Followup from 2011: City gets funding for “City Line” bus service

The six mile route will be an electric bus that runs a fixed six mile route from west edge of downtown to Spokane Community College. Based on bus technology, this makes more sense than the far more expensive and inflexible light rail that was sought a decade ago (even two decades ago!)

Being Spokane, this $92 million investment is a bit of a subsidy to land owners in this corridor and especially in downtown. Spokane’s history is long associated with pouring money into downtown to benefit the central core’s landowners/businesses.

I just rode one of these fixed bus route lines in another city 2 days ago. The goal in that city was to create economic activity in the fading downtown and corridors leading into downtown. Drawbacks include that since it runs down the center of parts of the route, the city had to eliminate over 100 left turns for motorists, harming access to many small businesses. Construction of the system was plagued by failure to adhere to ADA requirements and significant quality issues with the electric battery powered buses purchased to run the system (they did not achieve the required range, and many had such serious defects they had to be sent back to the factory).

While convenient to use, it was not yet seeing a lot of passengers but we did enjoy using it ourselves. I can see the value of this fixed bus route concept – but with multiple goals – economic revitalization of dead zones, unproven battery powered buses, uncertain real world demand and both positive and negative impacts on local businesses – time will only tell if it is a benefit or boondoggle. We noticed that its an “honor system”. You buy your fare at a kiosk and board – no ever checks if you paid. Systems like this in some areas have become what some call “mobile homeless shelters”.

Let’s hope this works out well for Spokane. Again, this final design makes much more sense than the expensive light rail concepts of the recent past.

Spokane Better Business Bureau office shuts down

Based on personal experience with a consumer complaint, the BBB was a scam. They closed the complaint, falsely saying the complainant’s issue was resolved, without ever contacting the complainant. The complaint was pursued elsewhere and led not only to an insurance settlement but to changes in state regulations. The BBB (this was not the Spokane office) not only dropped the ball, they lied about it. And gave the offending business an “A” rating.

Based on experience with a small business, the BBB seemed primarily interested in shaking down businesses into becoming members and sending them money.  Presumably to get a better business rating. Others have said the BBB is a scam and does just that as those news reports from 2010 discussed. Our experience was before that date.

Better Business Bureau closes Spokane office

Spokane Mayor pitches Spokane as great alternative to Seattle for businesses and jobs

This is good – and it is a clear, effective message – Seattle is a bit of mess in terms of horrible traffic and exorbitant housing costs. Even better, its getting press coverage in Seattle 🙂 Spokane mayor seeking to lure jobs and residents to city

Updated – A Seattle Times columnist, however, strikes back and discusses the crime problem, low wages and insufficient research university presence to land high tech companies.

It’s 2018 and it’s still business as usual in Spokane

Despite an overwhelming verdict, the Spokane Public Schools board should ignore the results of Tuesday’s advisory vote on the location of a new football stadium and build it downtown anyway.


The stadium needs to go downtown. Period. We shouldn’t let a misinformed advisory vote impact a project that would positively affect the city and benefit the youth sporting community for the next 30 years.

Source: Dave Nichols: Board should ignore advisory vote, build stadium downtown | The Spokesman-Review

Democracy sucks, doesn’t it? If you don’t get what you want, then the voters are obviously stupid so the elite should just over rule those stupid peons.

Big downtown landowners deserve subsidy programs and every one knows they are so much smarter than you! The newspaper publisher is the largest landholder downtown but … oh never mind that!

Nothing has changed in Spokane. It’s still the same old powerful elite pulling the strings. This one is just so obvious and embarrassing.

Rachel Dolezal (Nkechi Diallo) back in the news

Many are searching for information about the unusual history of Rachel Dolezal who is back in the news again. You can find historical posts here.



Great news – EWU Expansion to U-District

Eastern Washington University plans to move three degree programs and around 1,000 students from its Cheney campus to a building along East Sprague Avenue.

Source: EWU plans major expansion into Spokane’s University District as anchor tenant of Avista’s planned 150,000-square-foot Catalyst building | The Spokesman-Review

EWU’s computer science and electrical engineering programs are likely to make the move. This is great news for Spokane, together with the previous opening of the WSU Elson S Floyd College of Medicine.

The blog is not coming back to life but this is important. May also update some charts for 2018.

Spokane Airport and PFD Chart Updates

I was asked to update some charts (this blog is not coming back to life but I may update some additional charts too).

Spokane International Airport and Felts Field Usage Trends


Passenger usage has been a flat line for 30 years. When passenger counts went up from 2003 to 2007, the Airport and local officials said passenger counts were a proxy for the local economy. A larger post on airport trends through 2014, including links to data sources, is here.

The next chart measures take offs and landings at Felts Field.


Data: US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, FAA

Spokane PFD Facilities Trend

image-9Data: Spokane PFD and Community Indicators of Spokane.

Since the economic depression in Spokane, the PFD’s attendance has rebounded but remains below the 2010, 2007 and 2001 peaks. A regression line drawn from 2001 to the present is a slight downwards trend.

Through 2015 end of year:


Reminder: The PFD conducted local economic impact studies for 2007 and 2010 and claimed these two years were representative of every year. 2007 and 2010 are represented by the two large spikes in the orange curve above; history shows they were not representative of the PFD’s normal impact on the Spokane economy.

How Many Events at the Spokane Arena Required the 2012 Seat Expansion?

In 2012, the Spokane PFD went to voters with a campaign to expand the Spokane Arena, saying the NCAA would require 12,000 “sellable” seats to hold future NCAA events at the Arena. The then 12,000 seat arena did not have enough seats to have 12,000 “sellable” seats (many seats are used by media, bands, cheer teams and others and were not “sellable”). The expansion led to a total of 12,638 potential seats in it largest seating configuration.

After the election was held, the NCAA reset the seating requirement  down to 10,000 “sellable” seats. The PFD kept this quiet and local media hid this change for months. See NCAA reduces seating requirements; Spokane PFD’s Arena expansion no longer required.

But at least the Arena would have more seats to fill at other events, they said.

How many events in 2015 filled the new seating capacity?


Source: 2015 Year End Report, page 52 (published by the Spokane PFD).


In 2014, a state high school basketball tournament exceeded 13,000 attendance, but this is not individual game attendance for two reasons:

  1. The maximum seating capacity for the Arena, when configured for basketball, is 12,210. The maximum seating for any configuration is 12,638.
  2. They combined attendance of multiple games played on the same day at the Arena (which is how the PFD typically presents attendance figures). Old event schedules indicate there were 3 to 8 games played each day of the tournaments. Thus, the Arena did not reach the new full capacity.

Related old posts: