The largest reconfiguration of Spokane Transit Authority routes in more than a decade starts Sunday, with virtually every route seeing changes.
Riders are grabbing up schedules to become familiar with new routes and times. “We are really encouraging people to get informed,” said Molly Myers, communications manager for STA.
The revamping is part of a series of budget measures taken in recent years.
Transit officials said they analyzed the entire system, spoke at length with bus riders, and put together a plan that improves service on major routes while maintaining skeletal service to less-traveled locations.
Six routes are being discontinued. They are the No. 30 Francis, No. 31 Garland, No. 41 Latah, No. 46 Altamont, No. 67 Medical Lake/Geiger and No. 95 Millwood.
In many cases, nearby routes are being changed to fill holes created by the eliminations.
In an earlier step, some stops were dropped on some routes to speed up buses.
The changes are being driven by a 7 percent budget reduction for fixed-route service, the result of several years of lower sales tax collections.
The goal in the current round of cuts was to eliminate 18 driver positions, which was accomplished through early retirement incentives and voluntary departures.
Fares increased in two steps starting in 2009. A one-way full-fare ticket is now $1.50, up from $1.
Each route has a new schedule, available at the Plaza downtown, the Bus Shop at 1229 W. Boone Ave., and online at spokanetransit.com.
It is the most extensive revamping since 1998.
When the conversion starts on Sunday, STA is posting extra staff members wearing orange hats at the Plaza and the Valley Transit Center to help riders.
System route maps sport color coding to distinguish high-frequency routes – with service intervals as rapid as every 15 minutes – from basic routes with 30-minute or longer bus intervals.
The changes will put STA in a position to build a high-performance network on major routes in future years to serve larger numbers of commuters.
Among major changes, the No. 1 Plaza/Arena Shuttle is combining runs with the No. 2 South Side Medical Shuttle, which allows for 15-minute frequency on the No. 1 segment.
The No. 26 bus is being reconfigured to serve Lidgerwood Avenue as well as the Riverpoint campus along Spokane Falls Boulevard.
Also, the No. 28 Nevada bus will begin running along Spokane Falls Boulevard, giving the campus area 15-minute bus frequency.
The No. 45 Regal bus will gain 15-minute frequency during peak hours.
Service on the lower South Hill was redesigned west of Monroe Street.
Medical Lake and Cheney will see major changes, but STA is preserving service and increasing frequency during peak hours for Eastern Washington University.
The No. 90 Sprague bus will now turn around at the Valley Transit Center at University Road.
Service throughout Spokane Valley and to Liberty Lake is being redesigned extensively. In the changes, the No. 174 Liberty Lake Express will now stop at the Mirabeau park and ride lot, adding at least four minutes to the trip.
The next stage of work to widen Interstate 90 east of Snoqualmie Pass will have a new contractor.
Guy F. Atkinson, LLC, of Renton, has been chosen for a $236 million contract for six travel lanes, accompanying bridges and culverts, rock slope work and a new snow shed. The work stretches from milepost 58 at the existing snow shed to milepost 60 at Keechelus Dam.
Max J. Kuney Co., of Spokane, began work in 2010 on the section from milepost 55 to 58.
Joe Tortorelli, of Spokane, has been appointed to the Washington State Transportation Commission by Gov. Chris Gregoire. He replaces Latisha Hill, also of Spokane.
Tortorelli has worked for Economic Development Northwest, a consulting business, and is secretary/executive director of the Spokane Area Good Roads Association.
Projects near completion
Reconstruction of Second Avenue from Division to Howard streets should be substantially finished by this morning, city officials said.
A reconstruction project on Wellesley Avenue from Ash to Milton streets should be finished by Friday.
Motorists on North Division Street have been encountering a few delays as workers finish up repaving and concrete work there.
Westbound Riverside Avenue will be closed near Jefferson Street for two weeks starting today so crews can install a new roof on Riverfalls Tower apartments.