 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.
- 197 (Twin Lakes P&R/University District)
- 255 (Downtown Seattle/Kirkland, Brickyard P&R)
- 644 (temporary route, replaced by 244: Overlake/Kenmore)
- 952* (Kennydale, Auburn/Boeing Everett)
*Available on last AM peak hour trip and last PM peak hour trip
Metro uses a cellular air card from Sprint which is plugged into a Junxion Box. The system is currently set up on 48 coaches. Metro advertises that the SSID is KingCountyMetro. Initially these coaches had exterior markings, however many of these have been replaced with advertisements. Coaches continue to sport large stickers on the ceiling near the front of the coach.
In the February 2009 service change, there is no longer any mention of free Wi-Fi service in timetables for the above routes, resulting in the discontinuation of the Wi-Fi service. However, the service returned on the new RapidRide service, the first line of which, the A Line, began service in October 2010.
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.
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.
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.
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. At the end of 2008, the systemwide cost per boarding was $3.70.
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. 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. 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, 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. An MAN articulated trolleybus from Metro's fleet, retired in 2007, was acquired by the Illinois Railway Museum in 2008 and now operates occasionally on the museum's trolley bus line.
Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel
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. 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.
The tunnel was closed in 2005 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.
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).
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:
|Bellevue||1985||Owned 51% by Sound Transit, 49% by Metro|
|Burien||2009||5 electric vehicle recharging stations|
|Eastgate||2004||3 electric vehicle recharging stations|
|Mount Baker||2009||Connection to Mount Baker Station|
|Totem Lake||2008||At Evergreen Medical Center|
There also exist transfer points which are transit hubs that lack their own facilities.
Metro operates out of seven bases (garages), spread throughout its 2,134-square-mile (5,530 km2) operating area:
|Atlantic||1555 Airport Way S, Seattle||1941||Only base that serves electric trolley buses|
|Bellevue||1790 124th Ave NE, Bellevue||1983|
|Central||640 S Massachusetts St, Seattle||1941|
|East||1975 124 Ave NE, Bellevue||1977|
|North||2160 N 163rd St, Shoreline||1992||Built mostly underground|
|Ryerson||1220 4th Ave S, Seattle||1987|
|South||12100 East Marginal Way S, Tukwila||1978||More coaches here than any other base (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. East and Bellevue bases comprise the Bellevue Campus and are located nearby each other in north Bellevue. The South and East transit facilities finished an ADA retrofit in 2001.
|Atlantic Maintenance||1555 Airport Way South, Seattle|
|Central/Atlantic/Ryerson Operations||1270 6th Ave S, Seattle|
|Central Maintenance||640 South Massachusetts, Seattle|
|Communications Control Center||1505 6th Ave S, Seattle||2007|
|Component Supply Center||12200 East Marginal Way South, Tukwila|
|Employee Parking Garage||1505 6th Avenue South, Seattle|
|Marketing Distribution Center||1523 6th Ave South, Seattle|
|Tire and Millwright Shop||1555 Airport Way South, Seattle|
|Power Distribution||2255 4th Avenue South, Seattle|
|Redmond Van Pool Center||18655 NE Union Hill Road, Redmond||2002[verification needed]||Van Pool van storage|
|South Facilities||11911 East Marginal Way South, Tukwila|
|Training and Safety Center||11911 East Marginal Way S, Tukwila||Operator training, new equipment qualifications, and retraining.
Across the street from the South Base.
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, 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:
- Implementation of bus rapid transit (BRT) service called RapidRide in five arterial corridors.
- Increase service on high ridership routes that provide frequent, two-way connections throughout the agency's service area.
- Service for growing areas in outlying sububuran/[exurban] areas.
- Partnerships with cities and major employers to provide more service than could otherwise be provided through typical resources.
- Additional improvements such as expanded ride-share and paratransit services in King County.
The RapidRide corridors are:
- "A" Line (Opened October 2, 2010) - Pacific Highway South. This line connects with Sound Transit's Central Link light rail beginning at the Tukwila, WA, Park and Ride (Tukwila International Boulevard Link Light Rail station) and travels along Pacific Highway South to Federal Way via SeaTac, Washington.
- "B" Line (Opened October 1, 2011) - Bellevue-Redmond. The line serves the Bellevue TC in downtown Bellevue, NE 8th Street, Crossroads Mall area, Overlake and downtown Redmond at the Redmond TC.
- "C" Line (Opened September 29, 2012) - West Seattle. The line serves run from West Seattle Junction over the West Seattle Bridge to downtown Seattle.
- "D" Line (Opened September 29, 2012) - Ballard-Uptown. The line serves serve Ballard, Uptown and the downtown Seattle Stadium Area.
- "E" Line (2013) - Aurora. This line will run from Pioneer Square, Seattle in downtown Seattle to the Aurora Transit Center in Shoreline by way of Aurora Avenue North.
- "F" Line (2013) - Southcenter Blvd. This line will run from Burien Transit Center to the Renton Transit Center serving Tukwila International Boulevard Station, Southcenter Mall, Tukwila Sounder Station, South Renton Park and Ride in between.
All lines will use new, low-floor, articulated buses that feature an identifiable look distinct from other Metro coaches. Stops will be farther apart than typical Metro service to increase speed and reliability and create "stations" more akin to what is found on light rail lines. Stations will have real time information signs to communicate estimate arrival times of RapidRide buses. Some form of off-bus fare collection would be considered.
Intelligent transportation systems (ITS)
Collaborating with several local jurisdictions, Metro was an early experimenter with Transit Signal Priority (TSP), a system to 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.
In 2010, Metro will rollout 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. Those signs are a component of what Metro calls a "Tech Pylon", a free standing wireless-capable kiosk, that also has an ORCA Card validator and other rider information.
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.
Metro plans to have automated stop announcements on buses beginning in late 2009 as part of its on-board communications system update.
In 1998 the fleet was updated with an Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) system that utilizes battery-powered beacons located at some stops. Metro is currently in the process of replacing it with a GPS-based system as part of a system-wide radio update by 2010.
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.
- 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.
- 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 but it is limited only to Metro bus routes.
- Bus Shelter Mural Program
- Move It! Youth Project
- Partners in Transit
- Poetry on Buses
- Recycling Program
- School Program
- Central Puget Sound Regional Fare Coordination Project (Smart Card)
- On-Board Systems/Communications Center System Project
Metro operates one of the largest bus-only fleets in the country. 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. Metro's use of articulated coaches dates back to 1978, when it was the first large agency in the country to adopt the technology. 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, the AMG trolleys were ordered with some of the first wheelchair lifts in the nation, 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. 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 as many of Metro's routes are frequently "standing room only". Whatever the reason for the delay, Metro has now embraced low-floor buses, and all new fleet additions since 2003 have been low-floor. Like Golden Gate Transit and SamTrans in California's San Francisco Bay area of (and unlike most transit agencies), almost all of Metro's fleet has highback non-reclining seating as opposed to lowback seating that is used by most other transit agencies on local routes. These buses operate on both local and express routes.
Metro maintains a fleet of 159 electric trolley buses (ETBs) that serve 14 routes along almost 70 miles of two-direction overhead wire. This is the second largest ETB system (by ridership, number of routes and fleet size) in the country. The ETBs are valued by Metro both as zero-emission vehicles, 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), 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.
In 2002, Metro replaced its 109 AMG trolleys with 100 new trolleys using new Gillig Phantom shells. The drive train of the AMG coaches was retained with new electronics, saving approximately $200,000 per coach. Metro rebuilt 59 of the 236 now retired dual-mode Breda "tunnel buses", converting them to electric-only operation and refurbishing them to replace aging MAN articulated ETBs. The rebuild included new Vossloh-Kiepe current-collection equipment, new interior upholstery, a completely new driver's compartment, and new LED destination signs.
In July 2013, Metro placed an order with New Flyer Industries for 141 new low-floor trolley buses, based on Flyer's Xcelsior model, to replace the current fleet of Gillig and Breda trolleys. Of the total, 86 will be 40-foot (12 m) vehicles (model XT40) and 55 will be 60-foot (18 m), articulated vehicles (model XT60). Their electrical propulsion equipment will be provided by Vossloh Kiepe and will include battery-only auxiliary power units, a feature absent from all previous Seattle trolley buses (other than dual-mode buses for use on former Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel routes). A prototype is due for delivery in May 2014 for evaluation and testing. Delivery of the production-series vehicles is scheduled to begin in early 2015, starting with the 40-foot units, and conclude at the end of 2015.
Metro operates the largest fleet of articulated hybrid buses in the country, the fleet of 235 New Flyer DE60LFs it purchased to replace the Bredas (Sound Transit bought an additional 21 similar buses). Metro's hybrids were purchased to run in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, where they operate together with Sound Transit's light rail vehicles. Metro purchased 213 hybrids in 2004, and by March 2006, Metro had accumulated nearly 13 million miles on its 235 hybrid buses. On May 16, 2007, Metro awarded its biggest contract ever to New Flyer for the purchase of 715 more 60-foot (18 m) hybrid buses. Ninety-three 40-foot hybrid coaches from Daimler Buses North America were ordered in 2009 with delivery expected in 2010.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted a one-year comparative study between conventional diesel and GM hybrid-powered buses operating on a typical King County drive cycle. Results showed that the GM-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.
A special mode was designed by GM Allison engineers to allow the buses to operate solely on electric power, reducing tailpipe emissions and noise. Before entering the tunnel, the operator pushes a button that charges the batteries to their maximum charge and puts the coach into "Hush mode". In the bores between the tunnel's stations, the bus uses electric traction to get to 15 mph (24 km/h); after 15 mph a combination of electric and diesel is used. The operation of the diesel engine allows the batteries to charge. Inside the stations, the coaches operate solely on electric propulsion. While the doors are closed, the engine still rotates in order to operate auxiliary loads (such as the air compressor). Hush mode is deactivated after the coach has traveled a certain distance or can be manually deactivated by the operator.
Current fleet roster
|Under 30 Feet|
(95) PARTIALLY RETIRED
(395) PARTIALLY RETIRED
(274) PARTIALLY RETIRED
Retired fleet roster
|Ford/Champion van Challenger||Navistar T444E/Ford 4R100||2003||35||1200-1234|
|Breda ADPB 350||DDC6v92TA/
|MAN Americana||MAN D2566 MLUH||44||40'||1986–1987||2004||157||3000-3146; 3150-3159|
|MAN SG-310||MAN D2566 MLUM||60'||1983||2001||202||2000-2201|
|MAN SG-220||MAN D2566 MLUM||60'||1977||1999||151||1400-1550|
|Flyer D900||Cummins VTB903||40'||1979||1997||224||1600-1823|
|Flyer D900||Cummins VTB903||35'||1980||1997||35||1850-1884|
|AMG 10240T trolleybus||GE||45||40'||1979||2003||109||900-1009 (no 911)|
|AMG 10240B8||DDC 8V71||40'||1976||1996||323||1100–1313; 1340-1349|
|GMC T8H-5305||DDC 8V71||40'||1968||1987||70||700-769|
|Flxible||Detroit Diesel 6V-71||51||40'||1963||1986||100||500-599|
|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.|
|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.|
- "Facts". King County Metro. 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
- Sims, Ron (August 28, 2008). "Huge increase in Metro bus riders". Retrieved 2009-01-08.
- King County,Metro bus and van ridership set another record in 2008, 2009-02-05.
- "Transit Ridership Report, Second Quarter 2012". American Public Transportation Association. May 18, 2012. Retrieved June 26, 2012.
- Oldham, Kit (June 18, 2006). "Metro: Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle". HistoryLink: Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
- Sound Transit. History and Chronology. October 2007.
- Light rail operator Ordinance
- Washington State Department of Transportation. Summary of Public Transportation - 2007. November 2008.
- Chapter 2. Bob Lane, Better Than Promised: An Informal History of the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (Seattle: King County Department of Metropolitan Services, 1995) http://dnr.metrokc.gov/wtd/docs/better_than_promised/ch02.pdf
- King County Metro. Transit Milestones 1970s
- King County Department of Transportation. New transit/HOV ramps now open at Eastgate 2007-03-07.
- Sound Transit. ST Express Regional Bus Projects and Related Projects
- Walt Crowley (1993). "Metro Transit establishes free Magic Carpet zone in downtown Seattle in September 1973". HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- Robert Lindsey (September 9, 1973). "Seattle Joining Movement for Free Bus Rides". The New York Times. p. 228. Retrieved 2009-10-12.
- Metro Transit Ride Free Area
- Sanger, S.L (August 21, 1987). "Metro puts the brakes on free rides at night". Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p. B1.
- Foster, George (February 4, 1994). "Free downtown bus service to be cut in compliance with security plan". Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p. C1.
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- Review of Metro Transit, Municipal League of King County (November 2008) 
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- MAN Products
- Flyer & New Flyer
- AMGeneral Coaches
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- Brill 40 SMT
Media related to Metro Transit (King County) at Wikimedia Commons
- Metro Transit
- One Bus Away
- Metro Employees Historic Vehicle Association (MEHVA)
- Seattle Tunnel on History Link
- Metro Tracker Applications
- Bus Monster
- Central Puget Sound Regional Fare Coordination
- Metro/Sound Transit Smart Bus Project
- Comparative study between Diesel and GM Hybrid bus fleets operating in Seattle (King County)
- Elliott Bay Water Taxi
- Why You Should Trust King County Metro Trip Planner