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  #21  
Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 5:56 PM
Vicelord John Vicelord John is offline
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if there were a train to LA, maybe I wouldn't hate the stinky ass crowded place so much.
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  #22  
Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 6:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soleri View Post
The lack of AMTRAK service drives me insane. There's a lot of reasons to explain this, but the bottom line is that there wasn't sufficient popular support to keep it going. If you had citizens writing their legislators (state and federal), and if you had enough visionaries in elected office, there would be train service and it could possibly integrated with local mass transit as Denver is doing.

I don't mean to start an argument here because no minds get changed in this forum. Still, this is where free-market ideology results in bad choices. The American right hates trains and seldom misses an opportunity to cut AMTRAK subsidies or ridicule the idea of trains. Instead we build freeways, which result in more sprawl, which results in more freeways, ad infinitum.

Rail is one way out of this madness. It can create density corridors, provide additional travel options, and increase tourism. Actual rail service to downtown Phoenix would be an incalculable boon in creating a regional center. Imagine the rail line running directly north of Sky Harbor being part of a passenger rail network. Or bullet trains to Tucson, the coast, or up the congested 1-17 corridor.

With our transportation options being reduced to flying and driving, we have a Hobson's choice of competing miseries. Driving to LA, e.g., gets hellish once you approach San Bernadino. Flying is like a case of slow strangulation where security necessity and crowded skies make the experience increasingly grim.

This forum is fairly small and inconsequential. But on one level, we're "navigators" of popular opinion because we actually think about transportation and urban issues. Without starting an argument, I wonder if we can actually see ourselves as a vanguard of informed urbanists.
As someone who actually used to use the Amtrak station in Phoenix I can tell you that it was incredibly frustrating to see service pulled in the late 90's. Phoenix is probably the largest city in the world without passenger rail of any kind. Even Detroit still has an Amtrak station (though Toledo's is much better connected).

IIRC, in the last year of service Phoenix Union Station served all of 8,000 passengers. Not exactly hopping. Tempe (which was Amtrak's other stop in the Valley over behind Macayo's) served 9,000.

Part of the reason I think the lite rail will fail is that it is billed as a traffic reliever at a regional level. Unfortunately lite rail doesn't really work that way (much better at a smaller scale). The ROW's exist for commuter heavy rail to exist in EVERY city in the Valley (with the notable exception of Scottsdale). Why that wasn't pursued as a true regional alternative is beyond me. If it did exist, you could build a true multi-modal station in DT Phoenix. Instead Phoenix will remain cut off from the remainder of the world via rail, but they will have their cute little train that runs down Central (I did say earlier that I think ASUDT is the key to the lite rail's ultimate success and I do honestly believe this).
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  #23  
Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 7:36 PM
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Amtrak's departure had more to do with Union Pacific's closing of the Phoenix West line that connects Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station to Wellton in Yuma County. While UP is double tracking the mainline that runs from Maricopa to Tucson, Phoenix service is desperately needed.

Then again, taking the train to LA for example isn't entirely out of the question ... $100 - $120 each way from Maricopa, and that's with two days notice. It's competitive with airfare, and compared with LA traffic the 8 hour ride doesn't seem nearly so bad.
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  #24  
Old Posted Dec 13, 2006, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by combusean View Post
Amtrak's departure had more to do with Union Pacific's closing of the Phoenix West line that connects Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station to Wellton in Yuma County. While UP is double tracking the mainline that runs from Maricopa to Tucson, Phoenix service is desperately needed.

Then again, taking the train to LA for example isn't entirely out of the question ... $100 - $120 each way from Maricopa, and that's with two days notice. It's competitive with airfare, and compared with LA traffic the 8 hour ride doesn't seem nearly so bad.
My memory is a little vague here, but as I recall, UP wanted a subsidy from the legislature to maintain the tracks and when they didn't get it, shut it down to passenger rail. This is something states have to contend with providers like UP. It can seem like blackmail to the squeamish but is really part of doing business in America.

At any rate, our legislature is penny-wise about things like rail (but not so much when it comes to boondoggles like alt-fuels). This is why it would really help to have a little more political consciousness among the few of us keen on cities. Yes, we're already outnumbered, but aside from that we're not even in the game.
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  #25  
Old Posted Dec 14, 2006, 1:46 AM
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Soleri, the free market doesn't work because government doesn't subsides something enough? That line of reasoning doesn't seem to make any sense. If what you mean is "the current American mixed economic system doesn't work in this situation," I'd agree. But there is certainly nothing "free market" about the transportation industry.
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  #26  
Old Posted Dec 14, 2006, 5:51 AM
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Originally Posted by HooverDam View Post
Soleri, the free market doesn't work because government doesn't subsides something enough? That line of reasoning doesn't seem to make any sense. If what you mean is "the current American mixed economic system doesn't work in this situation," I'd agree. But there is certainly nothing "free market" about the transportation industry.
It's not the economic system which is to blame for AMTRAK leaving Phoenix. It's the political system, or more precisely, people like you and me. If rail service were more highly valued, then we would have found a way to keep it. We do this all the time with various economic activities (it's why the Cardinals play in Glendale and not in LA, or why Sumitomo opened a factory in Phoenix and not Austin, or why the city is building a 1000 room hotel downtown).

The American right (with a few notable exceptions like Paul Weyrich) has a deep disdain for passenger rail. I think this due to the idea that density creates a greater demand for government and that one way of finessing growth in the public sector is extreme decentralization. Regardless, the choice Arizona made reflected a constellation of values you could call anti-urban: freeways, far-flung housing pods, autocentric development, etc. Urbanists have a very small voice in this state, but we ought, at a minimum, speak more forcefully about those things which do concern us. Rail service is one of those things.
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  #27  
Old Posted Dec 15, 2006, 10:25 AM
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SkyValue starts flights to Gary out of Gateway
Art Thomason
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 15, 2006

The fourth carrier in Williams Gateway Airport's expanding wing of passenger airlines lifts off for the Chicago area today.

Amid a water-cannon salute by firefighters and salutations by airline executives and Mesa Mayor Keno Hawker, SkyValue Flight 512 is scheduled to depart at 10:30 a.m. for Gary, Ind., which is 25 miles from downtown Chicago.

"We're trying to make sure that we take every step to make this investment pay off for everyone," said Charles Brinton, executive director of the Mesa Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The organization is partnering with SkyValue to provide promotion and marketing through more than 100 travel agents.

Brinton said he expects the growth of niche airlines that serve regional airports and relievers to continue as Williams carves its way into the scheduled passenger service market.

It started in April when Vision Airlines initiated scheduled passenger service at Williams to North Las Vegas.

On Jan. 19, Western airlines will begin charter flights between Williams and Bellingham, Wash., four days a week, and Allegiant Air offers occasional charters to Reno and Laughlin, Nev.

Vision said Wednesday that it is cutting the number of its flights until Feb. 1 because of slow business. It will drop Monday and Thursday service, said Warren Kaplan, Vision's manager of business development.

However, Vision will have Monday and Thursday flights on Dec. 28 and Jan. 1, because of demand leading up to the New Year holiday weekend.

As for SkyValue, "the Mesa airport and Gary/Chicago International Airport are two good fits," said Gabrielle Griswold, executive vice president of the charter.

Both airports are vigorously pursuing airlines to establish an international identity, enhance revenue and promote economic development, she said.

A SkyValue Boeing 737-800 is scheduled to arrive at Williams at 9:24 a.m., with a contingent of Gary public officials and business leaders and Sky Value executives, she said.

Gary Mayor Rudy Clay, Indiana State Sen. Earline Rogers and Marion J. Johnson Jr., president of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority, are to be among passengers.
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  #28  
Old Posted Dec 28, 2006, 3:30 AM
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Here's an interesting article on the light rail from phoenixnewtimes.

http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/Issue...s/feature.html
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  #29  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2007, 5:02 PM
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Arrow Phoenix Transit/Transportation Developments

I thought that, since there will be a lot of transit and transportation news coming with LRT opening next year and freeway and transit plans constantly being highlighted for construction acceleration, I would start a Phoenix transportation thread. If anyone thinks this isn't necessary and should be handled in the Phoenix Development Thread, we can just move it over there.

I'm a civil engineer and am very interested in transit and transportation, so I will do my best to post new developments as I read or hear about them.

Here are three articles from today and a couple days ago from the AZ Republic/azcentral...

Plans link bus routes to stations for light rail
Jim Walsh
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 16, 2007 12:00 AM
Two years before the first Metro light-rail train rumbles across the Valley, a maze of bus routes connecting to rail stations is planned to boost ridership, curb congestion and reduce air pollution.

The Metro rail will stretch 20 miles from northwest Phoenix to west Mesa, making bus connections from every direction essential.

Valley Metro is adding at least 14 express routes that either will connect to the Metro light-rail line or fill in the gaps until Metro is expanded.

"It still isn't the whole picture for transit in the region. There will be a lot of express-bus investments to connect with the light-rail system," said Stuart Boggs, manager of transit planning for Valley Metro.

The plan puts a premium on boosting service at the Valley's fringes, where little service has existed, he said. It also caters to commuters.

For instance, commuters who live in Mesa could travel to work in Scottsdale, and west Phoenix residents could travel to work in Peoria using the rail line and express buses. A few examples:


• The East Loop 101 express could connect Scottsdale Airpark to a planned transit center at Chandler Fashion Center.


• The West Loop 101 express could connect Peoria to a planned rail station at 79th Avenue and Interstate 10. A light-rail spur is planned to the station.


• The Red Mountain express could run from a park-and-ride lot off Power Road in northeast Mesa to a planned light-rail station on Rural Road in Tempe.

Mesa tentatively plans groundbreaking ceremonies Jan. 27 for the Sycamore light-rail station at Sycamore and Main Street. The city has only one mile of light rail but two, and possibly three, connecting buses are planned. The light-rail system could be expanded to 57 miles by 2026, depending on funding.

Mike James, Mesa's deputy transportation director, said Proposition 400, the extension of a half-cent sales tax approved in 2004, pays for some express buses. Consultant HDR Inc. is expected to release a report to Valley cities on Jan. 29 and some routes eventually may be shifted to improve service, he said.

Governor pledges transit support
Josh Kelley and Mike Walbert
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 13, 2007 12:00 AM
When it comes to relieving Arizona's transportation woes, Gov. Janet Napolitano assured members of the East Valley Partnership on Friday of one solution she opposes.

"I am not a fan of toll roads," Napolitano said to about 300 people at a breakfast at Mesa Community College. "I'll tell you right up front. There's a reason I don't live in New Jersey."

And unlike the Garden State, the population of Arizona is projected to increase by millions over the next 15 years, including Pinal County, which is expected to surpass Pima County as the state's second largest behind Maricopa, Napolitano said.

That's a growth rate the governor said demands smart planning and coordination among government leaders to avert water supply and traffic crises.

The governor received a warm reception at the breakfast, which has become an annual Southeast Valley event held just as the legislative session is beginning.

Napolitano gave a speech in which she named education her top priority and took questions from the audience about the effect of the new minimum wage law on disabled workers, problems with the state's behavioral health services and transportation planning.

In addition to $300 million in state budget surplus money appropriated last year to speed road construction, Napolitano said bonds used to pay for roads should be extended to provide an additional $400 million to further accelerate freeway construction, including projects in the Southeast Valley.

She has also requested that the Arizona Department of Transportation submit proposals to her within 90 days for the possible installation of commuter rail systems or more light rail to alleviate traffic congestion.

Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, who - alongside state Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, - has proposed finding $200 million to devote toward freeway project acceleration, said he wants to examine closely all options that have been floated in recent weeks, including those proposed by Napolitano.

"I don't want to take anything off the table," Verschoor said. "Everything is on the table."

Verschoor also said he is interested to see ADOT's rail study that was ordered by Napolitano.

A vocal supporter of commuter rail, Verschoor said having the governor back a study of that transit option "will add some extra needed weight to it."

Though he describes himself as not a "big fan" of bonding, Verschoor is warm to the idea of extending bonds.

"It's not like we're borrowing money to buy computers," he said.

"You're talking about an infrastructure that 30 years from now we are going to be using it."

However, Biggs, who heads the House Transportation Committee, said he was skeptical of Napolitano's bond proposal. Biggs' preference is to gather acceleration funds from budget areas where roads and highway dollars were diverted previously.

Arizona transportation officials discuss toll road
Associated Press
Jan. 15, 2007 04:25 PM
Establishing a toll road in Arizona would take a lot of time and planning, but doing so may become one of the best ways to pay for new roads in the state, transportation officials said at a recent discussion in Tucson.

They said toll roads are one way to get around and ahead of gas-tax and federal funding shortfalls, and could fund such transportation projects as a bypass allowing some traffic on Interstate 10 to avoid the Tucson and Phoenix metropolitan areas.

"There are discussions going on in Phoenix, statewide and here about doing things differently; tolling is one of those things," said Gary Hayes, executive director of the Tucson area's Regional Transportation Authority.

While state and federal transportation funding are the long-standing sources for money, those sources aren't cutting it anymore, he said.

Priscilla Cornelio, Pima County transportation director, said the county never has enough money to fund transportation improvements. But, she said Maricopa County would be more likely to get a toll road than Pima.

She said the increased congestion and more established freeway systems in Maricopa County, the state's most populous, would make it a better candidate for a toll road.

The Arizona Department of Transportation would consider construction or operation of toll roads only if there was public support for any fees assessed to drivers, as well as support from lawmakers, said department spokeswoman Teresa Welborn.

Stephen Hogan, executive director of a 10-mile toll road near Denver that opened in 2003, said he thinks federal gas-tax money to build roads will be gone within the next five years.

"No one wants to pay a toll, but whether it's a toll or a tax, everybody's paying," he said. "If you do it through an entity that's focused on building a toll road, you'll get it done quicker."

Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com
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  #30  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2007, 6:00 PM
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I'd love it if AZ got some toll roads, if it meant we paid less in taxes. However it'll never mean that, we'll keep paying the same in taxes, and have to pay tolls on top of that. Let those who use, pay, thats what I say (I should be a rapper).
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  #31  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2007, 6:01 PM
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Being a civil engineer as well, mostly dealing with traffic and transportation projects, this interests me as well. I've even spent 8 months as an inspector on the light rail.

The first two articles you posted were great reads, the third sucked. When I read the third this morning online I was wondering why that would even be considered and I was thinking "what about the possibility of commuter rail" in my mind. Then I read the second article about Gov Janet proclaiming herself against toll roads and wanting to study commuter rail further... great!

I think there needs to be more local shuttles in the valley. The neighborhood shuttle in Tempe that winds through the neighborhoods east of ASU were ALWAYS packed full when I was working out there. I know most of it is due to students using it to get to campus instead of driving... but more shuttles like that throughout the valley that would link higher density neighborhoods to shopping areas and especially the light rail would work wonders, IMO. They are free, so probably expensive to run without any revenue (not that a fare is much revenue), but we should allocate money (from prop 400?) for increased shuttles. If not, maybe charge $.50 or $1.00.
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  #32  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2007, 7:48 PM
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^ I completely agree with you about commuter rail vs. toll roads. With cities like Albuquerque opening up their own commuter rail lines, we are once again behind the curve.

As far as the shuttles go, there was a story a few weeks ago that was posted in the Phx development thread about increased shuttle service...

Quote:
Phoenix is planning to unveil more neighborhood buses in Maryvale and Sunnyslope by mid- to late 2007. Those will be followed in 2008 by others in the following areas: Desert Ridge, Desert Sky, Laveen, South Mountain and northwest Phoenix.
These are being paid for under the RTP (Regional Transportation Plan) for which funding was approved under Prop 400.
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  #33  
Old Posted Jan 16, 2007, 8:33 PM
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/\ I'm all for more shuttles in Phoenix, but none of those that are listed above look like they will have any interaction with the light rail line.

Maybe Valley Metro or the bus line planners in the area feel as though most areas and neighborhoods near the light rail line are serviced by other bus lines, possibly even on minor arterial or collector streets, so they feel shuttles aren't needed, but I think they totally are, especially since the shuttles can travel on possibly local streets.

This is entirely self-serving, but oh well, the shuttles I'm thinking about could work like this in my neighborhood (Coronado) and elsewhere downtownish:



This serves the following things, amongst others:

1. Light Rail Station
2. Heard Museum
3. Palm Ln apts/condos/homes/offices
4. Coronado Park
5. The east Coronado area (east of 16th St)
6. 16th St business (incl. Barrio Cafe, etc.)
7. North High School
8. West Coronado Neighborhood
9. St. Mary's High School

You can't tell me that wouldn't have high ridership and be useful to the area and to the light rail system...
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  #34  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2007, 6:53 AM
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I was driving down the 202 today eastbound approaching Priest, and I saw a segment of lightrail track that had the overhead wires in place. I'm going to try to get some pictures later this week.
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  #35  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2007, 7:38 AM
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^ That is the rail spur that connects the main LRT line to the maintenance yard. The spur bridges over the railroad tracks at that point.

If you drive down Washington, passing under the 202, you can get a better view.
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  #36  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2007, 5:42 PM
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Somewhat on topic, I came up with the following map and sent it to the City of Phoenix. It builds on ideas the Urban Land institute was throwing around for a re-enlivened Papago Park. One of the suggestions was a tourist trolley, I expanded on the idea by turning it into a 5 mile streetcar line instead that would connect downtown Scottsdale to Papago park.



Not bad for what, $150 million before significant federal reimbursements?
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  #37  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2007, 6:25 PM
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^ Wow! That would be great. You could create a loop in/near downtown Scottsdale that would serve the Civic Center and Giants' Spring Training Stadium, too. I like the route you chose... keeping it off Scottsdale Rd. might keep people from bitching too much about construction inconveniences (although I'm sure people living in neighborhoods along 64th street would throw fits). This I would be interested to hear what the City had to say in response to your map. Very nice work!
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  #38  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2007, 8:00 PM
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I think that would be awesome!

It's too bad that the town lake/Salt River is where it is... Could you imagine the Mill Avenue area and Downtown Scottsdale directly connected with a streetcar? As you have it, you have to make a quick jump on the light rail to connect to Mill... but having two "bustling" areas bookend the line would work absolute wonders.

Really, it is too good.
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  #39  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2007, 8:08 PM
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I'm just curious, how much track is going to be laid. Is this the beginning of something much larger?
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  #40  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2007, 8:16 PM
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^ This streetcar line is just an idea that combusean came up with. It's not currently being proposed by the City of Phoenix or Valley Metro or any other entity that I'm aware of (I believe there is a study going on looking at transit options including BRT, LRT, and streetcars for Scottsdale Rd, but it is still in teh study stages).

If your question was referring to the LRT in Phoenix in general, the first 20 miles are now under construction (complete in late 2008) and an additional 28 miles have been approved but have yet to begin construction or final design.
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