Bus service in Spokane County will grow next week as the Spokane Transit Authority implements service changes suggested in its long-term plan.
STA will add four new routes as well as change many other routes. Among routes that will change, No. 95 will now end at the Amazon facility in Spokane Valley. The schedule of most routes will shift as a result of the changes, and some routes will have expanded evening and weekend service.
Some of the changes were made to accommodate the agency’s new Central City Line, which is scheduled to open next year, STA Chief Operating Officer Brandon Rapez-Betty said. The City Line will run from Browne’s Addition to Spokane Community College through downtown and the University District on electric buses with more pickup times than a normal bus route.
“We’re looking forward to growing the service to meet Spokane’s growing need and we invite people to give transit a try as we’re serving new areas to see if it meets their needs,” Rapez-Betty said.
The changes start on Sunday.
These enhancements will be the most extensive in a decade, with a lot of them paving toward promises the agency made in their 10-year plan known as STA Moving Forward. That plan was implemented when voters in 2016 approved higher sales taxes to pay for improvements. The vote increased sales taxes by a tenth of a penny in 2017 and another tenth of a penny in 2019. Funding from pandemic relief also helped pay for the plan, Rapez-Betty said.
A large portion of the new taxes are devoted to the Central City Line, but other service improvements have already been implemented.
This new phase of the plan includes changes aimed at improving the routing and frequency of buses in the Hillyard, West Central and Northwest Spokane, STA officials say.
New routes 35 and 36 were drawn to improve the east-to-west connections in north Spokane as promised in the plan, Rapez-Betty said. And unlike most of STA’s bus routes, 35 and 36 will not stop at the STA Plaza.
Route 35 will have a continuous route along Francis Avenue between G street and Market. Route 36 will provide service between Hillyard and Spokane Falls Community College via the West Central Neighborhood.
Other new routes include route 724, to provide service from Spokane to Liberty Lake in the morning and from Liberty Lake to Spokane in the evening, as well as route 771, a weekday service between Spokane and the Mirabeau Park and Ride in Spokane Valley.
Changes also include a new numbering system for loading zones, which will be called plaza bays, at the STA Plaza in downtown Spokane as well as a new schedule color system.
STA has posted a map showcasing the new numbered bays along with former zones, route relocations and new routes.
Under the new schedule color system for routes, red will be used for routes with frequent service, blue for basic, pink for express and green for downtown shuttles.
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