May 16, 2014

Seattle Rideshare Fleet Adds EVs, Enjoys Success

The project successfully demonstrated that EVs can compete head-to-head with conventional gasoline vehicles in the rideshare duty cycle. EVs generated cost savings and big environmental wins.      
Syd Pawlowski, King County Metro Rideshare Operations

Since 1979, Seattle-based King County Metro Rideshare Operations has managed the largest publicly owned and operated commuter van program in the nation. The organization introduced its first all-electric vehicles--20 Nissan Leafs--into its 1,300-vehicle revenue fleet in 2011. Because of the vehicles' high customer satisfaction, positive return on investment, and increasing demand, Rideshare Operations purchased an additional five electric vehicles (EVs) last year.

Metropool is Rideshare Operations' EV rideshare program, and it's one of the nation's first. The Rideshare Operations team, led by Supervisor Syd Pawlowski, was involved in concept development, policy review, and placement of charging stations. The team garnered support from Western Washington Clean Cities and major employers in the region to help spread the word. Together, they reached out to commuters, introducing Metropool as a cost-effective transportation choice.

The coalition was engaged in the project from its inception, working with stakeholders ChargeNW, Ecotality, and Puget Sound Regional Council to study EV deployment and associated infrastructure. "As a result of our thorough analysis, we allocated infrastructure intelligently and in a way that supported Metropool," said Coalition Coordinator Stephanie Meyn. The coalition also assisted Metro Rideshare Operations with calculating EV life cycle emissions.

King County's capital budget funded the procurement of the first 20 EVs. The coalition provided funding from a competitive Clean Cities ARRA award to install three EV charging stations that were deployed at the King County Van Distribution Center.

An assessment of the EV program conducted in 2013 showed very positive results, including the following:

  • During the course of their seven-year life in the commuter van program, the EVs will collectively reduce petroleum use by an estimated 218,000 gallons over prior modes of transportation.
  • The rates Metropool participants paid were reduced by 5%, based on the measured cost savings.
  • Fleet greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be reduced by 24 metric tons per month in 2014 compared with emissions prior to the EV program.
"The project successfully demonstrated that EVs can compete head-to-head with conventional gasoline vehicles in the rideshare duty cycle," said Pawlowski. "EVs generated cost savings and big environmental wins."
This photo shows a driver plugging in one of King County Metro Rideshare Operations electric vehicles.