Spokane Transit Authority
|Slogan||How a great city moves.|
|Founded||1980 as the "Spokane Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority"|
|Headquarters||1230 W. Boone Ave. Spokane, WA 99201|
|Service area||248 square miles (642 km2)|
|Destinations||Airway Heights, Cheney, Medical Lake, Millwood, Liberty Lake, Spokane, Spokane Valley, unincorporated areas of Spokane County|
|Fleet||Buses: 148, Paratransit Vans: 118, Vanpool Vans: 111|
|Daily ridership||40,598 (weekday for all modes, 2012)|
|Annual ridership||11.77 million (all modes, 2012)|
|Chief executive||E. Susan Meyer|
Spokane Transit Authority, more commonly Spokane Transit or STA, provides public transportation services in the Spokane County Public Transportation Benefit Area and was founded in 1980 as a municipal corporation with roots to private transit operators extending back to 1888. The Spokane County PTBA extends approximately 248 square miles (640 km2), including the Cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Airway Heights, Medical Lake, and the Town of Millwood, and unincorporated areas in and around the cities. As of 2013, the Spokane County PTBA had an estimated population of 405,302.
Spokane Transit provides multiple services:
- Fixed Route Bus Service. Spokane Transit operates 34 bus routes throughout its service area on published schedules. Most routes run 365 days a year. Additionally, STA operates routes during major community events such as the Lilac Bloomsday Run.
- Paratransit. Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Spokane Transit provides accessible transportation to persons with disabilities within 3⁄4 mile (1 km) of every fixed route.
- Vanpool. A service which matches people traveling to or from similar locations and provides a publicly owned van at a fixed price per mile.
Spokane Transit has 34 fixed routes operating year-round on published schedules. Routes are numbered to reflect geographic or service attributes:
Most routes operate 365 days a year with the exception of the commuter express routes and the "1 Plaza/Arena Shuttle." Routes have distinct weekday, Saturday and Sunday schedule patterns. Major holidays operate on a Sunday schedule.
Fixed routes (as of 9/15/2013):
Fares and passes
As of February 2011, single ride regular fares cost $1.50, and VIP fares cost $0.75. Day passes for adults and VIPs are $3.50 and are good for unlimited rides for the remainder of the day that the pass was issued. Adult 31-day passes are $45.00, and VIP 31-day passes are $22.50. Paper transfers were discontinued in December 2006. In its place is a Two-Hour Pass that works as a transfer on any route for two-hours from the time it is issued on the bus.
Spokane Transit provides multiple fare instruments, including employee, youth, and college passes. Additionally, organizations may participate in the Universal Transit Access Pass (UTAP) program with a "utility charge" for each ride taken by eligible participants. Spokane Transit currently maintains UTAP contracts with Eastern Washington University for students, faculty and staff; WSU Spokane for students, faculty and staff; City of Spokane for employees and elected officials; and, Spokane County for employees and elected officials. A grant will fund the introduction of the UTAP program for students at the Community Colleges of Spokane in January 2014.
Passenger facilities and amenities
- Bus Stops. At the end of 2012, Spokane Transit served 1,752 bus stops throughout its service area.
- Park and Ride Lots. Spokane Transit operates park-and-ride facilities throughout its service area, and has cooperative agreements with other property owners to allow parking access to transit services.
- Transit Centers. Spokane Transit provides three transit centers:The Plaza, in downtown Spokane; The Pence-Cole Valley Transit Center (VTC) in Spokane Valley, and a transit center at Spokane Community College.
- Bicycle Accommodation. Bike racks are available on all buses serving all fixed routes. Most park and ride lots feature bike lockers that can be rented on a monthly basis.
Fixed route fleet
Spokane Transit currently has 153 buses in its fleet. Included in the fleet are:
|New Flyer D40LF||40'||40||1997||25||9701-9725||9701, 9704, 9709, 9712, and 9718 are retired|
|New Flyer D60LF||61'||60-62||2002||3||2261-2263||Purchased used from New Flyer, formerly operated by OC Transpo|
|Gillig Low Floor||29'||24||2003||10||2330-2339||Some units may be sold|
|Gillig Low Floor||35'||32||2003||13||2301-2013|
|Gillig Low Floor||40'||39||2006||19||2601-2619|
|Gillig HEV||29'||24||2009||3||9031-9033||Special livery for "Downtown Shuttle" (Routes 1 and 2)|
Spokane Transit is governed by a board of directors which includes nine positions filled by elected officials who must be appointed by the municipal jurisdictions that form the agency, and one position appointed by the Board upon recommendation by the labor organizations representing the public transportation employees within the local public transportation system pursuant to state law.
Originally, the board consisted of 2 members from the City of Spokane, 2 members from the Spokane County Commission, 1 member from each of the Cities of Airway Heights, Cheney, Medical Lake, and the Town of Millwood, and one additional member alternately held by an official from the City of Spokane and Spokane County.
The City of Liberty Lake was incorporated on August 2001, and the City of Spokane Valley was incorporated on March 2003, necessitating a change in board membership. Now the board consists of:
- City of Spokane, 3 members
- Spokane County, 2 members
- City of Spokane Valley, 2 members
- The small cities, 2 members (combined)
- Labor representative, 1 member (non-voting)
The small cities of Airway Heights, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Medical Lake, and Millwood rotate membership in three-year terms:
- 2011: Liberty Lake and Medical Lake
- 2012: Medical Lake and Millwood
- 2013: Medical Lake and Millwood
- 2014: Millwood and Cheney
- 2015: Cheney and Airway Heights
- 2016: Cheney and Airway Heights
- 2017: Airway Heights and Liberty Lake
Transit history in the Spokane area dates back more than 125 years beginning with the inaugural trip of a horse-drawn streetcar running between downtown Spokane and the Browne's Addition neighborhood to the west in 1888. The first electrically-powered streetcar began operations November 1889 and traveled between downtown Spokane through what is now the University District. Over the next several decades, multiple private interests constructed and operated streetcars and cable cars typically as an integral part of a real estate development plan.
By 1896, the leading streetcar system was the Spokane Street Railway Company, with 23 miles of railway. Its network of lines was described as a "cartwheel" that emanated from a "hub" at the intersection of Riverside Avenue and Howard Street in downtown Spokane.
By 1910, streetcar lines were owned and operated by two competing companies: Washington Water Power and Spokane Traction Company. In addition to urban street railways, each company had interests in electric Interurban lines that stretched as far away as Moscow, ID. In that year, streetcar and interurban ridership peaked at 37.98 million rides.
The decade following 1910 was a time of intense competition for the streetcars, with growing automobile ownership and private jitneys that threatened the viability of a divided transit system. By the end of the decade, Spokane Traction Company fell into receivership and underwent reorganizations that were unsuccessful in returning the system to profitability. In 1922, Spokane citizens overwhelmingly voted to amend the city charter to reduce taxes and other special assessments imposed on streetcar operations and infrastructure, enabling the formation of a unified streetcar system featuring "universal transfers" between lines and empowering the company to convert some lines to trolleybuses on its own discretion. Following the successful measure, the Spokane United Railway Company was formed as a subsidiary to Washington Water Power (later, Avista Corporation), creating a unified electric streetcar system.
The street railway system was gradually phased out through the 1930s to make way for motorized coaches. Bus ridership reached a peak in the Spokane area in 1946 with 26 million passengers.
Upon acquisition by the city, funding for the system was derived from a household tax. After the formation of the Public Transportation Benefit Area in 1980, and the establishment of a 0.3% sales tax within the area on April 1981, services were provided by Spokane Transit.
At the urging of the downtown business community, Spokane Transit built a transit center in 1995 to replace the historic Howard and Riverside hub which required that buses park along many downtown streets for passengers to make transfers. Not only was this uncomfortable for passengers, who were forced to wait for buses in the weather, but it also made the streetside businesses less accessible to customers. The bus center, known as "The Plaza" was constructed as an indoor urban park at a cost of approximately $20 million including property acquisition costs. With its high, daylight ceiling, imported Italian tile, and cougar statues leaping over a waterfall between the up- and down- escalators, it generated great controversy.
In addition to the local sales tax, a major revenue source was Washington State's motor vehicle excise tax which provided matching funds. After statewide initiative I-695 was passed in 1999, the legislature eliminated the matching funds even though the initiative was later found unconstitutional. See also List of Washington initiatives.
The period after the elimination of the motor vehicle excise tax was a time of unprecedented change for Spokane Transit. As its undesignated cash reserves balance fell, Spokane Transit attempted to increase its tax authority from 0.3% to 0.6% in September 2002, but it was rejected by voters 48% to 52%.
Spokane Transit created task force to study changes that could be made to regain the support of the community, while simultaneously preparing for a potential 40% service decrease. After increased public participation, and 69% voter approval, Spokane Transit increased the sales tax from 0.3% to 0.6% in October 2004, subject to a sunset of the tax in 2009. In May 2008, voters reauthorized the additional 0.3% sales tax with no sunset clause.
Peer transit systems
- Ben Franklin Transit (Kennewick-Pasco UZA)
- C-TRAN (Vancouver portion of the Portland, Oregon UZA)
- Community Transit (Suburban Snohomish County portion of the Seattle-Everett UZA)
- Everett Transit (Everett portion of the Seattle-Everett UZA)
- King County Metro Transit (Seattle and King County suburban portions of the Seattle-Everett UZA)
- Pierce Transit (Tacoma UZA)
- Sound Transit (Seattle-Everett UZA and Tacoma UZA)
Among transit systems in Washington State, Spokane Transit tends to achieve high efficiency and effectiveness levels despite the rather suburban nature of its service area.
|Cost per Passenger||$4.00||$4.67|
|Cost per Mile||$7.82||$10.18|
|Cost per Revenue Hour||$109.00||$142.23|
|Passengers per Hour||27.3||30.5|
|Passengers per Mile||1.96||2.2|
These 2011 performance measure data depicted above indicate a lower cost per passenger and cost per revenue hour of service for Spokane Transit compared to total fixed route operations in Washington State. In 2005, an average 20.81 unlinked passenger trips took place per revenue hour of fixed route service. By 2011 that figure jump to 27.27 unlinked passenger trips per revenue hour. This dramatic increase in service productivity has minimized growth in the cost per passenger despite growth in fuel costs, health benefits and other inflation factors during that period.
Spokane Transit participates in regional transportation and land use planning activities. It is a member jurisdiction of the Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC), and sends a member of its board to serve on SRTC's board.
SRTC and STA jointly created the Light Rail Steering Committee (LRSC) which was responsible for studying the creation of a light rail corridor from downtown Spokane to Liberty Lake. This effort, beginning in 2000, was preceded by significant study by the SRTC. In 2006 the committee published a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) which evaluated several rail and bus alternatives for the corridor. The committee stated preference for a single-track rail corridor using diesel multiple units (DMU) that would cost less than half the conventional light rail system. The travel demand modeling performed as part of the DEIS forecast less than 3,500 daily boardings on the 15.5 mile system in 2025. As a comparison, the 19-mile TRAX light rail system in Salt Lake City has over 43,000 daily boardings. An advisory vote in 2006 elicited a negative response to continued planning and investment in the light rail project.
In 2008, transit consultants Nelson-Nygaard Associates recommended changes to transit operations downtown while retaining the use of the Plaza transfer facility.
In 2010, STA developed a preliminary proposal for what it calls a "High Performance Transit Network" (HPTN) composed of 14 corridors of premium all-day frequent transit service. The preliminary proposal does not specify the operating modes for each corridor but suggests that the corridors will operate at a speed appropriate to the access provided and urban characteristics of the operating environment. The HPTN vision is an element of the agency's proposed comprehensive plan, referred to as "Connect Spokane."
Also in 2010, STA and the City of Spokane initiated an alternatives analysis to study transit improvements in and around the downtown core. This "central city transit alternatives analysis" will look at "High Performance Transit" improvements that can be made to increase mobility and stimulate in-fill development. The timeline for the study calls for a "locally preferred alternative" to be determined by early 2011.
- "Spokane Transit Authority : Overview". Ntdprogram.gov. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- "Spokane County Public Transportation Area Map". Spokanetransit.com. 2008. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- "OFM | Special Areas". Ofm.wa.gov. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- "Annual Route Report, 2012 Operating Data". Spokanetransit.com. pp. 15–17. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- "Performance Report - Passenger Facilities 1st Edition". Spokanetransit.com. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- "RCW 36.57A.050: Governing body — Selection, qualification, number of members — Travel expenses, compensation". Apps.leg.wa.gov. 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- Kershner, Jim (2007-01-29). "the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- Kershner, Jim (2007-01-25). "the Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- "WSDOT - Washington State Summary of Public Transportation". Wsdot.wa.gov. 2013-12-20. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
- List of United States light rail systems by ridership
Washington State Summary of Public Transportation - 2003 by Washington State Department of Transportation Public Transportation and Rail Division (September 2004)