Two sites in Auburn and one in Kent are under consideration by King County Metro for a new bus base to service and house as many as 250 electric buses starting in 2030.
After an initial review of 20 potential sites in South King County, Metro will gather public input and conduct a more in-depth evaluation of the three sites, according to a Metro news release on Wednesday.
The base will exclusively serve Metro’s electric bus fleet, and will be designed to include charging infrastructure.
Three finalist sites
• Site A: 25 to 38 acres in Kent at South 196th Street and 68th Avenue South
• Site B: 18 to 26 acres in Auburn at South 277th Street and D Street Northeast
• Site C: 38 acres in Auburn at 37th Street Northwest and B Street Northwest
King County Metro’s seven existing bus bases are over capacity and unable to meet the increased service needs for the growing region. The agency’s plan calls for adding bus base capacity in strategic locations like South King County, and estimates $480 million to purchase a site, build and open the base as soon as 2030.
“With new base capacity, Metro will be positioned to meet the transit needs of our growing region,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in the news release. “We are committed to greening our Metro fleet, and operating a zero-emission bus base in South King County will provide cleaner air to a part of the region where residents have historically experienced a greater share of pollution from cars and trucks.”
“We don’t just want to build a bus base in south King County, we want to strengthen our relationships and be a true part of the community for generations to come,” said King County Metro General Manager Rob Gannon. “An investment like this also will be an opportunity for drivers, mechanics and all our staff to connect with the community as we serve the public each day.”
A South County location will enable Metro to provide more efficient service to current and future routes and contribute to the physical, environmental, and economic health of nearby communities. The long-range plan to increase base capacity – and thereby transit service – will give people convenient alternatives to driving alone and will contribute to the region’s efforts to address our climate crisis.
The zero-emission, all-electric battery bus fleet also will help improve the air quality in south King County, where people are most vulnerable to air pollution. Metro also expects the South County base will spur economic development, providing jobs during planning, construction and long-term operations at the facility. Metro did not list the potential number of jobs.
Consistent with King County’s Green Building Ordinance and Strategic Climate Action Plan, the base will be built, maintained and operated consistent with the highest green building and sustainable development practices.
A base farther south will allow buses in the Metro system to be redistributed, a move which is expected to reduce the travel costs of buses when they are traveling between the start points of their trips.
Site selection process
Metro and a team of consultants completed an initial land search in early 2019, identifying and evaluating 20 potential properties in South King County. Of those 20 sites, three were selected for further evaluation based in part on size, shape, topography and access to major arterials and highways.
The preference is for a site that is mostly rectangular and flat, approximately 30 acres, where an all-electric battery bus base would be compatible with existing and planned surrounding land use and reasonably available for future development along with providing opportunities to advance social equity and sustainability.
During the site review and evaluation process, sites may be added or removed based on emerging information or properties becoming available.
Metro will conduct outreach to communities and organizations near the three sites to gather input on opportunities and challenges associated with a proposed facility. The sites also will undergo rigorous technical analysis and extensive environmental review as required by state and federal laws, as well as other studies that could influence Metro’s decision on a final site.
After the technical and environmental analysis is complete, Metro will seek to acquire the land, design the base, and construct the facility, with operations anticipated as early as 2030.
Throughout the process during the next several years, Metro will stay in touch with the community and keep the public informed of progress and milestones. Sign-up for project updates at kingcounty.gov/metro/bases.