Spokane Transit Authority

Spokane Transit Authority

Infobox Bus transit
name =

logo_size = 250

image_size =
image_caption =
company_slogan = How a great city moves.
parent =
founded = 1980 as the "Spokane Public Transportation Benefit Area Authority"
headquarters = W. 1230 Boone Ave. Spokane, WA 99201
locale =
service_area = 371 mi²
service_type =
alliance =
routes = 39
destinations = Airway Heights, Cheney, Medical Lake, Millwood, Liberty Lake, Spokane, Spokane Valley, unincorporated areas of Spokane County
stops =
hubs =
stations =
lounge =
fleet = Buses: 135, Paratransit Vans: 48, Vanpool Vans: 68
ridership =
fuel_type =
operator =
ceo = E. Susan Meyer
website = http://www.spokanetransit.com/

Spokane Transit Authority, more commonly Spokane Transit or STA, provides mass transit services in the Spokane County Public Transportation Benefit Area. It is one of seven local public transportation systems for urbanized areas (UZA) in the State of Washington along with:

*C-TRAN (Vancouver portion of the Portland, Oregon UZA)
*Community Transit (Suburban Snohomish County portion of the Seattle-Everett UZA)
*Everett Transit (Everett portion of the Seattle-Everett UZA)
*King County Metro Transit (Seattle and King County suburban portions of the Seattle-Everett UZA)
*Pierce Transit (Tacoma UZA)
*Sound Transit (Seattle-Everett UZA and Tacoma UZA)

Single ride regular fares cost $1.00, and VIP fares cost $0.50. Day passes for adult and VIP's are $2.50 and is good for unlimited rides for the remainder of the calendar day the pass was issued. Adult monthly passes are $33.00, and VIP monthly passes are $16.50. Paper transfers were discontinued in December 2006. In its place is a Two-Hour Pass that works as a transfer on any route for two-hours from the time it is issued on the bus.

Service Area

The Spokane County PTBA extends approximately 371 square miles, including the Cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Airway Heights, Medical Lake, and the Town of Millwood, and unincorporated areas in and around the cities.

While all of the incorporated communities are served by fixed route services, rural areas receive much less service, if any at all (Otis Orchards and Marshall, for example).


Spokane Transit provides multiple services:

*Fixed Route. Buses run seven days a week over most of the service area, including local routes and commuter routes to outlying communities such as Cheney, Medical Lake, and Liberty Lake.
*Paratransit. Pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Spokane Transit provides accessible transportation to persons with disabilities within 3/4 mile of every fixed route. Additionally, all fixed route vehicles purchased after 1986 are accessible.
*Vanpool. A service which matches people traveling to or from similar locations and provides a publicly owned van at a fixed price per mile.
*Pass Programs. Spokane Transit provides multiple fare instruments, including employee, youth, and college passes. Eastern Washington University, for example, purchases a very low-cost pass for all students, staff and faculty.
*Shuttles. Spokane Transit operates two shuttles, one between the downtown and the Spokane Arena, and the other from downtown to the hospital district. Shuttle fares are half price.
*Bicycles. Bike racks are available on all routes, except for streetcars operating on the downtown to Spokane Arena route.
*Park and Rides. Spokane Transit operates several strategically-located park and ride facilities throughout its service area, and has cooperative agreements with other property owners to allow parking access to transit services.

Fixed Routes:

Fixed Route Fleet

Spokane Transit currently has roughly 160 busses in its fleet. Included in the fleet are:
* 1990 30' Flxible (4)
* 1990 40' Flxible (17)
* 1991 40' Flxible (16) 91's and 92's
* 1992 40' Flxible
* 1993 40' TMC (12)
* 1994 40' TMC (12)
* 1997 40' New Flyer (25)
* 2003 29' Gillig (10)
* 2003 35' Gillig (13)
* 2005 35' Gillig (10)
* 2006 40' Gillig (19)
* 2006 60' New Flyer articulated (6)
* 2007 35' Gillig (3) 2701, 2702, 2703
* 2007 40' Gillig (14) 2704-2717
* 2007 40' Gillig Hybrid (3)


Spokane Transit is governed by a 9-member board of directors appointed by the municipal jurisdictions of which is it composed. State law requires that all members be elected officials.

Originally, the board consisted of 2 members from the City of Spokane, 2 members from the Spokane County Commission, 1 member from each of the Cities of Airway Heights, Cheney, Medical Lake, and the Town of Millwood, and one additional member alternately held by an official from the City of Spokane and Spokane County.

The City of Liberty Lake was incorporated on August 2001, and the City of Spokane Valley was incorporated on March 2003, necessitating a change in board membership. Now the board consists of:

* City of Spokane, 3 members
* Spokane County, 2 members
* City of Spokane Valley, 2 members
* The "small cities", 2 members (combined)

The "small cities" of Airway Heights, Cheney, Liberty Lake, Medical Lake, and Millwood rotate membership in three-year terms:

*2004: Liberty Lake and Medical Lake
*2005: Medical Lake and Millwood
*2006: Millwood and Cheney
*2007: Millwood and Cheney
*2008: Cheney and Airway Heights
*2009: Airway Heights and Liberty Lake
*2010: Airway Heights and Liberty Lake
*2011: Liberty Lake and Medical Lake
*2012: Medical Lake and Millwood (and so on...)

The small cities show remarkable cooperation, as a city councilmember from Liberty Lake served in 2006 at the request of the Millwood Town Council.


Transit service history in the Spokane area began in 1883 with several independent, private companies. In 1922, the Spokane United Railway Company was formed, consolidating holdings from several companies including Washington Water Power (later, Avista Corporation), creating a unified electric trolley and streetcar system.

The rail system was gradually phased out through the 1930s to make way for motorized coaches. Ridership reached a peak in the Spokane area in 1946 with 26 million passengers.

The system was purchased by Spokane City Lines Company (part of National City Lines) in 1945, and later turned over to the City of Spokane in 1968.

Upon acquisition by the city, funding for the system was derived from a household tax. After the formation of the Public Transportation Benefit Area in 1980, and the establishment of a 0.3% sales tax within the area on April 1981, services were provided by Spokane Transit.

At the urging of the downtown business community, Spokane Transit built a bus depot in 1994 to replace the "Howard and Riverside" model which required that buses park along many downtown streets for passengers to make transfers. Not only was this uncomfortable for passengers, who were forced to wait for buses in the weather, but it also made the streetside businesses less accessible to customers. The bus depot, known as "The Plaza" was constructed as an indoor urban park at a cost of approximately $20 million. With its high, daylight ceiling, imported Italian tile, and cougar statues leaping over a waterfall between the up- and down- escalators, it generated great controversy.

In addition to the local sales tax, a major revenue source was Washington State's motor vehicle excise tax which provided matching funds. After statewide initiative I-695 was passed in 1999, the legislature eliminated the matching funds even though the initiative was later found unconstitutional. "See also List of Washington initiatives."

The period after the elimination of the motor vehicle excise tax was a time of unprecedented change for Spokane Transit. As its undesignated cash reserves balance fell, Spokane Transit attempted to increase its tax authority from 0.3% to 0.6% in September 2002, but it was rejected by voters 48% to 52%.

Spokane Transit created task force to study changes that could be made to regain the support of the community, while simultaneously preparing for a potential 40% service decrease. After increased public participation, and 69% voter approval, Spokane Transit increased the sales tax from 0.3% to 0.6% in October 2004. Authority to charge the higher tax rate expires on June 30, 2009.

Efficiency and Effectiveness

Among Washington State urbanized systems, Spokane Transit tends to achieve high efficiency and effectiveness levels despite the rather suburban nature of its service area.

Farebox Recovery19.55%18.39%
Cost per Passenger$3.57$4.04
Cost per Mile$5.60$5.60
Cost per Revenue Hour$76.29$87.99
Cost per Total Hour$71.62$82.57
Percent Vehicle in Use93.88%90.02%
Revenue Hours per Employee1,101982
Average Miles per Hour13.6414.99
Passengers per Hour21.421.8
Passengers per Mile1.571.57

These 2003 performance measure data indicate that, compared to the state median, a greater percentage of the cost of service is borne by the rider, in part because the cost of service is lower. Spokane Transit vehicles are less often "out of service," and provides more service per employee.

On the other hand, Spokane Transit vehicles tend to stop more often (hence, the lower number of miles per hour), and STA picks up 2% fewer riders per hour than average.

In 2006 STA's ridership increased by 9.4% over 2005. The system provided 8.4 million rides on fixed routes and more than 9 million total, including paratransit and vanpool.

Planning Activities

Spokane Transit participates in regional transportation and land use planning activities. It is a member jurisdiction of the Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC), and sends a small city member of its board to serve on SRTC's board.

SRTC and STA jointly created the Light Rail Steering Committee (LRSC) which is responsible for studying the creation of a regional light rail system. The first phase is intended to implement the Major Investment Study of the South Valley Corridor which runs from downtown Spokane, through the City of Spokane Valley and into the City of Liberty Lake. The LRSC has conducted land use and economic development studies to understand the cost/benefit ratio of light rail construction.

As a consequence of this study, STA is also participating in a feasibility study for reestablishing an electric streetcar system in Spokane, and Bus Rapid Transit in other areas of the community. STA is also contemplating the creation of a downtown fareless area.


Washington State Summary of Public Transportation - 2003 by Washington State Department of Transportation Public Transportation and Rail Division (September 2004)

External links

* [http://www.spokanetransit.com Spokane Transit site]
* [http://www.spokanelightrail.com Spokane Light Rail Project site]
* [http://www.srtc.org Spokane Regional Transportation Council]

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