Monday, June 30, 2008

Hat's off to our clean air folks in Spokane County

According to Men's Health magazine the Spokane region's airshed is among the highest quality airsheds in the nation. In the "greenest drivers" section of the magazine's analysis, the Spokane airshed ranked eighth overall and fourth cleanest airshed in terms of ozone occurrences. Check out this map of statistics. We also waste the least amount of gas. Check out out the tabs on the map.

You can read how they analyzed the top 100 cities for clean automobiles in this article.

In the "towns that breathe easy" section of the magazine (an overall air quality assessment), Spokane ranked 39th in the nation with a grade of B-. You can read that story here.

So I wonder why Idaho is trying to set an expensive and archaic vehicle emissions testing program in Kootenai County?

Gas Tax Goes Up By 1.5 Cent

Get ready folks, the gas tax is going up again- starting tomorrow. On Tuesday, the tax jumps by a penny-and-a-half to 37.5 cents a gallon in Washington.

The hike is the last step of a 9.5 cent increase that's been phased in since 2005. It was approved by the Legislature to help fund nearly 300 projects over 16 years.

Of the $8.5 billion that various new transportation taxes will raise over 16 years, nearly $3.5 billion will be spent on major Seattle-area projects: a downtown elevated highway, a floating bridge, and work on I-405. Other projects include more bridge repairs, reducing congesting, making highway safety improvements, improving freight mobility and $152 million for the North Spokane Corridor.

With the way gas has been going up recently, officials says the tax increase is “not going to be real noticeable” because it’s a diminishing component of the overall price.

Reason # 998 to wear your bicycle helmet...

Be sure to read this story to the grizzly end. Be careful out there.

Construction Work To Knock Off Early Thursday

Good news for people trying to get in or out of town for the Fourth of July holiday. The WSDOT says most construction work will be suspended by noon on Thursday, July 3 in anticipation of the increased holiday traffic. Work will resume on Monday, July 7.

Hands-Free Law Starts Tomorrow

Get that hands-free device if you haven't already, the new cell phone lasw starts tomorrow. And find a detour if you use the Barker Road Bridge, it's closing for a while. Here's this week's roundup from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Interested in Congressional efforts to ease the pain at the pump?

I did a little research into the story below about how oil speculation in the commodities market was hyper-inflating the price of oil. I came across this page of testimony and evidence that was given members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week. If you are a dull policy wonk like myself, you can watch the experts brief congress on the issue, or view their powerpoint presentations and view investigative findings. It's all there...and if your concerned about the cost of oil, it is very interesting.

Hoopfest Closures, Hoop Loop Bus Pass

Many downtown streets will be converted to basketball courts this weekend, beginning at 7 p.m. tonight, through 10 p.m. Sunday, for the Annual Hoopfest 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament.

North-south routes will be limited; though access will be maintained on Lincoln, Howard, Bernard, Monroe, and Division streets. The main grid downtown will be closed to traffic including: Sprague Ave. from Howard to Lincoln streets; Main Ave. from Lincoln to Browne streets; Riverside Ave. from Bernard to Monroe streets; Broadway Ave. east of Monroe, Mallon Ave. from Post St. to the west side of The Flour Mill; Washington St. northbound at Sprague Ave. and southbound at Northriver Dr.; Wall St. from Spokane Falls Blvd. to Second Ave.; Post St. from Main to Sprague avenues; Post St. between Mallon and Broadway avenues as well as the Post St. Bridge; and Spokane Falls Blvd. at its intersection with Bernard St.

You may want to avoid driving in the downtown area and take advantage of the special Spokane Transit Authority ‘Hoop Loop’ pass which is good on regular routes and shuttles that go back and forth from parking on the outskirts of downtown. Call 328-RIDE to get a pass.

Wall Street Project Complete

Wall St. from Francis to Wellesley avenues has reopened to traffic after being closed to rehabilitate Wall St. from 200 feet south of Wellesley Avenue to Francis. Crews also replaced an 18-inch water main and paved the intersection of Wall St. and Wellesley Ave. with concrete.

Drivers can expect obstructions for the next week while the final detail work is done.

The $1.67 million project was funded with money provided by the 10-Year Street Bond and Spokane Transit Authority.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Analysts say Congress can provide relief in gas prices

According to four energy security analysts who testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, gas prices are hyper-inflated purely by speculators on Wall Street and are not supported by market dynamics.

In fact, they say that crude oil prices should be somewhere around $60 a barrel -- not the $140 per barrel that it's current trading for on the futures markets.

One analyst said that it wouldn't even take 30 days to drive prices lower if Congress stepped in to regulate speculation because fund managers would quickly liquidate their positions in futures markets.

"Record oil prices are inflated by speculation and not justified by market fundamentals," according to Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer & Co. "Based on supply and demand fundamentals, crude-oil prices should not be above $60 per barrel."

Read the rest of the story here.

Man, I hope they are right and Congress has the political will to act accordingly. We will continue to monitor this...stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Interesting Idea From A Spokesman Reader

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Make drunk drivers safe ones

Why not let the drunk driver, convicted, submit to mandatory free "drunk cab" service? A free ride in a drunk cab would mean a sober driver (they would have special cars with breathalyzers built into the ignition) could have the chance to repay society through a lifetime of service driving the drunk cab.

A drunk cab would mean a safe, sober ride home regardless of the hour and never a charge. Drunk-cab drivers would have a lifetime of jail time suspended, only once, to be out in the world free and full of life, preventing the reason they are there.

Over time the drunk cabs would outweigh the normal traffic. And the roads would be much safer if there was a win-win alternative.

Michael Galasyn

Okay, this is extreme. But there are some communities who have gone to the extent of starting non-profit agencies staffed by volunteers to drive intoxicated people home. I have also heard of a company where the employees ride those mini-bikes that were popular a couple years ago to a bar when you call for a ride. Once there, they load you into the passenger seat of your own car, the mini-bike into the trunk, and drive you home. They ride the mini-bike home, or back to work, and you pass out, with your car safely in the garage. It's a win-win situation. So what's your idea to keep drunk drivers off the road?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Oldest Profession Feeling Strain Of High Gas Prices

Think you're feeling the pain of high gas prices? Try running a brothel in Nevada. Normally I wouldn't post a story about prostitution on this blog (especially if my boss were in town) but this story illustrates how every sector of the population is affected by the high gas prices and slow economy.

With fuel prices at an all-time high, employees at Nevada's 28 legal brothels say truckers who frequent the brothels no longer have extra money to spend. The brothels are now even offering incentives to keep their clients, including gas cards.

Read the story and tell us if gas prices are hurting your employer or changing the way you do business. But don't tell us if you work for a brothel. We don't want to know.

Interesting Sunday in Portland...

Check this story out. The city of Portland shutdown a 6-mile loop to automobiles on Sunday and it went over pretty well. Apparently they tied the bike and pedestrian holiday into a series of festive events along the auto-free loop. I've heard some talk of trying this on a couple of streets in Spokane. Some people have even mentioned trying to do it on the entire downtown network on a sunny Sunday afternoon to see how it goes over.

What do you think? Does Spokane have enough interest in bicycling to pull something like this off?

Joe Albi Traffic Meeting

A second meeting will be held this week to discuss how to handle an increased amount of traffic to the Joe Albi Sports Complex that will be caused by the construction of a new sports complex on the stadium site.

The meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday, June 24 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt Street. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.
The complex will be payed for with funds from a $42.9 million bond issue recently approved by voters. Phase 1 of the project will include softball and soccer fields, a skateboard park, a BMX bike course, play equipment, trails and improved parking.

In addition to funding from the bond, improvements at the Joe Albi Stadium Complex will also be funded by $4 million from the sale of park property that was approved by City voters in 1999 and subsequently held in reserve.

Division Street Obstructions Tuesday

Southbound Division Street will be reduced to two lanes at the Spokane River Bridge tomorrow, Tuesday, June 24, from 9:00 a.m. until as late as 3:00 p.m. for repairs. Motorists should expect slow traffic, congestion, and possible delays.

New WSDOT Spinoff Blog

Many of you have used the Washington State Department of Transportation Blog in the past to get information on the state of our roads, funding, etc. Well, the WSDOT blog is expanding. The agency has just introduced a spin off blog devoted specifically to WSDOT projects. The first project is to be highlighted is the Guide Meridian widening, which doesn't directly impact us, but check back, I'm sure we'll be seeing some area projects profiled soon.

Aimless Wandering Or Epic Adventure?

Got a free day, a car, and no particular place to go? Maybe you should try a “right-left-straight adventure.”

Here's the 4-1-1 on the newest kind of roadtrip

Construction, Construction, & More Construction

Maple Street, Belt Street, Freya Street, and 24th Avenue. All areas to avoid because of construction projects. Here's this week's wrapup from the Spokesman-Review's 'Getting There' column.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

AT&T Using Law To Push Hands-Free Devices

This made me laugh when I found it in my email inbox this morning. AT&T is apparently using our new state law against driving and talking on anything other than a wireless device as a way to sell more of their products. You've got to hand it to them for playing on our fears though :)

Plainclothes Agent At Ferry Terminal Spying On Passengers?

The Border Patrol is being criticized once again for using a plainclothes agent to monitor activity at the Anacortes ferry terminal. A worker at the terminal said he was approached by the agent to "inform on citizens," in his words.

The worker says the agent is essentially spying on ferry passengers – and approaching state workers to do the same.

Read the story and give us your opinion on the situation.

Maple Street Bridge Closed Friday

Maple Street will close from First to Boone avenues on Friday for construction, then from Boone to Northwest Boulevard on Monday. Ash is now open south from Northwest Boulevard. But crews continue to pour concrete at the Northwest Boulevard and Ash intersection, which remains closed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Uhmm, You might want to hold off on that electric car

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a bug that ate trash and pooped out crude oil. That would sure solve a lot of problems these...

Well apparently there is. Check out This story.

Don't Forget To Take The Ped Plan Survey

If you haven't already taken the SRTC/Spokane Regional Health District Pedestrian Plan survey, this is your reminder to do so. Time is running out, the last day to take the survey is June 23.

Click Here's the link to take the survey, and forward it on to your friends and co-workers please.

It was bound to happen sooner or later

Gas siphoning has most likely been a problem since the internal combustion engine was invented, but with gas prices the way they are, it looks like it's becoming an extreme problem.

My neighbor, who is foreman for a construction firm in North Idaho, told me that he showed up for work the other day only to find that all the fuel had been siphoned out of their equipment. He said by the time he had refueled all of the equipment it cost him over $1,000, not including the cost of paying six employees to sit around until they could refuel.

Apparently organized crime is now getting into the game. Check out this story out of Florida.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Expensive Gas, Cheap Weapons

I saw a couple of really disturbing things on my lunchtime trip up to the northside today. The first was the price of gas at the Conoco on the corner of Maple and Northwest Boulevard. $4.26 a gallon! Yikes, I almost rear-ended the car in front of me.

The second was a sign in someone's front yard a couple blocks from there that read, 'Stun guns $20.'

Ghost Hot Spot: Washington Ferries?

For those of you heading to the west side this summer for siteseeing or other reasons, keep your wits about you if you ride the ferries. You may encounter a rider that's not alive (insert spooky music here).

A 'ghost hunter' group wants access to retired ferries on Washington's west side to research what they believe is the existence of at least one ghost on the boats. Here you go. Read the story and tell me if you've ever sensed a 'presence' on an area transportation facility. I have, but it turned out to just be an extremely intoxicated man on the East Sprague bus route.

Is Turnabout Fair Play?

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Price turnabout is fair play

OPEC sells oil for $136 a barrel.
OPEC nations buy U.S. grain at $7 a bushel.
Solution: Sell grain for $136 a bushel.
Can't buy it? Tough! Eat oil!

Lloyd Zimmerman

Do you agree with Mr. Zimmerman, that we should we play hardball?

Monday, June 16, 2008

New Honda Zero-Emission Car

Honda today rolled out a new zero-emission, hydrogen fuel cell car, but you and I won't be driving one anytime soon. The 'FCX Clarity,' which runs on hydrogen and electricity, emits only water and none of the noxious fumes believed to induce global warming. It is also two times more energy efficient than a gas-electric hybrid and three times that of a standard gasoline-powered car, the company says. The problem? A lack of hydrogen fuel stations. Here's the story.

Naked Rides Draw Attention To Bicyclists' Rights?

In other parts of the world, some people seem to think that riding their bikes naked will draw attention to bicyclists' rights. There were two naked bike rides this weekend, one in Sao Paulo and one in Manchester.

I was going to suggest we (meaning other people besides me) try this in our area to demand more respect for bicyclists, but both rides didn't end so happily (note the picture above of the nude rider being kicked in the groin by police).

Here's the story on the Manchester ride.

City Tour

Here's something different for you. In view of the high gas prices, the Spokesman-Review is running a series on things to do in Spokane this summer instead of leaving town on vacation. Today's article is about the old and new 'City Drives' through Spokane, which are intended to showcase Spokane attractions. Here's the link. Let us know if you've ever actually followed the 'City Drive' signs. I've always noticed them but never given much thought to them.

Freya Detour, Pedestrian Survey, and Sherman Pass Work

It's officially construction season. Here's
a wrapup of everything going on this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Be Careful Out There...

Is it just me, or does it seem that there is an abnormal amount of drunk driving related tragedies lately? I just came across this incredible picture of a drunk driver who killed one and injured 10 others during a bicycle race on the US/Mexican border yesterday. You can read the full story here.


Flood damage closes part of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's

Man, you'd think we would be past all of this flooding by now, but I guess there is no use in complaining. At least this Father's Day weekend looks like it'll be a good one, but if you were planning to get dad out on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alene's don't expect to get too far. According to the Spokesman Review this morning, last month's floods washed out a 170-foot section of trail and eroded portions of the bank. About 18 miles of the trail remain closed between the Harrison and Bull Run trailheads. You can read veteran reporter Becky Kramer's story here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Broadway Realignment Project Starts Monday

The Broadway realignment project is set to begin next Monday, June 16. The project will realign the Broadway Ave. connection to Freya St., moving the connection one block south to Alki Ave. Additional improvements will be made to improve traffic circulation.

Beginning at 7 a.m. on Monday, Freya St. will be reduced by two lanes with one lane in each direction remaining open to traffic.

The $2.1 million project is funded with money from federal sources and City funds.

Don't Say You Weren't Warned

The northbound lanes of Country Homes Blvd. will be closed to through traffic from Francis Avenue to Wall Street this weekend for sewer maintenance work.

Gas Prices Creating More Pedestrians

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Gas prices fuel pedestrianism

The price of eveything has gone up, again and again. Every week – if not every day – they add a few pennies to the price of just about everything. As a single mom, I found myself without gas or even a dollar for the bus. I had no choice but to walk to work – so I did – from near Havana to near downtown. Apparently all one has to do is walk along Sprague Avenue to be stopped and held/delayed by the police for suspicion of prostitution. It seems that the police haven't grasped onto the notion that respectable mothers may now be forced to walk. But they had better get used to it, because it looks like I'll have to make that walk again. Pedestrians beware.

Kristine Schuler

Wow, how humiliating! What's the worst that's happened to you while walking? Ever been sprayed by water when a car drove through a puddle or yelled at by dirty old men? I had a boyfriend who used to have long hair when he was younger and was kind of skinny. He said a truckfull of teenage boys pulled up behind him one time hooting and hollering and telling him to, 'Shake it, baby.' Guess they were kind of surprised when he turned around and they saw he was a guy :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Take Our Pedestrian Plan Survey!!

SRTC is teaming up with the City of Spokane, the Spokane Regional Health District, and the Regional Pedestrian Plan Committee to develop a Regional Pedestrian Plan. In order to put this plan together, we are looking for feedback on a variety of issues affecting pedestrians. Attached is a link to the Regional Pedestrian Plan survey. The information gathered through this survey will be used to identify areas/issues in the region that should be focused on to make it easier to walk in our community. We would like your comments regardless of the amount of walking you do.

Please take the time to complete this survey and provide us with valuable information by June 23rd. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Just In Case You Didn't See The Snow In Person

Taken this morning near Worley

Old I-90 Bridge Replacement Open House

The public is invited to an open house for the Old I-90 bridge project near Stateline, ID. The bridge is deteriorating and needs to be replaced. The project is scheduled to begin in 2010 and take approximately one year to complete.
The open house will be held on Thursday, June 12th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Spokane Valley Fire Station No. 3 (2218 N. Harvard Road). During the open house, the public will have an opportunity to discuss the project in detail, including its potential impact on local traffic.

For more information, contact Spokane County Division of Engineering and Roads at (509) 477-3600, or visit the county website at

4th Street Merchants Want More Parking, Not Less

A proposed idea to reduce street parking on Fourth Street in Coeur d'Alene caused tension for some attendees at a public meeting last night. Some people say too many 'ammenities like street lights, wide sidewalks, and street trees are replacing parking in the area. Here's the story. Read it and answer some of these questions I had after reading this article:

1.)Since when have people who make between $40,000-$80,000 a year been considered eligible for 'workforce housing?'
2.) Since when is workforce housing considered to be condos in the price range of $130,000 to $300,000? and
3.)Do motorists on Fourth Street really only drive between 16 and 20 miles per hour?

WSDOT Gets The Plows Back Out

I'm truly losing it. Is this some kind of joke? I've had the boat in the water for weeks, only to stare at it from shore because IT'S BEEN RAINING FOR WEEKS. Now, some joker up there is dropping snow on us. I'm not the only one complaining though, the WSDOT doesn't sound very happy about having to re-activate their snowplows and other snow-fighting equipment for the passes. Here's a link to the WSDOT blog where they talk about what they're doing this late in the season to deal with the weather and what they'd normally be doing this time of year with those trucks and workers.

Should Adult Riders Be Forced To Wear Helmets?

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Helmet enforcement ludicrous

I am a recent addition to the growing number of bicyclists. On my way home from work at an area hospital, I was stopped by two Spokane officers, lack of a bike helmet apparently being cause to interrogate me for 15 minutes, under spotlight. Where was I going? Where do I work? What hospital? What is my supervisor's name? How long have I worked there? Where do I live? Pure harassment and looking for an excuse to escalate the scenario or search me.

I had full identification, no record of any kind and was simply going home. The situation was ludicrous. The state of Washington has no helmet law, only cities and counties. I also found that Washington cities have the harshest helmet laws in the country.

I cherish the wind-in-my-hair, sun-on-my-face feeling. It should be an adult's decision to ride his bicycle without helmet. Is this just another reason to shake down citizens? I am sure there was something else these officers could have been doing in town to "crack" down on crime. Change the law. The wind is still in my hair.

Phillip Dean Petty

Does anyone else agree with Mr. Petty that bike helmets for adults should be a rider's own personal choice?

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's A Bike, It's A Vehicle... It's An Electric Bike!

A Spokane man says he's beaten the problem of high gas prices. Mike Cameron has built himself an electric bike to ride to and from work, at the amazingly low price of 16 cents a day! (Did I sound like an infomercial announcer there?)

Here's his story and it even includes a mention of our good buddy Aurora Crooks from the County.

An electric bike was an option that never would have occured to me? Would you spend $2,000 to build one? Or do you have other ideas, besides walking, carpooling, vanpooling, and riding your bike, to commute on the cheap?

Roundup For the Week of June 9 (Is It Really June Already?)

Speed limits are falling around area parks, don't plan to drink and boat in Idaho this summer, and a whole mess of other transportation-related items. Here's the roundup this week from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column.

Wall Street Open House

A reminder that the public is invited to an open house tonight for the Wall Street paving project that will begin in June. The open house is from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Country Homes Christian Church (8415 N. Wall St.).

The public will have an opportunity to discuss project details and the timeline with county staff.

The Wall Street project is extensive and will impact traffic in the following areas:

- Wall St. from Greta Ave. to Whitworth Dr. – June-August, 2008.
- Wall St. from Greta Ave. to Hawthorne Ave. – CLOSED from June 23-July 7, 2008.
(Wall St. from Greta Ave. to Country Homes will then be opened.)
- Country Homes to Hawthorne Ave. will remain CLOSED until July 14, 2008.

During these closures, travelers will need to use alternate routes. All other
road work will be accomplished with Wall Street open to traffic, but with lane restrictions in effect.

For more information, contact Spokane County Division of Engineering and Roads at (509) 477-3600, or visit the county website at

Seeking Public Input On The Albi Sports Complex

The following meeting has been scheduled to gather public input related to traffic at the Albi Sports Complex. The public is encouraged to attend.

Traffic Scoping Community Meeting #2
Meeting: Tuesday, June 24, 2008, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Location: West Central Community Center
Address: 1603 N. Belt Street

In addition to the development of a variety of aquatics and youth sports projects throughout the City of Spokane, the $42.9 million Parks Improvement Bond will fund development of Phase 1 of a new Sports Complex on the Joe Albi Stadium site located north and slightly west of the current Stadium. Phase 1 will include softball and soccer fields, a skateboard park, a BMX bike course, play equipment, trails and improved parking. In addition to funding from the bond, improvements at the Joe Albi Stadium Complex will also be funded by $4 million from the sale of park property that was approved by City voters in 1999 and subsequently held in reserve.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Is NextBus The Next Transit Step For Spokane?

One of the most frustrating things about transit is the information gap riders experience when waiting for their bus or train. That's why our buddies at the blog 'MetroSpokane' are promoting a service called 'NextBus' that provides riders realtime information about the arrival of their ride. Here's how it works. What do you think? Is NextBus feasible for Spokane?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Seattle Peds Better Behaved Than Spokane's?

Spokesman-Review Letters to the editor
Don't let laws go unenforced

Although my office is in downtown Spokane, I'm frequently in downtown Seattle. The difference in pedestrian behavior is striking.

I've seldom driven through downtown Spokane without seeing someone just walk right into the street on a red light. In Seattle, it's rare to see anyone cross on a red light, even if there is no traffic. Locals will tell you that you'll get at least a $50 ticket for doing that.

I finally understood why Spokane has such a problem with pedestrian bad behavior when I saw the letter from Jeff Harvey, vice president of the Spokane Police Guild ("Keep ticket books holstered," May 8). Mr. Harvey felt it necessary to inform everyone that most Spokane Police Guild members believe it unnecessary to enforce the pedestrian laws.

There's a big difference between using discretion when viewing a violation and telling people outright that tickets will not be issued for a violation. We have enough problems with people not taking responsibility for their own actions – either enforce the law or repeal the law, but please don't just ignore it.

E. David Sani

Do you agree with Mr. Sani? Do Spokane pedestrians take it for granted that they won't be punished (besides being hit by a car) for jaywalking?

Wall Street Construction Open House

The public is invited to an open house for the Wall Street paving project that will begin in June. The open house is on Monday, June 9th from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall at Country Homes Christian Church (8415 N. Wall St.). During the open house, the public will have an opportunity to discuss project details and the timeline with county staff.

The Wall Street project is extensive and will impact traffic in the following areas:

• Wall St. from Greta Ave. to Whitworth Dr. – June-August, 2008.
• Wall St. from Greta Ave. to Hawthorne Ave. – CLOSED from June 23-July 7, 2008.
(Wall St. from Greta Ave. to Country Homes will then be opened.)
• Country Homes to Hawthorne Ave. will remain CLOSED until July 14, 2008.

During these closures, travelers will need to use alternate routes. All other
road work will be accomplished with Wall Street open to traffic, but with lane restrictions in effect.

For more information, contact Spokane County Division of Engineering and Roads at (509) 477-3600, or visit the county website at

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

STA Sets Ridership Record

Numbers released yesterday show that Spokane Transit Authority broke its monthly passenger record last month.

May's ridership on the regular, fixed-route buses was 980,616. That beat the previous record, set in April, by more than 5,000 riders.

The number continues STA's upward trend. Last year, STA gave 9.4 million rides on fixed routes – a 12 percent rise from the year before. The service has experienced ridership increases every month this year compared to the same months in 2007.

GM Closes Four Plants Due To Gas Prices

General Motors Corp. yesterday closed four pickup truck and sport utility vehicle factories, cutting 10,000 jobs, but announced a new small car that could get 45 miles per gallon.

GM said the truck plant cuts, which will reduce capacity to produce pickups and large SUVs by about 35%, will save the company $1 billion per year.

GM lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter of this year and $3.4 billion in cash from January through March. Its May sales were down 28% compared with last May.

Here's the rest of the story

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Record Breaking Public Transit Use

More people are riding the nation's buses and trains, breaking records for the first quarter of the year. A report released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) shows the number of trips on public transit from January through March rose 3% to 2.6 billion rides compared with the same period last year. Travel on light rail systems saw the biggest jump: 10% to 110 million trips.

Early figures for April show ridership going even higher with gas at $4 a gallon. Still, only 5% of workers commute by public transit, according to a U.S. Census survey in 2006.

The biggest increases in rail travel occured in Oceanside, Calif., Seattle, and Harrisburg, Pa. Gainesville, Ga., and Pompano Beach, Fla., saw some of the biggest gains in bus ridership.

$4 A Gallon Gas Contributing To Stealing From The DOT?

A gallon of regular unleaded gasoline breached the $4 mark at some Spokane-area stations Sunday. That contributed to a new citywide record average price of $3.93, according to AAA.

Gas prices Monday averaged more than $4 in 12 states. Here's the story from the Spokesman-Review.

I heard on the news that in some states people are pretending to run out of gas in order to get a free gallon of gas from the Department of Transportation Incident Response Vehicles that travel the freeways looking for disabled motorists. I checked with the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center, which dispatches the Incident Response Vehicles in our area, and they said that happens occassionally, but it's still pretty rare around here.

So here's my question, would be worth your time to get one gallon of free gas?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cheney-Plaza Road Closed

The Cheney-Plaza Road is closed approximately 1 1/2 miles south of Cheney. Crews are repairing a set of bridge barriers in the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. The project could take up to six weeks to complete.

Aviation Planning Council Meeting

On June 5, members of the Governor-appointed Aviation Planning Council will meet to continue work on the final phase of the Long-Term Air Transportation Study (LATS), and you are welcome to attend.

The meeting will take place at the Ramada Spokane Airport, 8909 West Airport Drive, Spokane from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

During the meeting, the Council will discuss proposed statewide aviation policies and adopt a set of draft policies for upcoming public review. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

The Aviation Planning Council’s purpose is to use LATS Phases I and II findings, and include public input, to determine:

- How best to meet commercial and general aviation capacity needs.
- Which regions of the state are in need of improvement regarding the matching of existing, or projected, airport facilities and the long-range capacity needs at airports within the region expected to reach capacity before 2030.
- Recommendations regarding the placement of future commercial or general aviation facilities to meet the need for improved aviation planning in the region.

More information about LATS is available at:

Area Transportation Roundup

You've only got a month to either get a hands-free device or risk getting a $124 ticket if you talk on the phone and drive. Here's the roundup of area transportation happenings from the Spokesman's 'Getting There' column for the week of June 1.

Nevada Street Lane Closures

Nevada Street near its intersection with Beacon Avenue will have lane closures and obstructions from Monday, June 2 through Monday, June 9, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. each weekday. The closure is needed for water and sewer work.

Help Design Camp Sekani Trail System

You can help plan a future trail system for Spokane's Camp Sekani, or Beacon Hill, area. The Fat Tire Trail Riders Club is leading an effort to formalize a trail plan for the area off Upriver Drive, and you can take part by clicking here to take a quick survey.

Your feedback through this survey will be one piece of information that designers will use in a workshop planned for the fall. Mark your calendar for the Beacon Hill Trail Connections “Charrette” (a fancy name for a design workshop) on October 24-25, 2008. The charrette will focus on producing creative solutions for linking Beacon Hill to local schools, city bike routes, neighborhood parks, the Centennial Trail and other community treasures. It will also focus on ways to improve access and use of the trails. A Community Open House showcasing the design work will follow on Saturday evening, October 25.

About SRTC

SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.