A sales tax increase of a tenth of a penny went into effect Saturday to help pay for improvements to Spokane Transit’s bus services over the coming decade, according to the Spokesman-Review. STA will use the new funding  to build up the bus system and carry more passengers.

This tax increase will be followed by a second increase of a tenth of a cent on April 1, 2019. The increased sales tax would raise more than $200 million during that time. Both taxes expire at the end of 2028 unless extended by voters.

The major project the tax increase will fund (along with grants) is the Central City Line from Browne’s Addition through downtown and the University District to Spokane Community College. The rapid transit line is expected to draw new development around it.

STA also plans new and expanded park and ride lots, an expanded transit center at SCC and a new West Plains transit center along Interstate 90 at the Medical Lake exit. Phase 1 of the West Plains center is scheduled for 2018. Spokane Valley would get a new or expanded park and ride near the Spokane Valley Mall among other improvements. A new through-line would run from Five Mile to Moran Prairie. Five Mile has an existing park and ride, and now Moran Prairie would get a new park and ride as early as 2019.

Smaller upgrades that start as early as May include extending nighttime service on Saturdays beyond 11 p.m. Weekend bus frequency to Airway Heights is going to increase during peak travel hours starting in May.Also, new weekday service on Indiana and Broadway avenues in Spokane Valley will be improved in an initial phase on a new No. 95 bus to serve the mid-valley area. Wellesley Avenue, which borders Northtown Mall will get greater weekend service starting next month.

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