I was in meetings for the Transportation Vision Project pretty much ALL day yesterday so didn’t have much time to blog. We hosted three roundtable meetings on three separate topics. Here’s an overview of each:

This meeting was fairly well-attended with several staffers from Spokane Transit, a retired transit planner from another community, members of STA’s Citizens Advisory Committee, a local engineer, a representative from the Inland Empire Rail Transit Association and many others in attendance. Here are some of the points they expressed:

– More transit service is going to be needed soon as the baby boomers age and find alternatives to driving alone.
– We need to look into public/private partnerships to find ways to provide more public transit, such as to the outlying communities that STA doesn’t service and can’t afford to.
– A lot of the aging folks can’t walk 1/2 mile to get to a bus stop so using the bus system isn’t an option for them.
– Spokane can possibly bring in manufacturing businesses in the future because it’s much easier and quicker to move goods here than a place like Seattle where they have to contend with lots of congestion.
– There is a lot of unused right of way and capacity on area roadways, which means room to build things like sidewalks, bike lanes, etc. in the future if money is available.
– The bus system is hard to navigate on weekends because some routes don’t run and others are severely modified for weekend use.
– Our local transit system doesn’t support night life in Spokane, especially the downtown area.
– While some people liked the idea of light rail, others said we should hold out for new technology that may be on the horizon. I haven’t had time yet to look into what this ‘new technology’ could be.

This workshop had a strong turnout by people in the social services industry, such as paratransit, Spokane Regional Health District, Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington, and Holy Family Hospital, to name a few. They coined a new phrase: instead of ’65 and older,’ we’re now calling seniors ’65 and better.’ Here are their other thoughts:

– The ‘hub and spoke’ system that Spokane Transit doesn’t work well for everyone. Not everyone needs to go downtown to get where they’re need to go, but because of the way the system is set up, they have to.
– Allocate smaller buses, such as shuttle buses, to STA routes that have lower ridership numbers, or for during the day when ridership drops.
– Designate more ‘pedestrian mall’ areas like Main Street in downtown Spokane.
– Spokane doesn’t have a ‘rush hour,’ it has a ‘rush minute.’
– There are too many traffic islands and barriers that aren’t marked with reflective tape or paint.
– The majority of the meeting participants said they love the countdown crosswalk timers in the downtown area.
– Real estate agents should tell older or disabled clients if they are within the paratransit service area.
– Extend STA’s service area to cover the area north of Wandermere as it is a huge growth area.

This meeting had small attendance numbers but lots of good ideas. Here are some things I heard:

– Maybe the money that could be collected from possibly requiring bicyclists to register their bikes could be used to pay for bicycle education.
– The gas mileage for a school bus is between 7 and 10 miles per hour.
– Some residents of the East Central neighborhood are hesitant to participate in beautification projects because they are afraid it will bring their property value up, along with their taxes, and price them out of one of the last low income areas in the area.
– Schools should contract with public transit to get children to school.
– There should be storage racks on buses for things like strollers and car seats.

While I was in these meetings, a member of our consultant team was busy posting materials from past meetings on the Vision Project website. Take a look and see what you missed at past meetings if you couldn’t go.

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