Each weekday Fred Anderson makes the 100-mile round trip trek from his condo in downtown Spokane to his job in Newport, Wash. For most people, the commute wouldn’t be worth the cost in gasoline. But for Anderson, who uses a daily shuttle service to and from work, the price tag is a mere $6 per day.
Anderson, who works for the Pend Oreille County Assessor’s Office, has been splitting his time between Newport and a condominium in Browne’s Addition since February. For the first few months, he made the round trip commute in his ‘94 Ford four-wheel drive pickup, which he says cost him a pretty penny in gas.
“The last month I bought gas, the tab came to $485,” he says.
At the time, he worked only four days a week in an effort to cut back on his monthly mileage. Since he started using Special Mobility Services, a shuttle that provides transportation services in the region, he has gone back to a five-day workweek.
“The shuttle will deliver you anywhere in town,” he says.
Anderson’s particular SMS route starts in Spokane and ends in Priest River, with stops along the way, including his office in Newport.
“You have to be somewhat flexible, ” he says. “But it’s $6 a day versus $24 per day to drive.”
A Newport native who has lived in the small town off and on his whole life, Anderson recently sold his residence there following a divorce.
“I left a good-sized home in Newport, with a big living room and lots of windows near the river,” he says, adding that he struggled to find a smaller, more affordable home in the area.
“Anything decent is at least $195,000,” he says.
Today, he’s in the process of downsizing to 975 square feet plus storage and one parking space at his riverside condo in Browne’s Addition.
Although Anderson is currently the mayor of Newport, he is expected to resign his post as a result of the move to Spokane. But he plans to continue working as a real estate valuator for Pend Oreille County, thanks to his affordable shuttle route. And while he admits the commute can sometimes be a hassle, Anderson says it is worth the tradeoff to live in downtown Spokane.
“Five years ago if anybody told me I was going to be living in downtown Spokane, I’d have told you you’re crazy,” he says. “Now it’d be hard to get me out of here.”
Anderson walks to Rosauers to shop, and to the Elk pub to socialize.
“It hardly pays to fire up a car,” he says.
He also enjoys being able to lock up and leave town on occasion.
“For me it is so convenient,” he says. “It’s a real easy lifestyle.”
And the shuttle makes it all possible.
“It’s not a precise science,” he says. “But if you’re flexible at all – I love it. It’s an invaluable service.”