Today, while I was waiting in the U District for a 25 to take me Downtown, a shiny new articulated trolley pulled into the stop. Its signs said: TEST. There were several people in Metro uniforms, and a couple in suits, up front. There was a man in the very back, surrounded by electric equipment and large white boxes (which I guessed were weights to simulate a passenger load). On the side, near the back, were the words: “Electric Trolley” and “Zero Emissions”.

My first impression: It was pretty, with nice modern, curving lines. But it was just an articulated trolley, and Metro has plenty of those. Phillip and I rode to the U District this morning in an articulated trolley. This one was a newer model, that’s all. I though that pointing out that it’s electric, with zero emissions, was kind of odd. It’s not like we’ve never seen a bus powered by overhead electric wires before.

The head count on the 25, at Lakeview and Boylston was: 12 passengers, including me. That’s actually rather impressive for this route. I’ll keep saying this: Route 25 needs a micro-bus. There are areas this route serves that have no other bus routes nearby.

While I was waiting for the 43 this evening, at 4th and Pike, that zero emissions, electric trolley, test bus rounded the corner from 3rd Avenue. I don’t know if it was the same bus I saw this morning. This evening’s bus was numbered 4500. I’d forgotten this morning’s bus number. I’m assuming I saw the same test vehicle twice today.

Bus 4500 pulled into the bus stop. Of course, it wasn’t taking passengers. Then its poles lowered remotely. The traffic light turned green, and bus 4500 proceeded up Pike Street, with its poles still down.

I then understood the need to point out “Electric Trolley” and “Zero Emissions”. This was not a hybrid bus, like Metro used to use in the transit tunnel – able to run on a diesel engine on the street, and then switch to electric wires in the tunnel. This new bus is a fully electric vehicle, able to receive power from overhead wires, or to run off of batteries.

I was impressed.

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