Posted by Charles Rehberg on Mar 12, 2018
North Notes
Spokane North Rotary Club Bulletin
March 12, 2018
          Fund event canceled: President-elect Lenore Romney said the spring fund-raising campaign to help needy kids, especially at Holmes Elementary School, will be delayed until late September or early October.    The annual fund-raiser, which has provided about $20,000 for school needs, had been scheduled June 4, but Romney said “we just couldn’t cobble together” enough things to ensure a successful event this year.
          Heroes needed: Two club members are needed to help present Holmes Elementary Golden Heroes at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23.
          Man up, please: The Greater Spokane Valley Club is looking for a Spokane-North Club’s “Men of Rotary Men’s Show” candidate for its fund-raiser event Friday, April 13, at the Mirabeau Park Hotel.  Tickets are $60 and must be paid in advance.  Mark Peterson of KXLY will be the emcee.  See other details in the Valley’s site.  That club meets Wednesdays at noon at Darcy’s 10502 E. Sprague.
 STA ‘fares’ well as it ‘moves forward’
          The blizzard of numbers about bus riding in Spokane is about as long as riding from downtown to the Wandermere park-and-ride lot.
          Among the totals: nearly 11  million riders rode last year, including 10.2 million regular riders, plus 577,000 van poolers and 22,500 paratransit riders.
          Putting things in context for the March 12 club meeting was Brandon Rapez-Betty, senior communications specialist for the Spokane Transit Authority.  He subbed for E. Susan Meyer, STA’s CEO, who was scheduled to talk, but had to attend to an ill family member.
          Brandon said the Spokane’s Public Transportation Benefits Area covers 248 square miles, or about 85 percent of Spokane County.  A 9-member board of elected officials forms the board, adding two non-voting members, including one union represent.
          STA has 546 employees and 84 percent of the workforce is union.  Contract drivers supplement the driver force, mostly on off-peak times, like afternoons and evenings.
Brandon said STA often gets comments like “no one was riding the bus,” but he explained the peak load “fluctuations,” with many crowded routes going to work and home, with low ridership at other times.
          The fleet includes 106 diesel buses, 13 articulated-diesel buses, plus dozens of vans and paratransit vehicles.
          Ten park-and-ride lots are operated around the area, with two more planned by 2019 – a Moran Prairie site along 57th, including a downtown express route, and the West Plains Transit Center near the I-90 exit 272.  He said the West Plains routes will connect those areas (Cheney, Medical Lake, Airway Heights) directly.  Now the routes go from each town to downtown, then double back to reach another West Plains town.
          Number-crunchers say STA is the second-lowest in fee costs statewide and Brandon said ridership is priced at 20 percent of the “customers,” compared with 23 percent nationally.
          In a two-year fare increase planned ending this year, on July 1 regular single fares go to $2 (up from $1.75 currently) and 31-day passes climb to $60 (up from $50).  Lower rates apply to children, students, those over age 64 and disabled riders.
          Among the “moving forward” plans for STA is the centerpiece – the Central City Line.
          The Central Line would connect Browne’s Addition to Spokane Community College, acting like a rubber-tired version of streetcars or light rail. The rubber tires, Brandon said, would price out at just one-quarter of a light-rail system.
          Plans for the Central Line have been in the works for 10 years, but the Trump Administration plans for infrastructure kept that option out of the current funding. 
          However, Brandon said Congressional support from both sides of the aisle may revive the issue.  He said the line would be funded by federal and state agencies, with no local funding.
          Some 33 stations are planned.  He added that if the line is approved, it would be built in “pockets” of Riverside Ave. and other routes, avoiding a total construction blockage.
          “This will feel different from riding a bus,” Brandon said.
          One way to track how well STA is “moving forward,” is using cell phones or e-mail to see when your next bus will arrive, and when the ride is scheduled.
          Old transfers and tokens and paper bus passes have been replaced with Smart-card technology.  And if you think drive-time travel has slowed in many Spokane areas, just think how many more cars would clog area arterials if 11 million riders were not using the bus.
The bulletin producers:
          Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink
          Photos: Lenore Romney
          Program coordinator: Brad Stark