The King County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to accelerate conversion of Metro buses and other King County vehicles to become zero-emission by 2035.

The plan speeds up conversion of Metro’s bus fleet to all-electric vehicles by five years, from 2040 to 2035. It also will accelerate the conversion of other county-owned vehicles to electric and create a robust charging infrastructure at county facilities, according to a county news release.

“With the passage of this ordinance, we have provided a much needed ‘jump start’ toward our effort to significantly reduce and eliminate carbon emissions from our county’s fleet,” Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, sponsor of the ordinance, said in the release.

“This will not be an easy task,” she said. “But we are running out of time and the climate crisis is only worsening. It is up to us to lead by showing the rest of the nation and world that we can transition to all-electric by utilizing the best available technology and by setting tough but achievable goals.”

According to a county staff report last fall, Metro displaces roughly four times more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than it generates.

“Nonetheless, Metro’s bus fleet is a large consumer of fuels,” the report said, noting Metro consumes about 10 million gallons of diesel fuel annually and emits about 80 percent of King County government’s GHG emissions from fossil fuels.

The legislation passed Tuesday, Ordinance No. 2019-0435, does not direct Metro to retire buses early, but it does set ambitious targets, Kohl-Welles said.

“It will be up to Metro to determine how it achieves those targets,” she said. “Clearly, meeting these targets will require a significant transformation to the fleet and the supporting infrastructure. And this is needed now because we are facing a crisis. A crisis that is only worsening.”

The proposal was advanced last year by Kohl-Welles as part of a broader package aimed at fighting climate change announced last October. The package also included a plan for a green jobs pipeline to help county workers convert their skills for the green jobs of the future and legislation to develop a climate action toolkit with local jurisdictions to help them create plans to reduce emissions countywide.