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I live downtown and have to pay diamond 114$ a month. Unfortunately, I have no other option, except for getting a lot of tickets. My question is: When is the city going to issue monthly/yearly street parking passes for people that live downtown? I have seen this in other cities. The passes are usually good withing a specific radius of the block you live in. Aren't we supposed to be encouraging people to live downtown?


This is yet another reminder of how much I love bike commuting.

The craigslist poster might reassess how much he "needs" his car during the day--and the rest of you, too. Yes, some professions entail a lot of running around during the day. But if you're really just moving your car from one space to another, do you NEED need it?

And if you're in one of the "runaround" professions, would your workplace consider having a couple of company cars that are available to be checked out, once you bus or bike to work? I understand that's what ALSC Architects does to encourage use of alternate transportation.

Last night's 2-4 inches of snow may have put an end to my bike commuting for the season (kinda prefer to be inside a metal box of my own, when one slides into me). But I've been bike commuting since March, approaching 100% of the days from May through November. I love pedaling past the "regular $3.29/gallon" signs. My plan now is to ride past those same signs in a nice warm bus.


let's get started on public transportation in Spokane...

John Speare

It's always frustrating to me to witness the sense of entitlement that folks in our society have around cars and parking. Newsflash: you bought a car; it takes up space; space cost money; space downtown cost more money. Making the choice to drive a hugely inefficient single occupant internal combustion machine -- in the world we now live in -- is something you SHOULD pay gobs of money to support/park/drive.


If I worked downtown, I would take the bus. I think maybe some of these people that don't use it live in the Valley or the Suburbs? Maybe it's time to think about relocating back to the city and actually support the core regional city? It will be the trend with oil prices going up, it will be a reversal of going back to the 1930's when people actually used public tranportation. I agree with Rachel, lets get light rail in all parts of the urban area started!


This parking victim likes to complain beforehand. Come January, he likely won't cry out, "I'm knowingly overpaying for parking!"

When he pays that amount he'll know either he couldn't find a cheaper option or was too lazy to look. And that's something his friends won't pity him for.

For anyone who hates being overcharged, can you think of anything you've ever knowingly paid way too much for? And does that say something about the merchant or about you? Let me guess, you had no other choice!

If you're in the middle of nowhere, out of gas, and someone's selling it for $50/gal you still have a choice. In fact you had a choice before you starting driving into the middle of nowhere while low on gas.

It's partially this entitlement mentality (well said John S) and partially the idea they have no other options based on outside forces. They were forced into it. Maybe by society?

"What do you expect me to do? Take the bus?!"

I don't take the bus but at least I don't complain about it. And better yet I don't delude myself into thinking I'm helpless.

And personally,(in re: to leio) no, I don't want to encourage anyone to live downtown nor give them a free parking spot.

Mariah McKay

"Family Owned"? Gag me! Joe Diamond is a filthy rich old Seattlite who doesn't give a crap about Spokane other than to profit from our working class and over dependence on automobiles. I don't like Diamond Parking anymore than the next person, but I agree with the above: it's time to escape your car and boycott Diamond extortion!

If you live way out in the burbs and don't find this feasible, organize a carpool with your neighbors. This morning I was officially priced out of my single person auto mode of transit for the rest of the winter. So I'll be seeing you all on the bus!


I agree with Todd above. I'm all for people driving whatever they want, wherever they want as long as they pay for it. It is a luxury and not an entitlement. Part of the problem with public transportation in Spokane is that people still live relatively close to work (I drive 5 miles to work from 5-mile to downtown). Riding the bus takes an extra hour out of my day and is fairly unrealistic when you factor in children and school/childcare centers. Basically, although people will argue "if we built, it they will use it" the lightrail system is towards the bottom of a long list of regional projects that need to be undertaken - Wastewater treatment, updated justice system, infrastruture improvements, etc. It is a misjudgement to say that we need lightrail in preparation for when Spokane gets to be the size of Seattle.



Sorry, I need to clarify my statement. Other cities give you the option to pay for a monthly street parking pass for your area.


haha! i love this story!


Re: michael

While I agree with your stance on the "priority" of light rail, I think it is important for a city like Spokane to invest or take interest in Light Rail and keep it in focus. Don't be like Seattle at it's late stages or the city of Phoenix where I live where we are just putting up the finishing touches on our first line. Now I realize Spokane is no ""metro area like the two cities mentioned, however excuses/priority will always appear placing it on the back burner of endless "what if's" in the Lilac City. Obviously a N/S Freeway will help a horrible flow of constant cross pattern traffic around some of the nation's worst maintained/damaged streets, but relative to cities equal to Spokane's size like Tacoma/Albuquerque who have light rail, I think it is a forward justified system that can be used/experimented with in stretches to familiarize and be expanded for further growth that will infact appear.


Thanks for the comments - good discussion. I still fall back on the belief that Spokane is not the sort of place for light rail though. I haven't really heard what the real purpose would be - to serve as mass transit? To bring people to the downtown core? To spur economic development? Believe me, I'm not a person who promotes the typical "we can't do that in Spokane" attitude, but I think it simply would not be used. In THEORY it's a great idea, and it has seemed successful other places with a need for it. That just doesn't convince me to want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars based on our particular need or potential return. For starters, we have a decent transit system now that isn't largly used. How many sparkling new (and empty) buses do we see everyday, not to mention the problems created by having the hub right in the heart of downtown? Mass transit just doesn't seem to do what we want it to do in Spokane. But I'm open to further convincing....


Sorry to get off track...this is about parking....


... this talk of the lightrail and the North/South Freeway made me wonder... Does the city have any list online of things that are currently underway for the city.

Honestly I'd forgotten about the NS freeway. It would be nice if the city (or even on this site) had a resource for the current state of these major activities that are planned / underway / halted / in limbo / or cancelled in the city.

Someone get on that!

Bryan B


It would be more obvious if you were on the far-north side of town. Out near Mead there are lots and lots of earthmovers...moving earth.


Mead? Isn't that near Canada? ;)


Great discussion. Some misconceptions, though.

Rachel repeats the myth of the "inefficiency" of the automobile. In fact, the auto is the most efficient means of personal transportation available - that's why people prefer them.

"Efficiency" is defined as attaining a given goal with the least investment of resources. But you have to pay attention to actual goals people have, not the standardized goals of transportation planners. For the latter, travel is an issue of moving bodies between two arbitrarily defined points. For real people, however, the points vary from person to person. Nor does merely traveling between two points completely state each individual's goal, which may include varying stops mid-point, variable side trips, variations in departure and arrival time, peace and quiet while traveling, personal privacy, comfort, etc.

In other words, the goals of travelers are individualized and variable - they are not standard. Only the automobile offers the flexibility to satisfy those actual goals. "Efficiency" obtained by replacing travelers' actual goals with a standardized planner's goal is a false efficiency.

People moved from mass transit systems of the 20s and 30s for a reason - namely, that the personal automobile far better met their needs. It still does. No form of mass transit can equal its advantages, which is only 2% of American commuters use public transit, and why all such systems must be heavily subsidized. They are relics of the past; trying to resurrect them is merely misplaced nostalgia.

On the other hand, parking is certainly among the costs of auto use. It should be market priced and factored into the overall costs of auto travel. For some persons that cost may tip the balance - they may decide that public transit is more efficient for them. So be it. We certainly should not be subsidizing parking, any more than we should be subsidizing mass transit systems.

Mass transit is an archaic technology whose time has come and gone. Good riddance.


So be it.

- actual traveler, however, it matter of actual goals peo


Oops, that "efficiency" comment was apparently made by John, not Rachel. Sorry, Rachel.


"Efficiency" is defined as attaining a given goal with the least investment of resources."

So using your definition, a car is the worst example of this if you include (1)the resources/energy consumed to manufacture and ship it to the car lot or (2) the cost over the lifetime to maintain, operate, and insure it.

"...which is (why) only 2% of American commuters use public transit, and why all such systems must be heavily subsidized."

C'mon now, if you're going to bring up subsidies then you certainly have to mention the billions of Federal, state, and local subsidies spent on highways, interstates, and local road construction and maintenance.


If the North/South freeway is 20 years away from completion (as a certain Spokesman article said yesterday), then how long would it take to build a light rail system that has been voted down a couple times now and has no funding?


"So using your definition, a car is the worst example of this if you include (1)the resources/energy consumed to manufacture and ship it to the car lot or (2) the cost over the lifetime to maintain, operate, and insure it."

I'm afraid you are still assuming the planner's standardized goal. All the costs you mention are real enough - but they are the *lowest costs possible to meet the traveler's actual goals*. Mass transit may have lower per mile costs, but that is irrelevant - covering a certain distance is only part of the traveler's goal. You gain your apparent efficiency simply by ignoring the rest of the goal, which includes traveling at desired times (not on the transit operator's schedule), traveling a desired route (not a route designated by the transit operator), stopping and detouring at will as needed on any trip, etc. Not to mention making the desired trip in the shortest time. If the traveler must make additional trips to pick up the kids, drop off the dry cleaning, stop to visit Mom for a few mintues, must endure annoying fellow passengers during the trip, and must devote an extra hour per day to travel, then mass transit becomes very inefficient. It is not serving the traveler's *actual goal* for the trip. It is the false efficiency I mentioned.

As for subsidies, roads and highways are (by and large) not subsidized. They are paid for by fuel taxes and license fees - i.e., by the users of the system, as they should be. They in turn subsidize transit systems.

There is a fair amount of federal pork involved in local road projects these days, of course. But there is pork in everything. You won't get rid of that until you get ride of Congresscritters.

IceKeeg - Beaverton OR

Contrarian - I don't have figures so this is my impression only. But it seems that the relatively poor state of existing road infrastructure nationwide reflects that we are not yet paying the true cost of simply maintaining the system we have. If those actual costs were factored into a higher gas tax then we would be closer to seeing the true cost of automobile use. I may well be off-base here, but it is the impression that I get.


Icekeeg -

The conditions of intra- an interstate roads and highways are quite good, in my experience. What standard are you applying?

It varies from state to state, of course, and even more so for city streets from city to city. But certainly the roads in both OR and WA are just fine (I drive in both states a lot). Idaho's are not quite so good.

You are right in principle, though, that drivers should pay whatever is required to maintain the level of quality desired. Public transit users should also pay their own way. If they did, use would fall to zero.

Mass-transit systems are not market-clearing. Not even close. For most Amtrak routes you could buy every passenger a first-class airline ticket and actually save money.

All existing methods of mass transit, except for air travel, are anachronisms in the 21st century. They are archaic, and persist only because they draw pork to localities and provide makework for bureaucrats.


Contrarian -

You make some very good points. However, I don't think that mass transit is an anachronism. In certain cases I believe it is a social responsibility, because it provides the poor/low income with affordable ways to get to work, and generally get around at a low cost. I also believe that the the costs of mass transit (while subsidized) are much lower in comparison when you add in the environmental costs that are not factored in to the price at the pump. Additionally, In large / densely populated cities, mass transit is VERY convenient. Looks at the Congestion on the street in NYC, or London where the subway is a very effective mass transit system. As for light rail in Spokane, maybe it isn't a cost effective solution, but I think we owe it to ourselves to at least pay for studies that would allow us to make a more informed decision!


Please excuse all the spelling and grammar mistakes =).


Leio --

You're right that transit does work in compact, very densely populated areas like New York and London. The subway in Toronto is always packed also. Those systems are close to self-supporting. But not in in most places.

As for providing for low-income travelers, there are cheaper ways to do it.

You have to be careful with studies contracted for by municipalities. The consultants know what the bureaucrats wanna hear, so they tend to paint rosy pictures. Check this one:


Be sure to get that URL all onto 1 line.


And there it is. Listen, we can go back and forth on this forever. You can cite the Cato institute, we can pull up this report (http://www.cnu.org/node/1533) and numerous others that have actually been peer-reviewed and that debunk a lot of OToole's findings.

The deal is this: congestion is the price we pay for our standard of living and a strong economy. As Anthony Downs puts it, no metropolitan area has, "enough infrastructure to transport everyone who wants to move during peak hours simultaneously; nor do they have enough resources to build it."

To approach any transportation problem as you do Contrarian with a single solution is doomed to fail. Our approach needs to be multifaceted and that includes a healthy dose of transit, biking, walking, tolls, and carpools. Throw in some telecommuting options as well as raising the cost of auto ownership (see current gas prices) to help balance out the demand side as well. You despise transit. Fine. When it all boils down you'll see that nothing is a silver bullet; this includes transit and new roads.

Our best chance to effectively reduce congestion is through a blend of both market and regulatory strategies.


Metro --

I'm not necessarily advocating a single solution. I'd advocate any system that is market-clearing (which generates enough users to pay its costs). If subways or streetcars could satisfy that test, then by all means build them. But if subsidies are required then that system is by definition a loser in that market.


It's a great objective, but as you pointed out there are too many variables. There will always be losers and dollars reallocated to subsidize those with shorfalls. Hence the west side subsidizing east side projects. Great dialog, Contrarian. Thanks for contributing.


The whole efficiency issue...
I like the idea that there are many other factors that influence why people drive vs take the bus whether or not it's the 'most efficient' way to get from A to B.

* Some don't know how the bus system works, where to get on, transfer, the costs, schedules... I myself am too lazy to figure this out.

* Some see the bus as below them (societally).

* Most people wouldn't have any idea of the true cost of ownership of their car much less how to compare that to taking the bus.

* Being 'green' is becoming more 'fashionable'. In the future, buying a car may be seen as irresponsible as littering. My point being that personal cars may one day be publicly looked down upon. - just like we now look at Hummer drivers :)

Freedom and Choice
I love that we have the freedom to drive a car if we choose. A car gives you freedom. Freedom to go where you want, when you want. You have choices, opportunities to go and do what you wish.

If you don't own a car, a transit system can offer you some of those same opportunities but just not necessarily on your exact schedule.

I think we need to decide if we're trying to discuss and therefore fix transit/parking issues in Spokane or if we're just speaking in generalities. It's very easy to get off point by acting as if we have some sort of massive parking/congestion problem here. My opinion: We don't.

Not to say we can't fix it a bit.

Good conversation. :)

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