Double-decker buses will soon boomerang between Spokane and Cheney.
The Spokane Transit Authority announced Monday that it received $3 million in funding from the Federal Transit Administration to support the purchase of two-story buses for the Cheney Line, a high-performance transit line planned between Eastern Washington University in Cheney and the University District in Spokane.
The Cheney Line, delayed due to the coronavirus and now expected to launch, will increase the frequency of service and bus capacity on the popular line between Spokane and Cheney.
David Meany, an EWU spokesman, said the Cheney Line “will help tremendously with the students, faculty and staff who utilize the popular bus line between Cheney and Spokane.”
“During peak hours the buses are typically full or overcrowded with people standing. The double decker buses, with more capacity, will be a tremendous boost for all the riders,” Meany said.
The line includes major stops at the STA’s West Plains Station and Four Lakes Station, and improvements along the line will include new bus shelters and platforms, along other changes.
Double-decker buses are used in major cities throughout the world. Once in service, the double-decker buses are expected to be the first of their kind in the region, making Cheney the London of the western half of southern Spokane County.
The bus will primarily traverse Interstate 90 and State Route 904 and is expected to serve about 320,000 riders annually.
The double-decker isn’t just a novelty.
Though it increases passenger capacity by about 30%, the double-decker bus is about the same length as its single-deck bus brethren and requires no additional curbside space to pick up and drop off riders.
Due to their added weight, the double-decker buses actually handle better on hills and snowy conditions, according to Brandon Rapez-Betty, an STA spokesman.
STA also expects running double-deck buses to be more cost-efficient by squeezing in more passengers per ride and eking out slightly better fuel economy.
The cost of the seven double-decker fleet is $8.24 million. In addition to the new boost in federal funding, the buses will be funded by a $3.89 million state Department of Transportation grant and $1.4 million directly from the STA.
The $13 million Cheney line is one of seven corridors central to the STA’s “Moving Forward” plan, the funding for which was approved by voters in 2016 through an increase in local sales tax.
The project includes the Central City Line, which will connect with the Cheney line at its terminus in Spokane’s University District.
“Spokane Transit is taking an innovative approach to meeting the region’s long-term transportation needs,” E. Susan Meyer, STA’s CEO, said in a statement. “This service will be the first to utilize double-decker buses in the Spokane region. The consistent and strong support of our congressional delegation was instrumental in securing this grant.”
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