? Spokane Light Rail
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STA sets aside light rail proposal

Planning committee for project disbanded

Amy Cannata

"Light rail plans ran off-track Thursday evening when the Spokane Transit Authority disbanded the group charged with planning rapid transit between Liberty Lake and downtown Spokane."

"STA Board members unanimously voted to set aside the project, although they commended the Light Rail Steering Committee for its work."

"The board did leave open the possibility of a light rail system some day, however. It approved setting aside $5 million of its 2007 budget for right of way purchases."

"Now is not the time to build light rail, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't preserve the right of way for the future," said Spokane City Councilman and STA Board member Brad Stark.

"The trouble is just what right of way to purchase. Engineering studies to determine how much land and where it's needed have not been completed."

"Several light rail supporters made one last effort to save the project, testifying that to postpone it now would only raise the price in the future and squander an opportunity to improve the community."

"Munson pushed for the Board to further explore bus rapid transit as a cheaper alternative."

"Bus rapid transit was examined earlier in the light rail process but was rejected because fewer people were interested in using it than in riding trains, and it didn't have the same economic development benefits as light rail."

"Light Rail Steering Committee Chairwoman Phyllis Holmes said one last possibility for light rail in Spokane is the Spokane Regional Transportation Council — the only other local group authorized to study regional transportation projects. Its board could take light rail under its wing."


STA meeting likely to settle light rail issue

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
December 13, 2006

"Light rail backers are determined to keep pushing for a commuter train system between Spokane and Liberty Lake even though voters turned down two advisory measures on the issue last month."

"Thursday's Spokane Transit Authority Board meeting will likely decide the light rail question. Board members will vote to continue the project or to kill it for the foreseeable future."

"Members of Spokane Transit Authority's light rail steering committee said at a Monday night holiday potluck and meeting that the STA Board must push on with the project regardless of the November vote."

"Many on the committee said the vote means little because the ballot questions were confusing."

"We don't really know anything. The vote didn't tell us a darned thing," said committee Chairwoman Phyllis Holmes.


STA delays light rail decision

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
November 17, 2006

"The Spokane Transit Authority Board Thursday delayed discussion of whether to proceed planning for a proposed $265 million light rail project between Spokane and Liberty Lake."

"Voters rejected two advisory light rail propositions. The first asked whether STA should conduct a study on how to pay for the project. The second asked if STA should use its existing resources to pay for preliminary engineering and design for the light rail line."

"The board is scheduled to vote on the plan at its Dec. 14 meeting."

Letters to the editor
Sunday, November 5, 2006

Put STA to better use

"Many people are commenting on the pros and cons of light rail. The proposed cost of $265 million (and probably more) for construction is too much for this area to absorb. This is approximately $1,000 per man, woman and child in the greater Spokane area. That doesn't even include operating costs and maintenance after it is built. If a one-way ride is $1 and every person in the area rides it two directions per day, it would take 500 consecutive days just to pay back the construction costs, not including operations and maintenance."

Dan Rash
Spokane Valley


The Right Track?       (the Inlander)


by Joel Smith


Letters to the editor
Friday, October 27, 2006

Focus on alternatives

"Who will light rail east to Liberty Lake benefit? The most obvious beneficiaries would be the businessmen and developers along the rail line. It would steer residents toward a choice of suburban or rural lifestyles."


Liberty Lake News

Advisory vote could bring light rail to Liberty Lake

By Evan Jensen
Splash Editor

"Almost a century ago, Spokane residents could board a train for a 15-mile journey east to Liberty Lake where people played on the beach, dipped their feet in the water and relaxed at a handful of resorts around the lake."

"There’s a lot of reasons for why light rail would benefit Spokane," Traver said. "We’ve based our research on what a lot of other cities have done. Thirty years ago, Portland made a significant investment in light rail. It relieved a lot of traffic and congestion problems and dramatically influenced how Portland developed in a positive way."

"Two advisory votes are on the ballot related to the proposed STA light rail system. Voters will first decide if they want the STA Board of Directors to propose a funding plan to pay for the $263 million system. Voters will also decide to approve or prohibit the STA Board of Directors from investing additional resources and funds to pursue engineering and environmental studies for the proposed light rail system."


Light rail measures to decide next steps

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
October 26, 2006

"In a season of hotly contested congressional and legislative races, two advisory ballot measures about light rail have garnered little attention."

"This is one of those moments in time that is an incredible opportunity," said STA Light Rail Steering Committee chairwoman Phyllis Holmes. "This is one of those windows that's open briefly."

Opponents say the system is too costly for the number of passengers it will carry, that congestion in Spokane County isn't bad enough to warrant light rail, and Spokane County residents can't afford the $263 million price tag, in 2006 dollars.

There are several scenarios, depending on the outcome of the twin votes:

•A "no" vote to both questions would effectively kill the project for the foreseeable future because the STA Board has indicated it won't spend more money on light rail without voter buy-in.

•"Yes" on both would give STA the go-ahead to come up with a specific payment plan and continue work on designing the system.

•"Yes" to only the first would tell STA to come up with a funding plan, but to not spend any more money on light rail until and unless voters approve new taxes.

•And "yes" to only the second question would indicate a desire for STA to use its existing funds to finish up designing a light rail system.


Letters to the editor
Tuesday, September 5, 2006

"Regarding "Light rail or no? Voters to get a say," SR, Aug. 18."

"The board should address how to offset the gas crisis by gaining ridership. Driving empty or with few riders can't pay fuel costs. I say talk with school districts and allow students to ride at a discount rate or free."

John Heffernan


Letters to the editor
Sunday, September 3, 2006

"The planning for light rail lines in the Spokane area is arising again and also arising is the regrettable tub-thumping of the "no taxes of any kind" group. I can only hope that we see beyond this shortsighted attitude and use the possibly last chance we have to economically meet the transportation needs of our region."

"Now is our chance."

Niles Schomburg

Letters to the editor
Tuesday, September 3, 2006

Light rail one pricey ride

"Light rail is not efficient or effective at decreasing congestion. Here are some facts."

Matt Albrecht


Letters to the editor
Tuesday, August 25, 2006

Off-color spending

"When I saw the heading of David Bray's letter regarding light rail ("Light rail a waste of money," Aug. 22), I thought to myself, "Finally something from Mr. Bray that I can agree with." However, some of his comments showed a meanspirited attitude and political blindness that I found to be quite distasteful."

Kevin Decker

Letters to the editor
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Light rail a waste of money

"So now light rail proponents want us to vote on the future of a rail between Spokane and Liberty Lake, after spending 8.5 million taxpayer dollars on "planning" ("Light rail or no? Voters to get a say," Aug. 18)."

"Light rail is one of the most impractical, costly, taxpayer-dependent systems ever conceived, especially in our climate. Not one system built so far pays for itself. Why? Because they don't make economic sense! But sensible thinking never stopped a tax-supported boondoggle from happening."

David Bray

Our View: Decisions in transit

Our View: Officials right to put light-rail issue to a vote

August 20, 2006

"Mass transit solutions have been under serious consideration in Spokane County for nearly 15 years.  About 10 years ago, light rail emerged as the leading option.  The question that has always hovered over its prospects has been: How can we pay for it?"

"The board is wise to put the issue to a vote this fall, because all of the planning, designing and surveying won't matter if light rail doesn't have the backing of the people who will have to pay the bills."

"So, two advisory votes are headed for the ballot. One asks whether voters want the STA board to devise a concrete financing plan. The other asks whether STA should spend $5 million on preliminary engineering work."

Light rail or no? Voters to get a say

Results likely to determine future of Spokane-to-Liberty Lake proposal

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
August 18, 2006

"Spokane-area voters will get their chance this fall to weigh in on a proposed light rail system after four years and $8.5 million worth of planning."

"The Spokane Transit Authority board of directors on Thursday unanimously approved two advisory questions for the November ballot."

"The first question asks if voters want STA to come up with a specific funding plan, most likely including increased local taxes, to put to a binding vote in 2007."

"The second question asks whether STA should use existing funds – about $5 million – to pay for preliminary engineering work."

More bang for buck with bus rapid transit

Bill Luke
Special to The Spokesman-Review
August 9, 2006

"Residents of the Spokane Transit area may vote this year on a light rail plan. The proposal is only for a line from Liberty Lake through the Spokane Valley to downtown Spokane, and the cost is reported to be $300 million. It would take eight years to build."

"A no vote may allow for an alternative – bus rapid transit – which would cost less, be implemented more quickly and would benefit a larger percentage of Spokane Transit patrons. "

Panel wants voters' input on light rail

Amy Cannat
Staff writer
August 5, 2006

"Spokane voters need to know that they, not the federal government, will pay for a proposed $268 million light rail system if it is built between Spokane and Liberty Lake."

"The question is simple, to ask the public, 'Are you willing to pay for this?' " said board member and Spokane Valley City Councilman Dick Denenny, who added that he didn't want people to look at the ballot and think that 70 to 80 percent of the money would come from federal sources.

"Though the outcome of the ballot issues would not bind the board, members have indicated in the past that STA won't spend more money on light rail without voter approval."

STA board delays light rail decision

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
July 21, 2006

The Spokane Transit Authority board is postponing until next month a decision on whether to ask the public this fall if light rail planning should continue.

STA's Light Rail Steering Committee recommended that the board move forward with two years of preliminary design and right-of-way purchases using about $20 million in existing STA funds. Such a plan could be put to an advisory vote this fall to gauge public sentiment.

"We have to ask the right questions first," said Spokane Valley City Councilman and STA board member Richard Munson, who added, "Our citizens are not an unending pot of money for us to spend."

"The board will hold a special meeting in August to discuss light rail options, including funding sources and possible ballot questions for the public's vote in fall."


Public may get say on light rail

STA Board to decide on ballot measure

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
July 17, 2006

"Voters may get a chance this fall to keep a local light rail project on track for two more years."

"This step would cost about $20.5 million over two years – $5 million for preliminary design and planning and $15.5 million in right-of-way purchases along the proposed route between downtown Spokane and Liberty Lake – said Spokane Transit Authority's light rail project manager, K.C. Traver."

"STA already has $2 million set aside for right-of-way purchases."

"Other potential funding sources include as much as $12.5 million in funds earmarked for cooperative road projects with local jurisdictions and STA's undesignated cash account, said STA Finance Director Jim Plaster."

"Plaster projected that reserve will be about $5.2 million by the end of the year."

"The STA Board could also choose to tap $7.5 million in a special operating reserve account that was created to provide some stability should voters not renew a .3 percent sales tax when it expires in 2008."

"No bus service would be cut to pay for light rail planning and right of way said STA CEO Susan Meyer."


County considers transfer of land for Appleway extension

County wants land to be used for light rail, city wants couplet to take priority

Jonathan Brunt
Staff writer
June 10, 2006

"Spokane Valley really needs to address future traffic needs and that is the extension of Appleway," said Spokane Valley City Councilman Mike DeVleming at a joint city-county meeting Wednesday.

"County leaders have pushed for a guarantee that some of the land be set aside for a mass transit system like light rail. Valley officials, however, had argued that the land should not come with stipulations."

"The valley council members at Wednesday's meeting indicated they could support setting aside land for light rail if the extension of Appleway takes priority."


Rail system cost would be within cap

Voters might have a say this fall on continued plans

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
June 9, 2006

"Building a light rail system between downtown Spokane and Liberty Lake would cost an estimated $381 million over the next eight years."

"That's $265 million in today's dollars, according to the Spokane Transit Authority's new estimates, which is within the $300 million cap set by the agency's board of directors in April."

"Lackey cautioned the group that waiting too long to build a light rail system could be costly because construction costs are rapidly escalating."


Letters to the editor
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Money wasted on light rail

"If you are one of the people who diligently scour the Sunday paper, you might have noticed the eight pages of color printing propaganda that was put out by the Spokane Transit bunch. Notably this was projected just before another proposal for another comprehensive transit plan is being organized."

Dave Darlow


Downtown streetcars urged

Proponents say system would complement longer-distance light rail operations

Amy Cannat
Staff writer
April 26, 2006

"Spokane-area voters haven't even gotten a crack at deciding whether they want a regional light rail system, but some downtown Spokane development proponents are talking up the possibility of a smaller-scale downtown streetcar system."

"The light rail system brings people downtown. The streetcar system circulates those people," said Traver.

"In Spokane's case, light rail would connect the city with Liberty Lake and Spokane Valley. As proposed, a streetcar would transport people around the downtown Spokane core, between the Riverpoint campus and the Spokane County Courthouse."

"Light rail planning is significantly further along in Spokane than streetcar work. While the Spokane Transit Authority Board has narrowed light rail options down to one possibility, the Downtown Spokane Partnership has just released its completed streetcar feasibility study."



Committee recommends light rail

System funding still needs study, STA board says

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
April 21, 2006

"If Spokane gets a mass transit system someday, it will be light rail, not bus rapid transit."

"The Spokane Transit Authority board of directors accepted Thursday the recommendation of its appointed Light Rail Steering Committee that a diesel, light rail system, traveling along a southern Valley track between downtown Spokane and Liberty Lake, is its preferred mass transit alternative. But the board also expressed concerns about a lack of information regarding how to pay for building and operating such a system."

"Board members told the rail committee to come back with more information on funding before any options are put to a public vote."



Letters to the editor
Sunday, March 19, 2006

Derail light rail plan

"STA's Light Rail Steering Committee chairperson, Phyllis Holmes, should climb aboard the next bus home before her campaign for light rail service spews more red ink on a city that's submerged in the stuff now."

Jock Swanstrom

Letters to the editor
Friday, March 17, 2006

PRT a better option

"A much cheaper Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) is an alternative to the proposed light rail system."

"A PRT vehicle is a driverless, fully enclosed mini-car that moves 25 mph on a monorail 16 feet above street or alley level. Waiting time for your four-passenger pod is less than two minutes. You climb in, select a destination and computers figure out the best route."

"The cost is $7-10 million per mile versus $300 million for the 14-mile Liberty Lake line. Elevated monorails could crisscross Spokane County for less money and more personal convenience than light rail or buses."

Leonard Butters

Panel says light rail system ready for next steps

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
March 9, 2006

"It's time for Spokane to move forward with an east-west light rail system, said members of Spokane Transit's light rail steering committee Wednesday after six years of studying mass transit options for Spokane County."

"The group's formal recommendation will be presented later this month to the STA Board. It calls for a single-track system utilizing single-car diesel trains at 15-minute intervals, stopping at 14 stations between downtown Spokane and Liberty Lake. "

Letters to the editor
Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Light rail has potential

"Lately I have noticed many letters in regards to light rail in Spokane. I have mixed feelings about whether it will work in this area at this time but I think we all need to look to the future."

"In Heather Chapman's letter, she stated that mass transportation is not practical for families ("Light rail family unfriendly," Feb. 17).  Funny, but we were able to do everything on buses and subways in New York."

John Beaton


Letters to the editor
Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Light rail a disaster

"Sometimes I think the people who are pushing light rail transit live in a world of rainbows and Skittles falling from the sky with prancing leprechauns and unicorns as playmates. Give me a break."

"Heather Chapman was right on target ("Light rail family unfriendly," Feb. 17). Eljay Swartz needs a dose of reality ("Light rail on track with family," Feb. 23)."

David Bray


Letters to the editor
Thursday, February 23, 2006

Light rail on track with family

"Reading "Light rail family unfriendly" (Feb. 17), Heather Chapman insists light rail transit (LRT) could not be utilized by families with children yet she offers no basis for her argument."

"At one-third of a percent sales tax (that's $3 a month for the average family, less even than a Starbucks latte or $3 you'll otherwise spend sitting in the traffic you could have avoided), you'll get cleaner air, reduced traffic congestion and a smarter, healthier and more vibrant city. What's it worth to you?"

Eljay Swartz


Heavy cost for light rail

$300 million plan may go before voters

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
February 4, 2006

"Spokane voters may be asked this fall to approve the most ambitious public works project the region has ever undertaken – a light rail system between Spokane and Liberty Lake."

"Though a final option hasn't been selected, the transit group studying the issue is preparing a recommendation that calls for single-car diesel trains running at 15-minute intervals. The plan would set a spending cap of $300 million and have the light rail system up and running by 2014."


Chances dwindling for transit plan input

Money uncertainties on minds of promoters

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
January 31, 2006

"The coming weeks offer the public its last chance to help shape an array of rapid-transit alternatives that range from a $657 million electrified train system running every 10 minutes, to doing nothing other than maintaining and expanding the current bus system. Only one of the options is likely to be selected for voter consideration."

"In just a few months, after the STA board has chosen its preferred option, the public's only choice will be yes or no to that proposal."

Letters to the editor
Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Rail study waste of money

"Several months ago, the Spokane Transit Authority whined and cried about how they were going broke and needed more funds or will need to cut services. They touted this for months to get an increase on the ballot."

David Darlow


Rail plan is running late but on track

STA hopes to decide by April which light rail option, if any, to build

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
January 11, 2006

"After months of delay, Spokane's light rail planning is hitting the fast track."

"The Federal Transit Administration has signed off on the Spokane Transit Authority document describing and comparing the different alternatives, STA's Light Rail Task Force is launching a final public opinion poll, and STA board members are preparing to select a preferred option for transporting people via rapid transit between downtown Spokane and Liberty Lake."


Track to the Future; an Old Solution to Modern Problems

Paul K. Haeder / Joel Smith
January 5-11, 2006

This is a collection of articles that capture the history of transportation throughout the United Staes, and specifically in Spokane, over the last 100 years.  One article entitled, Could it Happen Here? features K.C. Traver, Light Rail Project Manager, in a dialogue about the light rail project.  Key quotes are:
"In 1910, three times as many riders utilized Spokane's Electric Trolley system than use Spokane Transit's bus system today, depite a population that was less than half the size Spokane is today."
"America will be in a storm of ever-increasing gas costs because of the poor choices we've made since the 1950s that all centered on neighborhood growth, service economy, manufacturing expansion, culture and individual wants around sprawl, sububrbia, highways and the automobile."
"The passenger train must be restored as a critical part of our cultural and social infrastructure."

"We are talking about a true lifestyle based on the cocept of high usage of public transportation."

"Mass transit is not only vital to the affluent that choose to leave their cars at home more often, but it can't be the difference between living in or out of poverty for those who just can't afford to own a car."

September 29, 2005

Molly Myers, Communications Manager, was interviewed today by KREM TV News (channel 2)about the Light Rail Project.The key topics of discussion were:

• What are the high capacity transit options up for discussion?

• When will the citizens be given the opportunity to vote on this issue?

• What are the long term effects for this region with the “no build” scenario?Key message points stressed by Molly were:

• The options fall into three categories: Light Rail, Bus Rapid Transit, and “No Build.”

• Each of these options has strengths and weaknesses.

• The decision on if and when the community will have the opportunity to vote rests with the

STA Board of Directors.

• The ultimate decision on this project rests with the voters.

• In discussing long-term effects, we need to remind ourselves as to why we began the project

in the first place: planning for the future transportation issues for the region.

Overall, the tone of the story is expected to be positive.

"Viable" key word for any future plan

Larry Blanchard
Special to Voice
July 23, 2005

"As far as I'm concerned, a smelly diesel bus is a smelly diesel bus, even if it does run on rails. Thank you, but no thank you."

"Nothing would please me more than a viable electric interurban from downtown, through Spokane Valley, to Liberty Lake. Or even on to Coeur d'Alene like the old ones. But "viable" is the thorn in the rosebush. I just don't believe it'll be anything but a drain on the taxpayers, local, state and national."

Light rail could pump up area

Study shows line could bring 16,000 jobs, increased property values

Amy CannataStaff writer
May 8, 2005

"A light-rail line between downtown Spokane and Liberty Lake could bring more than 16,000 jobs and increase nearby property values by $780 million over the next 20 years, according to a preliminary economic analysis of the proposed project."


Commissioners revisiting right of way for light rail

City of Spokane Valley would get land, but transfer conditions would be altered

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
April 29, 2005

"Even if the public supports a future light rail system, an upcoming Spokane County Commission decision may throw the project off-track."

"Commissioners are revisiting a 2004 decision to transfer ownership of former Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad property to the city of Spokane Valley."


New option expands light-rail possibilities
Plan would run transit from downtown to Liberty Lake

Amy Cannata
Staff writer
November 18, 2004

"Members of a committee studying light-rail possibilities in the region learned Wednesday about a new option to run rapid transit between downtown Spokane and Liberty Lake."


September 7, 2004
Metro Magazine

Traffic congestion is growing across the nation in cities of all sizes, according to 20-year trends in a new report released Tuesday.

The 2004 Urban Mobility Report, published by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), shows traffic consuming more hours of the day, and affecting more travelers and shipments of goods than ever before.

More of the same is expected, said the study's authors.

"We can see pretty clearly what 20 years of almost continuous economic growth can do to us," said Tim Lomax, one of the study's authors. "If we are lucky enough to sustain this growth and the funding levels and options do not increase from current trends, we shouldn't be surprised if we see even more congestion."

Among its conclusions, the TTI study found that the average annual delay time per peak period traveler climbed from 16 hours in 1982 to 46 hours in 2002.

Southern California's traffic jams ranked the worst in the nation for the 18th consecutive year.

Commuters in Los Angeles, Orange and parts of Ventura counties waste an average of 93 hours a year idling in gridlock.

The cost of congestion in 85 major U.S. urban areas in 2002 totaled more than $63 billion. Between 1982 and 2002, the study found that travel time saved because of public transportation increased four-fold.

The report also measures the mobility-improving contributions of public transportation service and techniques to improve roadway operating efficiency.

In 2002, regular bus and train services in America’s most congested cities saved travelers 1.1 billion hours in travel time.

Without public transportation, nationwide travel delays would have increased by 32%, costing residents in the major urban areas studied an additional $20 billion in lost time and fuel.


Transit options may save millions
Planners mulling bus rapid-transit system, scaled-back light-rail line to University City
Amy Cannata
Staff writer
July 20, 2004
The Spokesman-Review

"Spokane residents could get a bargain-basement rapid-transit system if regional transportation planners scale back plans for a proposed light-rail line between downtown Spokane and Liberty Lake."


Spokane Regional Light Rail Project
Based on the original site:  © Copyright 2003 Spokane Light Rail
Modified 2008 by and for The Inland Empire Rail Transit Association