Rapid Transit Systems combine speed and efficiency with the cost effectiveness and flexibility of environmentally friendly buses.
Longer hours, weekend service, increased frequency and convenient access to transit in the region’s major corridors are critical elements of a competitive and growing economy. Successfully attracting a strong millennial workforce and new businesses requires an effective transportation system that provides various options to travel to work, school, entertainment, recreation and everyday services. The Central City Line in the Downtown corridor will be the first phase of fulfilling that need in the urban areas of Spokane County.
The Central City Line is a six-mile, corridor-based Bus Rapid Transit route connecting Browne’s Addition to Spokane Community College by way of Downtown Spokane and the University District. It will be a modern-style electric bus providing over 1 million rides per year. It will feature more frequent trips and convenient elements like pre-board ticketing, level boarding and improved stations with real-time signage, wayfinding and other amenities.
The concept of the Central City Line has been discussed, evaluated and planned for by community partners for over 15 years. It has been customized for the needs of Spokane, reflecting cost-effectiveness and flexibility. It will provide earlier and later service seven days a week – making it a viable transit option in the busiest commercial corridors, especially for commuters.
High performance transit systems create positive economic impacts for communities. As a first installment for the region, the Central City Line is projected to increase land and improvement values by $175 million over 20 years. Some examples of the project’s positive economic impact include increased foot traffic from higher density development, reduced travel times, and parking and traffic congestion mitigation. Additionally, the Central City Line will streamline transit in the Downtown corridor and allow for other system-wide improvements, like more transfer stations outside of the city core.
In addition to the growth in ridership and a positive economic impact, the CCL will include other benefits like significant streetscape and road improvements, distinctly branded and permanent stations, and innovative electric charging infrastructure. Combined, these elements provide a sense of permanence that indicate a long-term commitment to mobility and economic development along the corridor. Additionally, the CCL’s zero emissions propulsion system will provide an ongoing environmental benefit through cleaner air and quieter buses. An economic study completed in 2014 estimates, over a 20-year period the projected increase to surrounding land and improvements values will increase by $175 million.
Project Cost and Funding
The estimated project cost is $72 million (2019 dollars), including vehicles, design, construction management and other support services. STA has received $3.575 million in State and Federal funding to complete planning and engineering services for the project. In June of 2015, the Washington State Legislature and Governor approved $15 million for construction, which represents the total local share of the construction costs for the project.
In cooperation with the City of Spokane, a Steering Committee has been formed to provide policy level support to the STA Board and the City of Spokane at key milestones in the implementation of the Central City Line and the development of supportive land use and economic development policy. The Steering Committee is made up of representatives from:
Neighborhood and business groups who are impacted by the project will also be an integral part of the project implementation. These groups will be updated regularly on the project status. Finally, the project website will be a great resource for the public to learn about the project and provide input and ideas for implementation.
Project Development Update (May 2018):
STA is currently working toward completing 60% design for CCL stations and will review the more advanced design with the community in summer 2018. Community feedback heard during an online open house in winter 2018 is helping the project team refine station design and move the project forward.
STA is now partnering with Spokane Arts to document feedback from residents, businesses, universities, and other agencies on what is important to the character of the area around each station. STA will ask for input on elements that enhance the station “identification,” which could include graphics, art, photos, glass etching, or other features at stations that reflect the unique neighborhoods along the CCL.
The City of Spokane plans to rebuild Riverside Avenue between Howard and Division streets in advance of the Central City Line. STA is working with the City to identify street design possibilities and align them with community values and the CCL. Based on feedback from businesses, property owners and other stakeholders, the City will plan for curbside “island” CCL stations that allow bicycle lanes to pass between the station and the curb and three vehicle lanes.
At the federal level, the president signed the omnibus spending bill for Federal Fiscal Year 2018 earlier this year, which included $400 million for “Small Starts” transit projects. This is an encouraging sign that Small Starts projects like the CCL will continue to receive funding in future budget cycles. The CCL project is currently seeking funding for Federal Fiscal Year 2019 which begins on October 1, 2018.
Other recent CCL work includes:
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Spokane Transit hosted an Online Open House between January 29th and February 16th to share information and gather feedback on the Central City Line (CCL). An Online Open House Summary can be found here.
The online open house is now closed. Thank you for all of the feedback.