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Saturday, July 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Getting There: Higher bus fares start Saturday

STA buses display a thank you on their reader sign, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, after Proposition 1 was passed on Tueday evening. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
STA buses display a thank you on their reader sign, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, after Proposition 1 was passed on Tueday evening. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Bus riders are going to have to pay more for their lifts starting on Saturday.

The first of a pair of fare increases will go into effect July 1.

Passengers are being asked to foot at least a 20 percent share of the cost of running Spokane Transit Authority, resulting in the fare increases.

Cash fares for a two-hour pass will go from $1.50 to $1.75.

A second fare increase is set for July 1, 2018, when the cash price will go to $2.

Most regular bus riders purchase monthly passes, which are also going up in price.

The popular 31-day rolling pass will go from $45 to $50 on Saturday and then to $60 in July 2018.

All-day passes will go from $3.50 to $4 on Saturday but then stay at that rate in 2018 and beyond.

Student passes will go from $37 to $42 on Saturday and then to $52 on July 1, 2018.

Senior and paratransit fares are also increasing.

STA is introducing a new seven-day pass for $15, which is intended to serve visitors to the community. That fare will increase to $17 on July 1, 2018.

The last time Spokane transit fares were increased was in phases in 2010 and 2012.

While STA plans to collect 20 percent of the cost of running buses from passengers, other transit agencies in Washington charge a higher percentage, STA said.

The average passenger fare is 31 percent of the cost of running urban buses in Washington.

STA provides nearly 11 million rides a year on its fixed route system.

The fare increases follow the voter approval last November of a pair of sales tax increases to improve bus service across the Spokane and Spokane Valley urban areas over the next 10 years.

As part of that, the STA board decided that passengers needed to pay their fair share.

An additional sales tax of one-tenth of a penny went into effect in April. A second increase of one-tenth of a penny starts in April 2019.

Both tax increases will expire at the end of 2028 unless extended by voters.

Together, the sales taxes should raise $200 million or more during that time.

The two fare increases will take the passenger share of bus service to 22 percent in July 2018, which is just under the national average of 23 percent.

The first of the planned improvements under the STA Moving Forward plan started last month with later evening service on Saturdays; improved weekend service on Wellesley Avenue and to Airway Heights; and creation of a new No. 95 Mid-Valley route on University Road and Broadway and Indiana avenues.

The largest improvement will be a Central City Line running from Browne’s Addition through downtown to the University District and Spokane Community College. Sleek, low-threshold electric buses will run the route, making it an efficient people mover through the heart of the city.

Park-and-rides will be improved, including a new West Plains Transit Center along Interstate 90 at the West Plains interchange.

Major routes such as Division Street and Sprague Avenue will get upgrades. A new north-south route from North Monroe Street to South Regal Street is in the plan.

For more information on planned improvements, go to stamovingforward.com/.

For full list of fare increases, go to spokanetransit.com/fares-passes/new-fares.

Input sought on Central City Line

The public is being asked to help provide input in developing the new Central City Line.

An open house for station designs and locations will be from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday on the second floor of the STA Plaza at 701 W. Riverside Ave.

“This open house is a great opportunity for all to learn about the most recent progress on station location and design,” STA said in a news release.

“Staff will also be available to answer questions regarding the Small Starts grant application process and next steps.”

STA may be eligible for $54 million of federal money to build the $72 million Central City Line. State funding is also available.

Spokane taxpayers will support the ongoing operation of the 6-mile line.

Monroe closure through August

Spokane County’s project to improve Monroe Street north of Francis Avenue led to lane restrictions last week and traffic backups.

Monroe was closed starting last Monday. The closure is scheduled through August.

In July, Wall Street will be closed from Francis to Greta avenues.

The county is repaving Monroe, rebuilding the intersection where Monroe and Wall meet and providing other improvements, such as handicap curb ramps.

Stormwater will be diverted to catch basins and new bio-infiltration swales.

The traffic problems are compounded by paving work on Country Homes Boulevard from Cedar Road to Excell Drive.

Also, reconstruction of Market Street from Houston Avenue to Lincoln Road has resulted in lane restrictions. Delays are likely.

In the city

Lincoln Street from Sprague to First avenues will be closed starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Thursday. Avista crews are working on an underground electrical system.

It is part of work to complete last year’s upgrades of Monroe and Lincoln streets downtown. Final paving on Monroe and Lincoln from Main to Second avenues is expected starting on July 10.

Elsewhere in the city, 37th Avenue is closed from Regal to Ray streets.

Sprague and First avenues downtown are closed or have lane restrictions at Adams Street.

Upriver Drive has a detour east of Greene Street.

Spokane Falls Boulevard at Lincoln Street is also under a detour.

Barnes Road from Strong Road to Phoebe Street is closed for paving construction.

Lane restrictions are continuing on Division and Browne streets downtown as part of improvements to the city’s main gateway from I-90.

Interstate roadwork

Out on the interstate, a repaving project is underway from the Fishtrap exit to Sprague Lake.

Also, lane restrictions are in place where paving work is occurring on a number of rural highways in the region.

To the west, drivers have been encountering numerous delays on I-90 due to construction between Ellensburg and North Bend. For more information, go to wsdot.wa.gov/projects/i90/whatshappening. It’s a good idea to check the DOT website before leaving or on mobile while en route.

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