Dave and Carole Sykes figure Spokane’s trolley buses give the city an edge over Seattle.
“It’s the neatest thing since plum sauce,” Dave Sykes of Federal Way, Wash., said Tuesday, as rain pelted the window beside his seat on the trolley. “We rode it yesterday just to ride it.”
A growing number of Spokane residents apparently agree.
Ridership increased 43 percent in the year since the trolley replicas were added to the shuttle route between downtown and the Spokane Arena parking lot.
That increase came even though riders had to pay to use that parking lot since summer.
By comparison, the number of people riding all Spokane Transit Authority buses increased about 5 percent in the same period.
STA spokeswoman Teresa Stuekle said riders showed “almost instant acceptance” of the brass-and oak-trimmed buses, which cost $182,000 apiece.
Stuekle said cute buses are just one factor in the increase. For instance, STA reduced the price for riding the shuttle from 35 cents to 25 cents.
“That’s only 10 cents, but it’s one coin instead of two,” said Stuekle.
The shuttles now run every five to 10 minutes, rather than every 20 minutes, and STA added all-day service on Saturdays, when the buses used to run only during peak hours.
Given the increased service, the number of riders per trip actually is lower than before the shuttles were added, although exact numbers aren’t available.
Also, the shuttle route was shifted from Lincoln Street to Monroe Street, making it more convenient for workers at the county courthouse, where inexpensive parking is at a premium.
Parking is also more expensive downtown since the City Council reinstalled parking meters last year.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: STA ridership