It’s too late to pitch the first penny into the waterfall in Spokane’s downtown bus station.
That honor went to some anonymous user on opening day Sunday - someone, perhaps, who wished for a place to sit, a piano to play or espresso to sip while waiting for the bus.
Those things will come later, said Art Thoma, project manager for the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza. It was enough Sunday and Monday that most riders caught their buses with little trouble and most buses came and went on time.
The stairs are closed for tile work and the down escalator was on the blink for a while Monday morning.
Otherwise, “it’s gone without a hitch,” said Thoma, who expected a couple of weeks of hitches.
Thoma expects more seats and benches to arrive soon. Eventually, there will be shops and restaurants on the second floor, along with a piano if STA can convince a music shop to donate one.
“It takes time,” he said.
Bus riders during the center’s first rush hour, Monday morning, craned their necks to look up at the skylights, followed the brass cougar paw prints in the tile leading to the waterfall and leaned over the second-floor glass railings to watch the crowd below.
“This is beautiful,” said Ray Hanrahm, a retired North Side resident who snapped pictures inside the center. “This is an asset to downtown, the start of good things.”
Jim Breen, another regular bus rider, pointed his cane at a security camera and said he was glad to see it, the police desk and the roving security guards.
“No hoodlums like to see a copper in the building,” he said. “The older people will probably start thinking it’s a little bit safer” to ride the bus.
For Laura Pucker, a clerk at Whiz Kids toy store, the beauty of the center isn’t its architecture. It’s that smokers no longer must wait outside her store to catch one of the many buses that used to form a wall on Riverside.
“That was what I did the first thing in the morning: go out and sweep the butts into the street,” said the former smoker.
While praise for the $20.6 million building and amenities was repeated during the center’s first rush hour Monday morning, some riders said the cost is too high.
The center cost nearly $9 million more than STA officials estimated in 1991.
“It’s a classic example of government waste. It’s disgusting,” said Alan Coalson, an accountant who works in the Seafirst Financial Center next door.
David Smith, a counter-culture rider with a goatee tattooed on his chin, was more stunned than outraged.
“I don’t understand what this place is for, with the waterfall and the glass,” he said.
“It’s a good idea to have all the buses come to one place, but it seems like they could have done that with a big parking lot.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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