Maricopa County planners improve transportation options
for Phoenix, AZ, residents
That's exactly what's happening in the greater Phoenix region as Valley Metro continues to extend its wildly popular light rail network and increase bus and parking access to light rail service.
Today it can cost upwards of $50 to fill up your tank, so we need more and better transit options to help us save money for life’s priorities instead of putting it into the gas tank.
FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff rides light rail with US Representative Ed Pastor of Arizona's 4th District
During his visit to Maricopa County yesterday, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff rode light rail to Tempe and Mesa with Congressman Ed Pastor and met with Mayors Phil Gordon of Phoenix, Hugh Hallman of Tempe, and Scott Smith of Mesa.
He also saw first-hand how planned transit projects throughout the Phoenix area will improve connections between the region's roadways, the Central Mesa Light Rail corridor, and the major activity centers of downtown Phoenix, downtown Tempe, Arizona State University, and Sky Harbor International Airport.
These are the places area residents, business travelers, and tourists need to go, and the region's transit planners are working hard to get them there safely. For example, during events at the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix, event tickets also serve as transit passes--when you buy your ticket, you've already bought your ride.
This new line is in addition to the existing Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail project, which opened in 2008. The FTA provided $587 million for the existing project and its extensions--including $36 million from the Recovery Act--and that investment is estimated to have spurred more than $5 billion in economic development along the corridor. Ridership continues to exceed expectations.
Continuing to invest wisely in Maricopa County transit facilities will ensure that Arizonans and their children have good transportation options for generations to come.
This is what our FTA is all about--connecting people to jobs, schools, downtown areas, and the essential services they need like medical care and groceries. And as gas prices continue to batter our wallets in these already challenging economic times, giving people car-free options to get where they need to go only becomes more important.
President Obama said that for America to compete and win in the 21st century, we have to out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world. The people of Phoenix, Maricopa County, and Arizona are doing both.
Phoenix: In 1998, Valley Metro projected that it could build a 13-mile light-rail line for$509 million (in 2009 dollars). By the time the line opened the last days of 2008, the costhad ballooned to $1.5 billion for 20 miles— an 88 percent increase in per-mile costs.Considering that transit carries only 0.6 percent of travel in this auto-oriented region,this line is not likely to do much for the region’s transportation system.
And here is a quote from a rebuttal of a 2007 Cato report on Portland and a summary of a newer report. Debunking Randal O'Toole's Attack on Portland: CNU Study Rebuts Anti-Rail/Anti-Planning Hokum
In their recently revved-up insurgency against public transportation, critics of light rail transit (LRT) seem to be making a particular point of selecting for attack some of the most successful LRT operations in the USA. In practice, this means attacking also the urban policies, economic performance, and other characteristics of the cities these rail systems serve.
Of these, Portland, Oregon – which serves as a national model of excellence and success in both urban planning and public transportation (see Portland Light Rail and Public Transport Developments) – has become a primary target of the ongoing jihad against Smart Growth, urban transit, and especially the "dreaded" rail transit.
The latest effort to nuke Portland's reputation as a paradigm of effective planning and superb urban transit comes from national anti-transit, anti-planning, pro-sprawl activist Randal O'Toole in a tract sponsored by the extremist rightwing Cato institute propaganda mill.
"Portland, Oregon, long touted as the paradigm of modern urban planning, is awash in corruption, government waste and public discontent" claims a Cato news release (PRNewswire-USNewswire, 9 July 2007), summarizing the central theme of O'Toole's diatribe, a 20-plus-page "policy analysis" titled "Debunking Portland: The City That Doesn't Work". "O'Toole catalogues Portland's failures in city planning and offers suggestions to other cities on how not to repeat its mistakes" continues the Cato release, which cites O'Toole – who happens to be based in Oregon – as a "Cato institute senior fellow".
Portland, Oregon: Heavy investments in rail transit and draconian land-use policieshave made Portland one of the few cities that can honestly say rail transit increased percapita transit ridership. To promote compact development and reduce per capita driving,most of Oregon is zoned so strictly that people are not allowed to build homes on theirown land unless they own at least 80 acres and earn at least $40,000 to $80,000 (depending on soil productivity) per year farming it.107 Inside the growth boundaries, Portland and other cities have rezoned dozens of neighborhoods for high-density development. In many cases, zoning was so strict that, if someone’s single-family home burned down, they would be required to replace it with multifamily housing.108Although this resulted in rapidly rising land prices, developers failed to build transitoriented developments along Portland’s rail lines. So Portland began offering a variety of subsidies, most of them paid for through tax increment financing. To date, Portland has spent nearly $3 billion building light-rail lines and nearly $2 billion subsidizing developments along the light rail and Portland’s streetcar. The results have been mixed. While transit ridership has increased since 1990, rail transit still carries less than 1 percent of the region’s passenger travel. Moreover, transit’s share of commuting declined between 2000 and 2007. In fact, Census Bureau data indicate that the absolute number of transit commuters shrank from about 58,000 in 2000 to 57,000 in 2007 while the number of auto commuters grew by about 66,000.109Surveys of one of the Portland area’s largest transit-oriented developments reveal that residents use transit a little more than people in other neighborhoods—but not for ommuting.110 Many transit-oriented developments have struggled, and research by the Cascade Policy Institute’s John Charles has shown that the key to success is plenty of parking; those with inadequate parking tend to have high vacancy rates.111 In a very real sense, then, successful developments are not even transit oriented.
US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood poses questions for Rick Scott. High-speed rail is a cheap alternative to widening interstates, if not that, then what? http://bit.ly/gheHSe