Friday, September 21, 2018

Check Out the New Swift Buses!
Two in Service This Month, More Coming Soon

Two new Swift buses are entering service this month to support the 20 percent expansion of Blue Line weekday service, and 16 more will be added in the months leading up to the launch of Swift Green Line.

A little different: flatter front, USB ports, all-diesel engine

Long-time riders of Swift will notice a few differences between the original buses and the new Xcelsior model buses (New Flyer no longer manufacturers the original model).

The exterior of the new buses have a flatter front, making them almost two feet shorter. This means that the three passenger doors may not be perfectly centered with the welcome mats when the bus stops at a Swift station – but most people probably won’t notice the difference.

In the interior, the bike racks and wheelchair passive restraint systems are the same, but passenger seats are arranged in a slightly different configuration... and each seat has a USB port!

Individual USB ports are a feature that will be included on all new buses from now on, including Double Talls.

Finally, while the original Swift buses have hybrid diesel-electric engines, the new buses run solely on the biodiesel blend that the agency uses.

Diesel: cheaper to buy, cheaper to maintain, kind to the air

The decision to move away from the hybrid buses for Swift is a result of a years-long study conducted by Community Transit that directly compared buses with hybrid engines to buses with diesel engines.

In 2011, Community Transit purchased 24 new New Flyer buses, 15 with all-diesel engines and nine of the same model with diesel-electric hybrid engines. The 24 buses were deployed onto the same local routes, where hybrids could be expected to perform most efficiently because of the more frequent stops and starts.

The study found that diesel engines emit as few particulates into the air as hybrids do – and are much less expensive to maintain.

"Hybrids cost more to purchase and more to maintain, far outweighing their fuel savings," said Ken Bailey, manager of Community Transit’s vehicle maintenance division. "Fortunately, from an emissions standpoint, modern diesel buses are as clean as hybrid buses."

Community Transit is also looking at the future of electric buses. At this point, the current technology can't meet the agency's need for buses to travel at least 250 miles per day on one charge, but other agencies in the region are trying them out. In fact, King County Metro is the largest electric bus test market in the country, and Community Transit is paying close attention.

"When the technology advances enough to make sense for us to run electric buses," said Bailey, "we will."

New buses will be used on all Swift lines

Swift buses will be used interchangeably between lines, so after the Green Line launches both Blue Line and Green Line riders will have a chance of getting on a new bus.

Another 15 buses will be purchased around 2023 to replace the original Swift fleet, which went into service in 2009. An unspecified number more Swift buses will be purchased around the same time to support the opening of the Orange Line between Mill Creek and Lynnwood and the extension of the Blue Line to 185th Street, both planned to occur when Link light rail comes to Lynnwood in 2024.

What do you like best about the new buses? Have you ridden on one yet? Tell us what you think in the comments below!


  1. Are the USB ports 1 or 2 amp? Hopefully they are power only.

    1. Hello! The ports supply 5V @2.1 AMPS total. Power only! ^LM