News Roundup 6/2/2014Posted: June 2, 2014
Transit Supervisor Rod Thornton Retiring
After 30 years at the helm, Rob Thornton is finally retiring from Pullman Transit. Thornton started working for the agency 35 years ago, when Pullman Transit was first established, as a bus operator but quickly moved up the ranks into management. In talking with the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Thornton was humble and refused to take credit for any of the agency’s successes, though other staff were more than happy to give him his due credit. Though a small agency with just 19 buses operating on a $3.8 million budget, the agency has the highest farebox recovery in all of Washington (largely due to WSU students who ride) and is among the most efficient in the country. Replacing Thornton will be Michael Wagner, who has previously spent 8 years working at Pullman Transit. More recently, he was the operations supervisor at RiverCities Transit (Longview/Kelso WA), and also spent two years as a supervisor at Grant Transit Authority in Moses Lake.
Spokane Transit Authority
The Plaza To Be Renovated For $4.7 Million
A project that has been in the planning for a few years now is finally happening. The Board of Directors has approved the expenditure of $4.7 million to renovate The Plaza, which will bring significant changes to the building inside and out. Included in the plans are 4 new retail outlets located on the west end of the 1st floor, along with the relocation of the Customer Service office and public restrooms to the 1st floor. A fifth retail outlet would be placed in the rotunda at the NE corner of the 1st floor, with the option for exterior cafe-style seating. The waterfall between the escalators, perhaps among the best known features of The Plaza, would be removed (though the cougars would be retained and placed in a new location). A new passenger waiting area would be placed just west of the Sprague Ave doors to give riders the option to watch for their bus while remaining inside, something that has never been possible with the lack of windows on that side of The Plaza (largely due to the parking ramp). Security and other STA offices would be moved up to the 2nd floor, along with a designated meeting space taking over the spaces where the current retail outlets are. The rotunda on the 2nd floor would become an exhibit space, though a potential tenant has not been found yet (though STA has been in talks with the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture).
Transit Manager Ken Mehin Resigns
After spending twelve years in the position, transit manager Ken Mehin has resigned from his job to become the new General Manager for Grays Harbor Transit. In the meantime, Yakima Public Works Director Scott Schafer has appointed City Irrigation Supervisor Alvie Maxey, who has no transit experience in 25 years with the city, as acting transit manager. Schafer has indicated that the next few months will be used to determine if Maxey will take the position permanently, or if they will seek new applicants. Some reports indicate that Mehin’s resignation was a bit of a surprise to the Public Works department, though others suggest that Mehin informed his superiors of his intentions as early as last year.