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Photo by Tim Mack

Photo by Tim Mack
(Click photos to enlarge)

Fleet #'s:
- 900-910, 912-1009
- 10240 T
- General Electric 1213J5
- Randtronics DC chopper
- 40' 6"
- 8' 6"
- 27,680 lbs.
- 45 passengers
- $136,069 (1979 dollars)

Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (Metro) #1008 is one of 109 electric trolley buses purchased in 1979 to fulfill a 1972 campaign promise to continue and expand quiet, zero emission electric transit made to Seattle and King County voters as part of the effort to establish the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (Metro) as a county-wide transit agency. The trolleys were purchased under a joint procurement with Philadelphia's South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority - SEPTA. with Metro ordering 109 buses and SEPTA 110 buses.

These new fleets were the first trolley buses built in the United States since the mid 1950's, the first fleet of trolley buses in North America to Utilize DC chopper propulsion and the first new delivery of trolley coaches to Seattle since World War II. The DC chopper provided a much smoother, step-less electronic acceleration with less power consumption compared to the switched resistor controls used on previous trolley buses.

Up until that time Seattle's trolley fleet consisted of 59 World War II era Twin Coach and Pullman-Standard trolley coaches which were the scant remnants of the Seattle Transit System's once expansive trolley bus fleet that numbered 307 vehicles. These coaches had been kept in service by creative and hard working mechanics using used parts from scrapped trolley buses stashed in barrels at both Jefferson and Atlantic Base. On January 21, 1978 the existing electric trolley bus system were shut down for a total rebuilding and expansion that would once again electrify many of the city's original trackless trolley routes to the Rainier Valley, First Hill, Capitol Hill and Queen Anne Hill.

The new trolleys were built by the AM General Corporation of South Bend, Indiana. The new trolleys joined 225 AM General "Metropolitan" diesel coaches already in Metro's fleet. One of these coaches, #1122, has also been preserved in the King County Metro Transit Historic Fleet. AM General had a working relationship with Canada's Flyer Industries in Winnipeg to use their coach design. The new trolley buses had a number of design and quality control problems. Similar issues had earned their AMG motor coach counterparts the nickname "Gremlins", which was also the name of a subcompact car manufacured by its parent company AMC at the time.

The first day of service for the new buses and the newly rehabilitated overhead and power distribution system was September 15, 1979 on Routes 2 West Queen Anne/Madrona Park and the 10 Capitol Hill. In addition to the coach problems the newly rebuilt trolley overhead power distribution system had a number of problems including an inability to maintain operation after lightning strikes. For a time this combination of problems made trolley service in Seattle problematic until both systems could be debugged. These problems were solved, and on May 23, 1981 the last route from the trolley rehabilitation and expansion program, the new Route 43, entered service.

AM General produced buses for a relatively short time from 1974 through 1979, building nearly 5,500 coaches during this period (not including the articulated coaches finished under a builder's agreement with MAN). This was a sizable hit to the market share of both General Motors and Flxible, then the nation's two biggest bus builders at that time.

The AM General trolleys began their service at Jefferson Base, a wooden streetcar barn built in 1909 and converted to trackless trolleys in 1940 during Seattle's rails to rubber conversion. The first 30 coaches were delivered with TD&T wheelchair lifts that Metro had found to be operationally unacceptable. The remaining 79 coaches were delivered with a standard front step and no lift. Metro later refitted all 109 trolley coaches with a "Lift-U" lift. In June 1982 Jefferson closed for the last time and the trolley fleet was moved to Atlantic Base. Later modifications to this fleet included the installation of Delachaux retrievers and an ergonomic driver's station with a Recaro seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel and wrap around driver's barrier. In 1987 forty-six MAN articulated trolley buses, fleet #4000-4045, were added bringing the trolley fleet up to 155 coaches.

King County Metro Transit's AM General trolleys were phased out of service in 2002 and 2003 after 24 years of service. Each coach had traveled about 450,000 miles during its career at Metro being on the road for over 67,000 hours. While the AM General trolleys have been retired they live on through the fleet of 100 new Gillig trolley buses that utilize their traction motors, propulsion controls, air compressors and other components. This ultimate in recycling saved over $200,000 per coach over ordering completely new trolleys, saving $20 million dollars for the fleet order. The Gillig trolleys join 505 Gillig diesel coaches, a mainstay in Metro's fleet, along with 70 Gilligs owned by Sound Transit and operated by King County Metro Transit. Fifty some AM General trolley buses are still on the roster in Philadelphia.

In 2003 coach #1008 was retired and slated for inclusion in the King County Metro Transit Historic Fleet. This coach has been repainted in the original Metro "Sunrise" paint scheme of brown, yellow and ochre. The original drivers station has been reinstalled and as well as the original Earll retrievers. The coach even sports a restored Cleveland fare box.

Photo by Keith Sherry

The Ohio Museum of Transportation AM General history page.