King County Metro Transit

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Seattle is located in King County. Metro King County Transit is a county-owned public transit system consisting almost entirely of buses. The only exception is the new South Lake Union Streetcar. There was also a Waterfront Streetcar, but that line has temporarily been replaced by a bus pending contruction of a new maintenance barn.

Metro uses a very good mix of various types of buses providing both local and express service throughout King County. A bus tunnel under Downtown Seattle is used by many of the buses, providing faster trips through the downtown core and reducing the number of buses on surface streets. When the light rail line begins operations in 2009 the tunnel will be used by both light rail trains and buses.
My opinions about Metro Transit

The new South Lake Union Streetcar is a modern streetcar that opened to passenger traffic in December 2007. It operates from the north edge of the Downtown core to South Lake Union, a district about a mile north.

Most of the buses are various models and sizes of diesel buses, ranging from 30-foot coaches to 60-foot articulated coaches. More recent purchases include a couple hundred 60-foot hybrid diesel-electric articulated coaches. Like hybrid cars, they supplement the diesel engine with electric motors. Large batteries provide power to run the coach for a short distance, but the batteries are charged by the diesel engine and when brakes are applied the electric motors operate as electrical generators to slow the vehicle and generate electric power to charge the batteries.

Metro also has a fleet of electric trolley buses, which run entirely on electricity, obtaining electric power from a pair of wires suspended above the street. Electricity in King County is supplied almost entirely from hydroelectric generators at dams, so very little fossil fuel is used to generate electricity in this area. Therefore the electric trolleys are very carbon neutral. Many of the bus routes in Seattle are trolley coach routes. There are no trolley routes outside of Seattle.

Currently Metro ridership is increasing rapidly, largely because many drivers turn to transit to avoid the rising cost of gasoline. Unfortunately, despite recent receipt of additional buses, there are not enough buses to properly handle the increased demand.

My opinions about Metro Transit


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©2008 Robert M. Fleming Jr.

This page was last updated 8 May 2016.

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