An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

CityLine, zero emissions rapid bus transit, launches in Spokane

A zero emissions CityLine bus at the formal launch of the new rapid transit line on July 18,2023.
Rebecca White/SPR
A zero emissions CityLine bus at the formal launch of the new rapid transit line on July 18,2023.

Tuesday, state and local leaders celebrated the launch of the CityLine, Eastern Washington’s first zero-emissions rapid transit project.

The CityLine, a streetcar-like bus route, will run through some of Spokane’s business and education centers. The project was funded through a combination of state, local and federal funds.

The project, completed Saturday, was finished $10 to $14 million dollars under budget, an achievement that won praise from Deputy Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, Veronica Vanterpool.

"We like to invest in success in the federal government, and this is a successful project,” she said. “Projections estimate by 2035 the CityLine will take Spokane residents on close to 1.2 million trips a year."

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said projects like the CityLine are needed to address the growing crisis of climate change.

“The world is looking to Washington for solutions, the world is looking to Spokane, and by gum, we're providing both,” he said.

Spokane transit officials say that during CityLine’s first few hours of operation Saturday, more than 3,000 people came out to ride the new route.

Spokane Senator Andy Billig, who is also the state senate majority leader, said the CityLine is one of three packages approved in the 2015 Connecting Washington Transportation package. He said its also an essential piece to further transit expansion in the region.

“I look forward to the millions of trips to come on the CityLine, and I look forward to it being the launching pad for the next project, which will be equally transformative,” he said.

City Line serves an east-west corridor. Funds have already been secured to launch a second rapid bus transit project, Division Connects, which will run north to south. Spokane County Commissioner Al French, who is the longest serving member of the Spokane Transit Board, says leaders have discussed using the budget savings from CityLine on that project.

The CityLine, which runs every 15 minutes, is free until Labor Day. Transit officials say in the future, bus routes will hopefully be event faster, running every seven and a half minutes.

Public Transit is free across the state of Washington to everyone under the age of 18.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.