Metro officials have signed an $89 million contract for 360 diesel buses to replace King County’s aging fleet.
County Executive Gary Locke chose the diesel buses over cleaner natural-gas-powered buses, saving the county nearly $100 million.
Gillig Corp. of Hayward, Calif., is making the buses, the first of which is to arrive in about a year.
County officials signed the contract Monday for 345 40-foot buses and 15 35-foot buses.
Many buses in the aging Metro fleet are 15 to 17 years old. The industry norm is to replace buses every 12 to 14 years.
The new buses will be the foundation for Locke’s 6-year plan to restructure Metro’s routes, focusing on suburb-to-suburb service in the county and better east-west connections in Seattle.
“They not only will help us provide more responsive service, but they’ll also be more comfortable for riders and will meet the most stringent federal air pollution emission standards,” Locke said.
The buses will have more comfortable seating, with more space between seats, and the driver ergonomics will be better, said Gillig spokesman Brian MacLeod.