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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Younger people more likely to ride transit, report finds

People under 30 are four times more likely to ride transit than people over 60, according to a national report from the TransitCenter organization.

Use of public transit varies greatly across the country and depends in large part on the quality of the transit system, the report said.

The West Coast has a higher rate of transit use than other regions. Transit in the seven West Coast states included in the poll is used at least once a week by 31 percent of people under 30, while folks over 60 reported a 3 percent use of transit.

New figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that just 4.3 percent of the working population in Spokane used transit in 2013 for commuting. That was a decline from the number who rode transit in 2011.

Still, the popularity of transit among younger Americans has significant implications for communities, the report said.

Spokane County Commissioner Al French, a member of the Spokane Transit Authority board, said having a strong transit system will attract young people to Spokane and reduce the exodus of young adults following school years.

STA is in the midst of planning for a major expansion of transit with a central city line from Browne’s Addition to Spokane Community College, running through downtown and Gonzaga University. It could use trolley-like electric buses.

It is one part of a wide-ranging proposal to create high-performance transit routes on major travel corridors. A sales tax increase would have to win voter approval to finance the improvements, but federal grant money could pay a large share of the costs for a central city line.

The “Who’s on Board 2014” report from TransitCenter, a New York-based philanthropic organization, was released last week.

Researchers concluded, “As millennials begin to take center stage in American life and the Baby Boom generation confronts retirement, both the transit industry and the real estate industry will need to adjust. Who’s On Board offers significant insights for professionals in both fields.”

Among people with children, the report showed that the most likely transit riders are under age 30 with incomes of $75,000 or more. Forty-five percent of those people reported using transit.

Only 16 percent of parents making more than $75,000 from 30 to 60 years old reported using transit.

Parents under 30 making less than $35,000 a year reported a transit use of 23 percent.

The highest level of transit use is found in older, large cities where transit is well-established and people make use of it, the report said.

Transit use is consistent with another trend researchers found that many people, even those living in suburbs, would like to see a greater mix of offices, apartments and shops in a land-use pattern known as mixed-use development.

According to the report, 58 percent of survey respondents said their ideal neighborhood contained “a mix of houses, shops and businesses,” but only 39 percent currently live in that type of neighborhood.

STA holding phone town hall

In a related development, STA is hosting a telephone town hall meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. to take questions and comments about developing the central city line and high-performance transit in a project the agency is calling STA Moving Forward.

“Nearly 55,000 residents from communities with STA service will be invited to participate via an automated phone dialing system,” STA said.

Citizens not receiving invitational calls are also encouraged to join the conversation by calling (877) 353-4701 during the live event. The call is free.

Centennial Trail section closed

The Centennial Trail along the Spokane Convention Center will be closed today from Division to Washington streets for installation of a new trail surface. The work should be finished by Oct. 24. The trail work is part of the current voter-approved expansion of the Convention Center.

Airway Heights project gets loan

The Washington state Community and Economic Revitalization Board has awarded Airway Heights a $363,000 loan and $175,000 grant to build a half-mile rail siding and a 60,000-square-foot building to support expansion of Seaport Steel and Brown Strauss Steel. The city is matching the funds with $187,000 of city money.

The companies are investing $5 million in the project, expected to create 20 permanent jobs and retain four other permanent jobs, according to the revitalization board.

Highway projects around the county

A new traffic light at U.S. Highway 2 and Flint Road is expected to be activated Tuesday morning. In addition, the detour for Flint Road will be removed.

On Interstate 90, eastbound traffic at the Hamilton Street and Liberty Park interchange will encounter two lanes of through traffic today through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

Sprague among work in Valley

In Spokane Valley, repaving work on Sprague Avenue from University to Vista roads is causing the closure of two westbound lanes.

Also, eastbound Appleway Boulevard from Thierman to Park roads is reduced to two lanes.

The southbound bridge over the Spokane River at Sullivan Road will have one lane closed this morning for unloading of construction equipment. A contractor is getting ready to demolish the 1951 bridge and build a new bridge in its place, finishing in 2016.

Traffic will be routed onto the newer northbound bridge during demolition and construction.

The project is being launched in a public ceremony on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at Sullivan Park, 1901 N. Sullivan Road. To attend, contact Cally King at (509) 720-5113 or by email at