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Trolleys heading for the barn

The green trolley replica buses that have been shuttling people across downtown for 15 years are going to the barn.

Spokane Transit Authority is taking them out of service at the start of next year.

Bought in 1994 to dress up downtown Spokane, the trolleys have been more workhorses than tourist attractions, shuttling commuters from the STA Plaza on West Riverside Avenue to a park-and-ride lot at the Spokane Arena.

STA is buying three new 29-foot electric-diesel hybrids with low-floor chassis to replace them. The hybrids will operate on about a third less fuel, said Susan Meyer, chief executive officer for STA.

“They are quieter. They are the perfect downtown commuter vehicle,” she said.

They also fit in with a broader effort to make Spokane a green city.

The three trolley buses had a reputation for being uncomfortable, and were difficult to maneuver in tight spaces. They were mounted onto truck chassis, making the ride stiff and jolting.

“They are just not real comfortable,” said one rider getting off a trolley last week. “They are bumpy.”

The hybrids from Gillig Corp. will get a new downtown promotional advertising wrap to make them distinctive and to distinguish them from other STA vehicles.

While the old trolleys cost $127,000 apiece, the new hybrids are considerably more expensive, selling at more than $500,000 each.

The fare for the shuttle is 50 cents, half the cost of a regular fare.


Spokane city leaf collection starts Tuesday and will continue into December depending on the weather. As in past years, the pickups will begin in Northwest Spokane and move south and east from there.

Crews are collecting leaves that fall naturally in the streets. Residents are not supposed to rake or blow leaves from their lawns into the streets, although the practice is common.

Leaves are accepted at the city-county incinerator and recycling facility as well as solid-waste transfer stations. The first 100 pounds is free.

The Spokane Regional Solid Waste System recommends composting leaves rather than throwing them out.


Spokane Transit Authority officials are planning two workshop sessions with members of the public on a plan to maintain bus service levels in the face of declining tax revenue in recent years.

The sessions on the second floor of the STA Plaza, 701 W. Riverside Ave., will be on Wednesday from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. and Thursday from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.

The STA board is expected to approve a 2010 budget later this fall.


In Spokane Valley, Park Road just south of Trent Avenue will be closed Wednesday and Thursday for railroad crossing work. The crossing should reopen by 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.


The Washington Department of Transportation’s travel alert system on the Web is undergoing upgrades today at noon. The system will not be operating for about an hour. The work will also shut down the 511 statewide travel phone information system.


Work should be finished now on a repaving on Interstate 90 between Easton and Cle Elum on the east side of the Cascades. The project has created delays of several hours along the freeway, especially during busy weekend periods. The job in the westbound lanes involved new concrete pavement for the right-hand lane and shoulder on 4.5 miles of the freeway.