While King County Metro has been testing out several trial electric buses since since 2016, the agency aims to have a fully electric bus fleet by 2040. Photo by SounderBruce/Flickr

While King County Metro has been testing out several trial electric buses since since 2016, the agency aims to have a fully electric bus fleet by 2040. Photo by SounderBruce/Flickr

King County Rolls on With Its Electric Bus Fleet Plans

With an overhaul set by 2040, a new report shows the economic and health benefits of going electric.

A new joint report released by local environmental and consumer-advocate think tanks argues that electric buses not only have environmental benefits but also have positive economic and health benefits as well.

The analysis, co-authored by the Environment Washington Research and Policy Center, WashPIRG Foundation, and Frontier Group, finds that, due to declines in electric vehicle battery costs and improvements in their quality, governments using electric buses saved roughly $30,000 per bus annually in comparison with their diesel-powered equivalents. (The Chicago Transit Authority, the report noted, estimates that it saves the city $25,000 every year per electric transit bus in its fleet.)

King County is ahead of the curve on the issue of diesel-powered buses. In 2017, King County Metro announced plans to purchase 120 all-electric buses to be added to their existing fleet of roughly 1,400 buses—most of which are hybrids that rely on both diesel and electrical power—by 2020. That same year, the county also announced its goal of electrifying its entire bus fleet by 2040. (The report commended King County for its efforts.)

The report argues that exhaust from diesel-powered buses can cause respiratory diseases and worsen existing diseases like asthma—a troubling conclusion when 95 percent of school buses and 60 percent of regular transportation buses are diesel-powered. “Buses idling in front of schools are one way that children (along with their guardians and teachers) may be exposed to toxic diesel fumes,” the report reads. “According to the EPA, air pollution at schools, including concentrations of benzene and formaldehyde, is higher during the hour when children are being picked up.”

Even children within diesel-powered school buses may be exposed to health risks, the report states. “A number of studies have indicated that diesel fumes from school buses, particularly older ones, may ‘self-pollute,’ or cause air pollution within the bus itself.”

A less startling conclusion in the report is that replacing all diesel-powered transit and school bus fleets nationwide with electric vehicles would prevent a combined total of over six million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a 2017 report on the feasibility of creating a zero-emission King County Metro vehicle fleet, the existing bus fleet consumes about 10 million gallons of diesel fuel annually and accounts for 80 percent of King County government’s greenhouse gas emissions.

jkelety@seattleweekly.com

More in Northwest

At long last, Edgar Martinez’s waiting game is over. Photo by clare_and_ben/Flickr
Edgar Martinez finally makes the Hall of Fame

In his last year on the ballot, the Mariner legend and greatest designated hitter of all time gets the Cooperstown call.

Residents at SeaTac’s Firs Mobile Home Park received a closure notice for October 31, but most have chosen to stay in their homes. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
South King County coalition targets affordable housing

Rent and housing prices hit south end communities hard; SeaTac, Tukwila, Kent, Burien, Renton and Auburn are working to create organization like Eastside’s ARCH

Microsoft will invest $500 million toward regional housing

Mayors of nine cities — including Auburn, Kent, Federal Way, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Renton and Sammamish — have pledged to help

Exit poll indicates Washington voters still support climate change action

State environmental organizations’ poll points to continuing support for carbon-reducing measures.

Attendees gather after the Dec. 21, 2018, meeting at Seattle’s Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.
Washington indigenous communities push for action to address violence against women

A new law seeks to strength data collection on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Wikimedia Commons CFCF photo
Proposed law would raise age limit for tobacco sales in WA

Lawmakers cite health concerns over tobacco and vape products

Rape allegation against Sen. Joe Fain divides King County Council

In a recent interview, Councilmember Kathy Lambert blamed Fain’s accuser for the alleged rape. Then Lambert’s colleagues distanced themselves from her comments.

Safeco Field. FILE PHOTO
King County’s Safeco funding package might go to referendum vote

The initiative, filed by a group called “Citizens Against Sports Stadium Subsidies” could put the $135 million spending plan on the ballot early next year

Palouse wind farm in Eastern Washington. COURTESY PHOTO, Chris Weber, Flickr Creative Commons
Report reveals inequities of climate change in Washington

The poor and communities of color are affected the worst, according to UW study

Kent’s ShoWare Center first in line to get funds from county lodging tax

If revenues high enough, arena to get $200,000 per year

Photo by Cacophony/Wikipedia Commons
Safeco Field will get a new name next year

Seattle Mariners could make more than $100 million from naming rights.

King County Rolls on With Its Electric Bus Fleet Plans

With an overhaul set by 2040, a new report shows the economic and health benefits of going electric.