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July Networking Lunch Recap - Brandon Rapez-Betty - Spokane Transit Authority

Brandon Rapez-Betty, a former INBA Board Member, joined us for lunch on Wednesday, July 13 to present the first public view of the revised Spokane Transit Authority 10-year plan. STA operates 34 Routes, 134 Buses in the lineup, and 112 Buses during the peak hours in the morning and evening. In 2015, STA provided 10.8 Million rides on regular, fixed-route buses, and 154,000 paratransit rides, to 3.5 million people throughout the year.

Brandon  received his Masters in International Studies in Spanish from University of Idaho, and a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from Eastern Washington University. Brandon fell in love with the Inland Northwest for its bountiful trails and outdoor recreation opportunities, and he’s taking full advantage of that by training for an Ironman in the Fall.

The STA Moving Forward Plan offers a goal to maintain and improve existing service, and expand STA’s service to underserved and not-yet-serviced areas of Spokane County. One of the most pressing goals of the STA Board of Directors is to connect more people to jobs by expanding the hours of service, and the variety of routes available heading downtown. This part of the plan involves two new express commuter routes from Five-Mile Prairie and Liberty lake to Downtown. Additionally, the introduction of a West Plains Transit Center, and the Central City Line through downtown, will streamline service around populous areas and encourage transit use through these high-traffic regions.

STA plans to funds this project through a combination of State and Federal grants, higher revenue through increased ridership, incremental fare increases through the next ten years, and a sales tax increase of up to .2%. Proposition 1, which will appear on the ballot this November, will ask voters to approve this sales tax increase for the express purpose of funding the STA Moving Forward Plan. Currently, STA receives six-tenths of one percent, or .6% of each purchase within Spokane County for transit funding.

What does STA plan to do with this extra .2%? According to Brandon, every dollar received by STA is already designated towards specific use.

  • 44% goes to expanding the transit system to new service areas.
  • 33% is designated towards improving the current transit system.
  • 23% is earmarked towards maintaining the transit capabilities through the maintenance of current vehicles and purchase of replacement vehicles.

You may recall a similar ballot measure on last year’s ballot, what’s different this time around? The STA moving forward plan was narrowly defeated in asking for a .3% increase in sales tax to fund this plan. This time, the plan is asking for a smaller sales tax increase with more immediate benefits (in the scale of the STA 10-year plan) in the hopes that voters will be happy with the short-term improvements and likely to support more STA expansions and improvements down the road.

Thank you, Brandon, for sharing this first glance at the revised STA Moving Forward Plan with Inland Northwest Business Alliance.

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