The Spokane Transit Authority is taking early steps to implement improvements called for under Proposition 1, which was approved by voters last month.
The STA board last week adopted a new strategic plan to give voters what they asked for starting in 2017.
The measure will be implemented gradually over 10 years and raise the sales tax by one-tenth of a penny in April and a second tenth of a penny in April 2019, with both taxes running through 2028.
New services to be introduced in 2017 will bring late-night Saturday service to all routes.
Airway Heights will see more buses on weekends, as will other parts of the West Plains.
Indiana and Broadway avenues east of Sullivan Road will get a new bus route.
Wellesley Avenue on the North Side will get improved service on weekends, including stops at NorthTown Mall.
The Liberty Lake express route will see more midday, night and weekend service.
North Nevada Street will see a new Sunday route.
STA is projecting the new services will increase ridership by at least 50,000 boardings annually.
In addition to the service improvements, STA will start working on major capital projects, including a West Plains transit center and Central City Line.
STA plans to submit a federal application for a $54 million “small starts” grant for the Central City Line running from Browne’s Addition through downtown and the University District to Spokane Community College.
The state is adding $15 million and the Spokane local share is $3 million to meet the matching requirement in the grant program.
Construction of the West Plains transit center gets underway in 2017, with completion in 2018.
In addition, a Four Lakes station will get safety improvements, and the corridor from Spokane to Cheney will undergo design for other improvements.
Upgrades to the Division Street route will start in 2017 with sidewalk construction where gaps currently exist, and more sheltered stops will be built.
STA will seek to purchase property for a new Moran Prairie park and ride as part of a new through route between the Moran Prairie park and ride and the existing Five Mile park and ride station.
Bus stops on the East Sprague Avenue route will get improvements as part of street renovation east of the Hamilton Street overpass to Stone Street.
Also in the plan is a new fleet garage northwest of the existing STA facilities on Boone Avenue, completion at midyear of the current renovation of the downtown STA Plaza and upgrades to fare boxes installed in 2006.
Per-trip fares for adults are to increase in July to $1.75 from $1.50. Fares will increase to $2 in July 2018.
The fare revenue, currently at 18 percent of the cost of service, will increase to the STA’s goal of having riders pay for 20 percent of the cost.
After a decline in ridership because of lower gas prices, the number of riders in November was up 3.6 percent over November 2015. Regular buses had 870,000 boardings last month, compared with 840,000 a year earlier.
Sales tax revenue is up 6.5 percent for the year, reflecting growth in the Spokane economy.
The STA board approved a $95 million budget for 2017 that includes a $3.8 million allocation for replacing old buses.
DOT holiday travel tips
The Washington state Department of Transportation is asking drivers to plan ahead for their holiday trips. The best travel times can be found on a chart on the DOT website at wsdot.wa.gov/congestion/christmasday/2016/driver-tips-christmas-2016-i-90-i-5-and-us-2.
“Plan ahead to ensure safe, smooth travel whether going across town or across the state,” the DOT said in a news release.
For winter travel, be sure to carry extra clothing or blankets, a flashlight, food, water, traction devices, a charged cellphone, emergency flares or markers, a snow brush, an ice scraper and a first-aid kit.
Consider what you might need if you go off the road or get into a crash and the engine is disabled.
Traffic restrictions near River Park Square
For safety reasons, one of the westbound lanes on Spokane Falls Boulevard will be closed to traffic to River Park Square on Friday and Saturday.
Elsewhere in the city, leaf pickup was suspended because of ice and snow.
Valley SnowInfo alerts
The city of Spokane Valley is inviting residents to sign up for SnowInfo alerts at spokanevalley.org/signup.
Caution urged over Lookout
Interstate 90 at Lookout Pass was blocked Thursday after a semitruck jackknifed and got tangled with a second truck. Officials are warning drivers to use caution and slow down in wintry conditions.
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