Cheney Free Press -

By PAUL DELANEY
Staff Reporter 

Bus service changes coming

Medical Lake could see more service to ESH campus

 

November 16, 2017

John McCallum

Bus service changes are coming for residents in Airway Heights, Cheney, Medical Lake and Eastern Washington University students (above), part of Spokane Transit Authority's "Moving Forward Plan."

The most visible sign of what is taking place to improve transit operations in the Spokane area, and specifically on the West Plains, is the earth being moved along Interstate 90 at Exit 272.

That's where the new $10 million West Plains Transit Center is being constructed and set to open in 2018.

It's behind the scenes, however, where most of the changes are taking place, but not without plenty of input Karl Otterstrom, director of planning and development for the Spokane Transit Authority told the Medical Lake City Council on Nov. 7.

Following passage a year ago of STA's "Moving Forward" ballot initiative the public transit agency convinced voters to increase the share of sales tax by 2/10s of 1 percent, about $20 million a year for both infrastructure and route enhancements.

Currently STA is making the rounds of local governments to explain how changes will take place, and what are some of the effects users might expect. It's part of a lengthy study that is taking place across the system

"We start with a preliminary proposal and these are our ideas," Otterstrom said. "Often we present more than one option."

By visiting Spokanetransit.com/info a survey is available to take citizen input. The site will be available until the middle of January, Otterstrom said.

Nearly 1,600 comments have been received so far. "It's one of the highest responses we've had on any of the surveys we've done," Otterstrom said.

Combined with additional feedback from STA staff, plus jurisdictions served by transit, the data will be presented in February followed by a public hearing in March.

With the completion of the transit center a variety of route changes and adjustments are foreseen.

"It also provides something that doesn't exist on the West Plains, which is connectivity," Otterstrom said of the facility that broke ground in July and will have parking for 200 cars. Once complete, the center will allow more streamlined service to Cheney, Medical Lake, Airway Heights, as well as Spokane International Airport - all without having to first go to downtown Spokane.

The biggest changes for Medical Lake are increased frequency that will help connect Eastern State Hospital.

"We're planning on hitting all the same stops we do today," Otterstrom said. "The benefit is there would be more trips all day long to the Eastern State campus, as well as the city of Medical Lake."

Another option being studied for Route 62 is to run downtown, but only on weekdays, with possible expansion to weekends.

And as plans sit right now it means a variety of changes are best explained by going online or calling (509) 328-RIDE (7433) and speaking to STA officials. They include a variety of consolidations of routes.

Following the study, changes will become effective Sept. 16, 2018.

Any changes for Airway Heights remain in flux because of anticipated sales tax revenues first priority will be for infrastructure, which will then affect how service is delivered.

"Capital projects are aligned to provide more service," Otterstrom said. "Literally there are fewer dollars for service."

There is another project in the works in the future for the transit center, that an eventual direct connection to I-90. The re-design will begin in 2019 with construction currently projected to commence in 2020.

More Information

To view the Spokane Transit Authority’s “Moving Forward Plan” and to provide written input, go to spokanetransit.com. You can also provide input by callling (509) 328-RIDE (7433)

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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