King County Metro has received its first 40-foot battery-electric New Flyer bus. The agency has already taken possession of 60-foot articulated variants from the company. Metro says that the new 40-foot buses are capable of carrying 35 passengers and running 220 miles on a single charge.
King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski hailed the latest zero-emissions development and said he’s looking forward to further progress. “I’m excited to continue the implementation of our zero-emission bus plan. It’s taken a lot of thoughtful work from a lot of participants over several years and I am confident that it is the right way to go,” he said. “It sets us up well for significant federal dollars to help bring the vision to fruition. I also firmly believe that it will help us present an attractive plan to further fund Metro Connects to the voters in the near future. Voters want zero-emission buses and I believe [they] will be more inclined to fund a plan that is based upon this technology.”
In a video, Metro showed off the new bus and highlighted some changes that passengers may notice. “There’s a minor seating change at the rear that should decrease boarding and deboarding time, where we’ve shifted some of the seats so that they’re actually aisle-facing to allow some more standing room and easier boarding and deboarding for passengers as on and off the bus,” said Will Haber, a vehicle procurement administrator for Metro. Haber also said that the first bus will go through a thorough testing process and item checklist to make sure it’s sound for general use next year.
The initial 40-foot battery-electric New Flyer bus is part of a 40-vehicle order. Deliveries will be happening from this fall through early next year. This is part of a larger set of orders that Metro has with New Flyer, which is expected to deliver many more battery-electric buses. The first 40 of the 60-foot articulated variant started arriving in April.
Metro says that the battery-electric buses will be charged at the South Base where pantographs and plug-in stations are to be located. Those should come online later this fall. As for charging facilities in the field, Metro told The Urbanist that they “will evaluate the merits of building charging stations in the field.” Should they offer improved “resiliency and operational flexibility,” the agency may install them in the future.