King County utilized the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) stimulus funds aimed at providing fuel efficient and environmentally friendly transportation to design this contract.

EK Coaches, a commercial bus dealer, bagged this contract through a bid process. StarTrans Bus, a Supreme Industries company, has provided the 22ft shuttle bus bodies with a capacity of up to 12 seated passengers plus two wheelchair positions. The vehicles are expected to be delivered later this year.

According to the company, the Balance hybrid electric buses can improve fuel economy by up to 40% and reduce maintenance cost by up to 30% while improving vehicle ‘up-time’ and therefore providing added revenue for the end-user.

King County’s adoption of the Balance hybrid electric is also expected to lead to 30% reduction of greenhouse emissions.

Jay Sandler, vice president of sales at Azure Azure Dynamics, said: “As environmental awareness grows and vehicle operating costs continue to escalate, we’re seeing strongly increased demand for our products from local governments and municipalities all across the country.

“Our Balance hybrid electric product specifically addresses those issues so we expect demand to continue to grow.”