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A new scientific report on the health, economic, and environmental benefits of electric buses encourages other metropolitan regions to follow King County’s example to accelerate the transition to an all-electric bus fleet

The authors of a new study that quantifies the health, economic, and environmental benefit of electric buses honored King County Executive Dow Constantine as a national leader in the transition to zero-emission transit.

The comprehensive report by Environment Washington Research and Policy Center, WashPIRG Foundation, and Frontier Group found that electric buses cost less to maintain and operate and travel four times the distance per gallon than diesel-fueled buses. The authors encourage other metropolitan regions and school districts to follow King County’s lead to accelerate the transition to electric buses.

“We are investing in the clean-energy economy of the future, not the polluting fossil fuels of the past,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “With the partnerships we have created with utilities, vehicle manufacturers, and transit agencies across North America, we are well on our way to a 100-percent electric transit fleet.”

The report, titled “Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthier Neighborhoods and Cleaner Air,” shows that full transition to electric buses in Washington state could avoid an average of 89,567 tons of climate-altering pollution each year – the equivalent of taking 17,291 cars off the road. That would also produce better health outcomes by reducing exposure to toxic air pollution.

“We applaud King County for their leadership and commitment to electrifying transportation,” said Bruce Speight, Director of Environment Washington. “King County’s commitment to a 100 percent electrified bus system demonstrates that it can be done and provides an example for others to follow. This leadership will translate directly into a cleaner environment, less air and climate pollution, and healthier kids.”

“There’s no reason we should be running dirty, polluting buses in our communities when we have better, cleaner options,” said Elise Orlick, WashPIRG Foundation Director. “We have the technology to avoid this. Doing so could save more than 2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions nationally each year.

Under direction from Executive Constantine, King County Metro plans to purchase 120 all-electric buses by 2020 and is committed to electrifying its entire bus fleet by 2040. All electric battery buses offer a cleaner, quieter ride, significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve air quality.

“King County is committed to reducing our own carbon footprint, demonstrating that local jurisdictions and organizations can make a difference that has broad benefits to human health, the economy and the environment,” said King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci. “Electrifying our bus fleet advances this commitment in two ways: by providing efficient transit that reduces the number of vehicles needed to move large numbers of people and by making those vehicles emission-free. I’m proud of today’s announcement of new bus battery capacity that will move us closer to our goal of fully electrifying the fleet.”

“King County’s promotion of electrification of public transit is an important means of both addressing climate change and protecting health, said Laura Skelton, Executive Director of WA Physicians for Social Responsibility. "Transitioning to electric vehicles will help our communities realize immediate health benefits.”

"Zero emission buses mean cleaner air in our communities and less climate pollution for our planet - all while saving money in fuel costs and maintenance," added Jesse Piedfort, WA State Chapter Director of the Sierra Club. "King County's strong steps to electrify transportation are giving local communities a roadmap to leading on climate, even if Washington D.C. refuses to act."

On the same day the study was released, King County Metro demonstrated its new fast charging station at its Bellevue Base, the latest milestone toward building the infrastructure needed to operate a fleet of zero-emission electric buses. It is the first transit agency in North America to install a charging station at base facility so electric recharging is combined with cleaning and maintenance.

By using the buying power of one of the largest transit agencies in the United States, Executive Constantine is pushing the bus manufacturing industry to produce more electric buses, including 60-foot models. The study’s authors are encouraging other public transit agencies – as well as school districts – to follow King County’s lead so that more buses are fueled by renewable energy sooner.

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Environment Washington is a statewide environmental organization dedicated to protecting clean air, clean water and open spaces.