Cheney commuters who take a Spokane Transit Authority coach could be sitting a little higher come 2025.
The STA board of directors will vote Thursday on a request to buy seven double-decker buses that would run the 6 and 66 routes between downtown Spokane and Cheney beginning in 2025. The buses are expected to cost a little more than $9 million, with about a third of that coming from local dollars and the rest from state and federal grants.
The double-decker buses will replace the accordion-looking extended coaches, known as “articulated buses,” that have reached the end of their useful life, according to STA. They will be the first double-decker buses to be used by STA and are part of planned improvements for service to Cheney, the destination of many students and teachers at Eastern Washington University during the school year.
Those who’ve lived in Spokane long enough may be wary of the idea of taller vehicles traveling through downtown, lest a downtown train viaduct claim another unaware victim. STA already has altered the routes the double-decker coaches will take to avoid low-hanging concrete, said Carly Cortright, chief communications and customer service officer for the transit authority. The routes both use Jefferson Street, where the viaduct clearance is 14 feet, 4 inches, enough for the double-decker bus to pass with about a foot to spare.
STA is planning to purchase the buses from Alexander Dennis, Inc., a British bus manufacturer based in Scotland. The firm’s buses also have been purchased by Community Transit in Snohomish County and Sound Transit operating in the Seattle metropolitan area.
“If delivered and accepted by the expected date of June 2025, there would be a maintenance period where the vehicles are licensed, possibly outfitted with additional equipment, tested, and then made available for coach operator training – and finally made available for service later in 2025,” Cortright wrote in an email.
Double-decker buses are most famous in Britain, where they were first introduced in the 1840s and drawn by horses. Articulated buses are more popular in the United States; however, some major cities have used double-decker buses, and the first in America rumbled through the streets of New York City in 1912, according to the History Channel.
The double-decker buses have the benefit of reducing needed curb space while increasing capacity by about 20 passengers. STA also anticipates operating costs will be lower than the 60-foot articulated buses, and that they may be able to reduce some overload trips during the busy school season.
STA does not intend to introduce the double-decker buses on any other routes in the city, Cortright said by email.
The STA board of directors will meet at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the STA boardroom to consider the purchase request.
Work to watch for
Those taking Interstate 90 between Post Falls and the Washington-Idaho border should be aware that the highway will have lane closures for ongoing bridge work.
Drivers will see intermittent lane closures between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. through Thursday on all bridges on Interstate 90 along that stretch.
On Monday and Tuesday, state Highway 41 beneath Interstate 90 will be closed for bridge work overnight from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Exiting traffic will not be able to pass beneath the interstate during this time.
Monroe Street has reopened between the Monroe Street Bridge and Boone Avenue following a pavement replacement project. One northbound lane will be closed this week for final construction work.
Riverside Avenue also has reopened downtown. Work on the remade street has been suspended until spring.
Wall Street downtown between Sprague and First avenues will be closed until Nov. 29.
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