In renderings released this past week, the Spokane Transit Authority unveiled how the city’s new bus rapid transit system will look.
Bottom line: It won’t look like the rest of the STA system.
Unlike STA’s existing green-and-white buses, the City Line’s 60-foot, battery electric, articulated buses will feature a distinct pattern and color scheme, with black transitioning to lilac and a smattering of lines breaking up the solid colors.
Unlike current bus-stop markers, which are mostly small, flat signs affixed to metal poles, the City Line will beckon riders with 13-foot-tall, 1-foot-thick markers designed to be seen from a few blocks away.
Unlike most stops on the existing bus system, the City Line’s high-ridership stops will feature digital monitors that not only identify the station and route but also have scrolling news, weather and even the STA’s social media feed.
The “whole idea around this brand,” said Brandon Rapez-Betty, director of communications and customer service for STA, is to create “a sleek, clean modern feel to try to appeal to a broader demographic.”
But the distinctive look is also an outcome of a Federal Transit Administration regulation that requires rapid transit projects have “to be distinctly branded from the rest of the bus system,” Rapez-Betty said.
STA is moving forward not only on the aesthetics of the new system but also the infrastructure.
The STA board of directors recently awarded concrete contractor Cameron-Reilly a $12.3 million contract to begin work on road improvements, station platform construction, and power and data connections.
Crews are expected to begin work in May, Rapez-Betty said, and construction will continue into 2021.
The black-and-lilac buses should start running on a 6-mile route from Browne’s Addition to Spokane Community College in 2022.
As STA prepares for that new addition through the heart of the city, traversing downtown and the University District, the transit agency is also working to harness new opportunities afforded by the City Line to expand service on its existing bus system.