King County’s population has grown by more than 2 percent every year since 1980, from 1.3 million people in 1980 to more than 2 million in 2014.
By 2040, King County Metro expects 360,000 more people will be here, instantiating a 70 percent increase in demand for its services that will call for 2.5 million more service hours on its bus routes, and 625 more buses.
A big part of the agency’s planning for that future is to have its new bus base in Kent or in Auburn up and running by 2030 to house and maintain 250 battery-electric buses.
By the end of 2020, King County Metro expects to decide where it will be: Site A, 25 to 38 acres of industrially-zoned property at 196th St and 68th Avenue South in Kent; Site B, 18 acres of commercially-zoned property at 277th and D streets Northeast in Auburn; or Site C: 38 acres of industrially-zoned property at 37th and B streets Northwest in Auburn.
The sites are not listed in any order of preference, though Metro’s top criteria are 30 acres of flat land with access to major freeways and arterials.
On Monday evening, Jeff Arbuckle, capital projects managing supervisor for King County Metro’s Operational Capacity Program, explained the benefits of the bus base to the Auburn City Council.
By deploying an all-electric fleet, Arbuckle said, Metro expects to make a meaningful contribution to the community by improving air quality in South King County.
Metro expects the base to support 250 electric buses at an estimated cost of $480 million, which includes purchasing the site, building and opening the base.
That investment, Arbuckle said, will allow Metro to explore partnerships in the community, among them training and apprenticeship programs, and by providing a base for economic development, 400 to 600 jobs during planning, construction and long-term operation.
“Our new base in South King County is expected to maximize the time a bus spends in revenue service and reduce the time spent traveling without riders by siting the facility near the start and end points of major routes,” Arbuckle said.
Here’s what’s ahead
2020: Select the site
2024: Wrap up land acquisition
2026: Begin construction
2030: Be open.