As we celebrate Earth Day 2023 on April 22, King County Metro understands our role in meeting the challenge of climate change in our region. “Invest in Our Planet” will remain the theme for 2023 and Metro will maintain its focus on our investments in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The most visible investment we are making can be seen in our buses. But the changes taking place in our facilities and the expansion of our mobility services providing riders with greater options on leaving their vehicles at home are just as vital.

Investments in our buses

In 2023, Metro celebrates the first anniversary of “charging up” our next generation battery-electric buses. These buses reduce tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 65 tons a year!

The use of the 40-and 60-foot coaches has expanded from three routes to providing rides to passengers on several routes throughout the region.

The buses, which have amassed over 100,000 miles on the road in the last year, are operating primarily in south King County, in communities affected by air pollution and climate change.

These 40 buses are the first step in our commitment to transition our fleet to 100% zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy by 2035. King County’s adopted 2023-2024 Budget includes funding to buy the next round of battery-electric buses.

While we celebrate the new kids on the block, we shouldn’t forget Metro’s first emission-free fleet: our electric trolley buses. The 174 buses still serving riders throughout Seattle will see additional coaches purchased to support the fleet.

Investments in our charging infrastructure

Metro’s battery-electric future is only as good as the infrastructure that supports it. We continue to invest in the equipment needed to support charging of our vehicles. The South Base Test Facility that is the home of the current battery-electric bus fleet will be our blueprint for how we will design future bus bases. The chargers at the base will determine what infrastructure will be needed to support the next group of battery-electric buses at bases, as well as at our layover locations.

An investment saving energy and money!

As we look at the infrastructure to support our buses, we’re also preparing for the future of the facilities that will house the chargers, vehicles and staff, more importantly, the lights that will help them see! Metro is celebrating the completion of project that took close to a decade to accomplish—the transition of our buildings to LED lighting.

How does changing light bulbs impact our environment?

A new LED fixture ready to be attached

It’s an energy saver—upgraded light reduces Metro’s power use by close to 11,000,000 Kilowatt hours (kWh) annually, enough to power 915 homes. The transition to LEDs also reduced our electricity use by over 30 percent, compared to 2014, in large part because of our LED upgrades. So new lights not only help us in meeting our goals as part of King County’s Strategic Climate Action Plan, it also saves us money, we’re paying $880,000 less in annual electricity costs.

Investing in providing greater mobility options

Metro’s best tool in reducing GHG and slowing climate change is offering mobility options that encourage people to leave their cars at home and take advantage of our stress-free and environmentally friendly services. That option could be using our new RapidRide H Line to get from Burien to downtown Seattle. Other RapidRides are on their way, routes that will provide frequent service and connections to support commuting and everyday travel.

Mobility options also include being able to download the Metro Flex app and using our new on-demand service to book rides in Juanita, Kent, Othello, Rainier Beach, Renton Highlands, Sammamish, Skyway and Tukwila. Or encouraging your children 18 years and younger to ride to their destination for free! Each option is an opportunity to combat climate change.

Metro’s environmental investments are focused on meeting current challenges while never taking our eyes from the future, building a sustainable transit system that creates equitable, healthy communities and a greener planet.