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 (October 2017)
The project development process is moving forward, with the Small Starts ratings package submitted in September 2017. The environmental documentation for the project was submitted along with the ratings package.
The ratings package includes a significant amount of information required by FTA for consideration of a Small Starts Grant. This information includes cost estimates for the construction and operating costs for the project, environmental benefits, land use impacts and benefits, financial capacity of STA to support the construction and operations of the CCL, economic development benefits, local financial commitments and a host of other construction and operating factors. A summary of the process and ratings criteria can be found here. Based on the FTA ratings criteria, it is anticipated that the project will receive a Medium- rating, which meets the minimum FTA criteria for funding.
Locally, STA is working with the local community to refine station design and location with ongoing public outreach . STA is currently developing a station identification policy framework for minor design revisions for station locations to integrate into neighborhoods.
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