Zero-Emission Bus Implementation Analysis in Seattle

Transportation is responsible for half of all emissions in King County. An important first step has been to dedicate resources and leverage federal funds for electric bus fleet purchases.

Responding to the Challenge

In April 2016, the King County Council passed Motion 14633, which took these initial steps further by directing King County Metro to develop and transmit a feasibility report that identifies and analyzes strategies for and barriers to achieving a carbon-neutral or zero-emission vehicle fleet by 2040. Metro recently received a $3.3 million Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program (LoNo) grant from Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that has helped to fund the purchase of eight additional battery vehicles and associated charging infrastructure.

Roadmap to a Zero-emission Fleet

As a subconsultant to Metro’s consultant team, WSP provided technical assistance to develop short- and long-term plans for transition to a zero-emission fleet. The analysis will also inform Metro’s next revision to its Long Range Transit Plan. 

WSP provided technical analysis for the following:

  • Development of a recommended long-term path to guide transition to a zero-emission fleet, including technological change, technical issues, pricing, bus storage and maintenance facility  capacity, and vehicle availability issues
  • Development of potential procurement strategies for incorporating zero-emissions transit vehicles into Metro’s fleet, including implementation plans for near-term fleet additions funded with the FTA grant and recommending steps for a larger scale implementation consistent with Metro’s existing fleet replacement plan
  • Identifying the financial, and siting issues related to use of zero-emission buses 
  • Calculations of lifecycle costs associated with battery or zero-emission buses compared to alternative technologies such as hybrid electric vehicles
  • Analysis of the environmental benefits including noise and emissions reductions of additional zero-emission vehicle purchases, and their monetization for benefit/cost analysis purposes 
  • In addition, WSP developed several scenarios about when Metro can achieve the zero-emission fleet and prepared criteria to evaluate these scenarios. 

True Technical Assistance

The analysis addressed the following issues:

  • How current and future technology improvements are likely to affect issues of cost, range, battery life, and types of vehicles available
  • Charging technology and the impact on service characteristics, life cycle cost, and procurement issues, including an analysis of on-route or depot charging technologies
  • Identifying and evaluating the significance of technology, policy, market and commercial barriers to deployment of advanced vehicle designs, including advanced propulsion technology, determined the significance of the factors affecting new technology deployment