By Libby Campbell, senior reporter
To help offset increased ridership from Spokane to EWU, Spokane Transit Authority has added four new buses to its morning commute lineup.
The new buses leave from the plaza in downtown Spokane at 6:57, 7:57, 8:57 and 9:12 a.m.
Eastern is known as a commuter school. During the week, as many as 4,500 people commute by bus from Spokane to EWU. This number has increased 30 percent since 2010, according to an EWU news statement.
“Buses were added to provide more capacity and help address increased demand for service,” said Molly Myers, communications manager of STA. “The purpose was to spread the demand more evenly between trips.”
Commuters may experience crowded buses at certain times of the day.
Katarina Guerrero commutes almost every day to Spokane. “Going to Spokane, it’s not really crowded, but coming back from Spokane, it’s always crowded in the morning.”
Student Renee Schmidt said she does not ride as frequently, but added, “I normally ride in the mornings. If you catch, like, a 10 [a.m.] bus, it gets pretty crowded.”
Boardings have increased 43 percent over the past eight years, with STA logging 11 million rides last year.
“Route 66 ridership was up more than 18 percent during fourth quarter 2012 compared to fourth quarter 2011,” Myers said.
Amber Teichroeb, who commutes every day from Cheney to Spokane, said, “I think there’s certain hours that are peak times. For classes, it can get crowded, and then certain hours at the end of the day, like 4 or 5 [p.m.] seem to be really crowded to get back.”
Teichroeb said she thought the addition of four buses to the morning 66 route would probably help ease rider congestion.
“I think that’s really great. I go from Cheney to Spokane, so I don’t think the problem is as bad for me. But I see the buses getting off in the morning, and they’re just crammed. So hopefully this will be helpful.”
The added buses began operating Jan. 22.
“To date, the riders seemed to have integrated the minimal changes into their routine,” Myers said.