October 31, 2009 in Washington Voices

New routes rile neighbor

Browne’s Addition resident says eight buses pass per hour at peak times
By The Spokesman-Review
 

When Spokane Transit Authority changed two westbound routes on Sept. 20, some Browne’s Addition residents were in for a surprise.

After the old Browne’s Addition bus number 40 was eliminated, two new routes – 60 and 61 – were taken through the neighborhood in an effort to provide better and more frequent service to one of the more densely populated neighborhoods close to downtown.

That means Mike Maurer’s house is rattled by as many as eight buses every hour during peak times.

“I have no problem with buses at all, and I was fine with the two buses an hour we used to get,” Maurer said. “The problem is the whole concept of eight buses an hour.”

Maurer lives on Coeur d’Alene Street, which, he points out, is a residential street in a historic neighborhood.

“It’s on the City Drive; it’s designed with benches for people to sit and enjoy it,” Maurer said. “I would really like to see a reduction in the volume of buses going past our home. Even in the back of the house we can hear them and feel them.”

Molly Myers, communications manager for STA, said STA has worked diligently to inform home- and business owners about the changes.

“We have worked with the neighborhood councils, and we sent out 10,000 direct mail pieces alerting people to what was going on,” Myers said.

She explained that route 40 has been replaced by routes 60 and 61.

“Route 60 serves Browne’s Addition, the Sunset Hill and the Spokane Airport,” Myers said. “Route 61 is Airway Heights – it was revised to serve Browne’s Addition and Hayford Road.”

Myers said feedback from the neighborhoods was “a resounding ‘This sounds like a great idea.’ ”

Among other things, STA sought input from residents on its Web site, via Survey Monkey and on a message phone line.

“We had 90 people calling the phone line so we could send them the material,” said Myers.

Maurer said he doesn’t remember receiving any note in the mail or any other information about the new bus routes.

He does remember seeing a postcard about a survey last year but disregarded it because he usually doesn’t ride the bus and didn’t think the changes would be this major.

“It’s beyond comprehension to me that you would send so many busses down such a narrow street,” Maurer said. “The bus to the airport should go on commercial streets – no one here gets on it to go to the airport.”

There was a community meeting on Oct. 7 and STA plans to host another one soon in Browne’s Addition.

Maurer said he’s considering getting a group of neighbors together to protest formally.

“It’s just too much. We get one bus, then another bus three to five minutes later, then one more 10 minutes later, then two more,” Maurer said. “I don’t think there’s any other residential street with that much bus traffic.”

Myers said since the new routes have only been in effect for a bit more than a month, it’s too early to evaluate ridership, but STA welcomes input from neighbors like Maurer.

“From a planner’s perspective, this is ideal bus service in a densely populated area,” Myers said. “We will continue to work with the neighborhood in the future – we don’t want a solution that people don’t want.”


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