The nation’s first electric-vehicle vanpools quietly fired up their engines at a dedication ceremony at Seattle Children’s on Tuesday, August 30, as four Nissan LEAF cars were added to the commute options for Children’s employees as part of King County’s new “Metropool.” The LEAF, which seats five people, is a 100% electric, no gas, no tailpipe, no emissions vehicle with an estimated driving range of 100 miles on a single charge.

The LEAF cars join King County Metro Transit’s vanpool fleet – the largest public vanpool program in the United States. They enhance what is already one of the cleanest and greenest transit systems in North America. Metro’s Rideshare Operations has committed to purchasing 20 Nissan LEAF vehicles to pilot electric-vehicle technology in a commuter application called “Metropool.” The agency will coordinate the installation of charging stations at major employer sites and multi-modal transportation hubs like park-and-rides and ferry terminals.

The first phase of the initiative involves Children’s employees using four of the program’s zero-emission cars. ECOtality’s Blink charging stations have been installed on the Children’s campus to support the program.

“Every day, 60% of Children’s staff take alternative commutes to work, many of them in vanpools,” said Lisa Brandenburg, chief administrative officer at Children’s. “Alternative commutes taken by our employees since September of 2009 have kept almost nine million pounds of carbon emissions out of the air. By adding these zero emission all-electric Nissan LEAF Metropool vehicles to our vanpool program, we will be able to reduce Children’s carbon footprint even further.”

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