2 June 2004

King County Metro Transit, which serves the Seattle, WA, area, has received first deliveries of new state-of-the-art hybrid buses. The first twenty four buses will start carrying passengers on June 5. It is the first batch of 235 diesel electric hybrid buses ordered by transit agencies in the Seattle area. All 235 buses are expected to be on the road by the end of the year.

The 235 hybrids have been purchased to replace aging dual-mode buses operating on routes using the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. Those old buses run normally on diesel but switch to overhead electric wires while passing through the tunnel. 213 hybrid buses will be deployed by King County Metro and 22 by Sound Transit. The first two dozen hybrids will go in service in South King County on June 5.

The buses, manufactured by New Flyer, feature the EPSystem parallel hybrid powertrain by GM’s Allison Transmission and are powered by Caterpillar C9 ACERT engines. The buses operate on ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD). According to GM, the hybrids can deliver 60% better fuel economy than conventional buses. PM emissions are reduced by 90% (the buses are equipped with particulate filters). The article on the Seattle bus order provides additional technical details.

The cost of the hybrids was $645,000 per bus, approximately $200,000 more than a standard diesel coach. The cost difference above a purchase of standard diesel buses was covered by federal funding.

According to GM, this is the largest hybrid bus order in the USA. Large hybrid bus orders have also been placed by the New York City transit authority, who has been operating buses supplied by Orion Bus, with series hybrid powertrains by BAE Systems.

Press releases: King County | GM