August 1, 2012
Below are several local or national transportation-related articles and announcements that we thought you might find interesting.
In the News:
Governor Jan Brewer Announces Jim Kolbe to Lead Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance, July 26, 2012, Office of the Arizona Governor
Phoenix-area Circulator Bus Routes Expand, July 26, 2012, The Arizona Republic
Ridership Increases 5.1% in 2011-2012, July 26, 2012, ValleyMetro.org
New Booster Seat Law to Take Effect Thursday, July 30, 2012, KJZZ.Org
August 7, 2012, WTS presents “Advancing Women in Transportation” Lunch Seminar (See the flyer here)
ADOT presents Passenger Rail Corridor Study Meetings in August
(See the Meeting Information here)
Don’t forget to visit Friends of Transit on the web at www.FriendsOfTransit.org!
Friends of Transit is on Facebook!
Governor Jan Brewer Announces Jim Kolbe to Lead Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance
Office of the Arizona Governor
June 26, 2012
Will join ADOT Director John Halikowski as Co-Chairmen of Panel
PHOENIX – Governor Jan Brewer today announced that former Congressman Jim Kolbe will serve as Co-Chairman of the Arizona Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance. In February, the Governor announced the formation of the panel comprised of statewide and local experts in transportation, international trade and energy.
“With more than two decades of service in the United States House of Representatives – in addition to a wealth of expertise in transatlantic relations, international development and foreign policy – Mr. Kolbe is an ideal candidate to help lead the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance,” said Governor Brewer. “I am grateful he has agreed to provide his leadership and knowledge to fellow members and to the State of Arizona.”
Kolbe, who served Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1985 to 2007, has continued to focus on issues related to international trade since leaving office. He currently serves as a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States; Senior Adviser to McLarty Associates, a strategic consulting firm; Co-Chairman of the Transatlantic Taskforce on Development and of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN). He also serves on the boards of numerous organizations, including Freedom House, the International Republican Institute and the Southern Arizona Community Food Bank.
“Arizona is uniquely positioned as a fast growing, southwestern border state to reap the economic benefits of expanded trade and investment with Mexico, Canada and the Far East. But for that to happen, the state’s transportation system and border infrastructure must be up to the task,” said Kolbe. “It will be the mission of the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance to help plan for the future and guide state resources so that they are used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Building such a network will expand trade and investment that in turn creates jobs and brings economic development to Arizona. I’m excited to be able to play a part in this group’s important work.”
Kolbe and ADOT Director John Halikowski will serve as Co-Chairmen of the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance. The pair will facilitate discussions among the Alliance’s steering-committee members and stakeholders.
“The Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance is an opportunity for Arizona to more directly assess the linkage between economic development and infrastructure needs,” said Director Halikowski. “The roads and bridges we use everyday are strongly tied to the ability of businesses – and the state – to succeed in an ever-changing marketplace. Strong infrastructure connections are critical to Arizona’s ability to compete in the global economy.”
In February 2012, Governor Brewer asked that ADOT lead the Transportation and Trade Corridor Alliance as part of an initiative to strengthen the State’s ability to compete for economic development and jobs. ADOT – in collaboration with the Arizona-Mexico Commission and the Arizona Commerce Authority – will bring together public and private sector partners to assess opportunities for Arizona to pursue investments in trade corridors such as the newly-designated Interstate 11, and to explore enhancements to border infrastructure.
The Alliance will help identify how best to take advantage of the state’s current resources and guide future investment in a strategic way to increase the capacity of existing corridors – all with the ultimate goal of improving Arizona’s competitiveness in a global marketplace.
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Phoenix-area Circulator Bus Routes Expand
David Madrid – The Arizona Republic
July 26, 2012
Small, local bus routes connect neighborhoods to other transit
Buses with quirky names like Zoom, Buzz, Orbit and Alex have become a critical piece of the Valley's transit puzzle.
Neighborhood circulators -- these small buses with unique names -- offer localized service designed for specific purposes in their cities. They carry fewer people, are inexpensive and are more user-friendly than the larger traditional buses, officials say.
And in some southwest Valley cities, they now play a much more important role. Avondale's Zoom circulator has been used to replace inefficient bus service and to fill gaps left by state budget cuts and falling county transportation revenue.
On Monday, Tolleson -- which lost two of its four routes because of budget cuts -- joined the Zoom to beef up its bus service. Avondale also now makes a stop in Goodyear at the Southwest Valley Family YMCA.
There are about 20 neighborhood circulators in the Valley, including Scottsdale's trolley system. In addition to the Zoom, there are Mesa's Buzz, Tempe's Orbit and Flash, Glendale's Gus and Phoenix's Mary, Alex, Dash and Smart.
These buses help expose new riders to mass transit, said Susan Tierney, a spokeswoman for Valley Metro.
"They really get into the neighborhoods where the people live and the destinations that they go to, and it can expose them to transit service," she said, "especially for those people who have never ridden or have never been exposed to transit service before."
With 30-minute service between stops, the ridership on the Zoom has increased 62 percent since it began a year ago to more than 400 boardings a day.
That includes riders like Tolleson resident Maryann Rocha, 50.
Her daughter, Jasmyne Ramirez, a 16-year-old student enrolled in summer programs at Estrella Mountain Community College, can now walk down the street to catch the Zoom near City Hall instead of catching it more than a mile away in Avondale.
"That's the only way she has to get there," Rocha said.
Jodi Sorrell, Mesa interim transit services director, said the city's Buzz was developed to make traditional bus routes more efficient.
"If you go back to 2008, we had like a spaghetti of service in the downtown area, and our buses were moving in all sorts of crazy ways downtown," Sorrell said. "We wanted to streamline that to make it more effective for our fixed-route riders so they could get to their destinations in a more timely fashion."
Both Mesa's and Avondale's buses are owned and operated by Valley Metro, the Valley's regional transit system.
Other neighborhood circulator systems in the Valley are owned by the cities that operate them.
Paying for service
All the circulators are free to ride except for Avondale's Zoom, which costs 50 cents, and Gus, which costs a quarter.
Traditionally, public transit is heavily subsidized and the fare doesn't fully cover the cost to operate the service.
The more buses that a city operates, the more expensive it is to maintain the system.
In Tempe, voters approved a half-cent sales tax, part of which is dedicated to its circulator system, said Sue Taaffe, Tempe's transportation spokeswoman.
Tempe has its Orbit routes and provides Arizona State University with its Flash routes.
"It is something that our residents wanted, and it is a qualify of life issue, in that it helps get people into a fixed-route or light-rail system, so we've had very successful ridership on the Orbit," Taaffe said.
Tempe owns nine Flash buses with seven in service and two spares.
The cost to operate the five Orbit routes is $9 million annually. The cost to operate the Flash system is $790,000 annually, which is paid by ASU.
In comparison, Avondale's cost is $500,000 a year and a federal grant matches that.
Tolleson will pay $122,500 for the Zoom service, while a federal grant adds $120,500. The Zoom operates five buses and has one spare.
As cities struggle to fund transit, it has posed challenges for the circulators and for overall bus service.
In Phoenix, Alex serves Ahwatukee Foothills; Mary serves Maryvale; the Dash loops from downtown to the state Capitol and Smart serves Sunnyslope.
"We put them (circulators) in the neighborhoods where the big buses can't go," said Marie Chapple, a spokeswoman for the Phoenix Public Transit Department.
Because the struggling economy has hurt tax revenue, it can be difficult to provide enough funding to keep the circulators operating every 30 minutes.
In transit circles, the magic number between stops appears to be 30 minutes. When cities lengthen out those stop intervals, ridership falls.
Without adequate funding, stops are eliminated, pick-up times are changed, and frequency suffers.
Chapple said Phoenix, which has a .4 percent sales tax devoted to transit, reduced overall circulator service by 58 percent and saw a drop in riders. However, those rider numbers are beginning to grow again, as people have readjusted to route changes, she said.
Tempe has also adjusted routes because of the drop in sales-tax revenue.
People are more comfortable boarding the smaller buses in their neighborhoods than the bigger buses, Tierney said.
Ridership Increases 5.1% in 2011-12
July 26, 2012
Phoenix, AZ Valley Metro experienced a 5.1% increase in annual regional transit ridership over the same period one year ago, calculated annually from July 1 to June 30, at more than 71 million boardings. Light rail ridership was the highest recorded at more than 13.5 million annual boardings.
“As the economy moves in a positive direction and new jobs are generated, there is an upswing in public transit use,” said Steve Banta, Valley Metro CEO. “In addition, we appreciate that there is a greater interest in taking public transit because of its convenience and value.”
Besides using transit to get to work and school, people are taking light rail to community and sporting events, which is contributing to days of record-breaking ridership. There were 62,227 light rail boardings on the day of the Diamondbacks home opener game on April 6, 2012 as compared to an average daily ridership of about 42,000 passengers. Due to a stronger local economy and higher gas prices during this time period, bus service has experienced increases in ridership nearly every month over the same time one year ago. A snapshot of the ridership is shown below.
Across the U.S., more people are finding that using bus or light rail helps save money and can improve the environment by reducing the formation of emissions that create pollution. According to the American Public Transportation Association’s June 2012 Transit Savings Report (www.apta.com), individuals who ride public transportation instead of drive can save, on average, $812 a month, or $9,743 annually.
Details about annual and monthly transit ridership and all Valley Metro public transit services are available at. http://bit.ly/NIBgpx.
Valley Metro RPTA provides eco-friendly public transit options to residents of greater Phoenix and Maricopa County, including a clean-fuel bus fleet, low-emissions light rail, commuter vanpools, online carpool matching, bus trip mapping, bicycle safety and telework assistance. Funding is provided by local and federal revenues. A board of 16 governments sets the policy direction for the agency and works to improve and regionalize the public transit system. Get the latest news by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
Valley Metro Rail (dba METRO light rail) is responsible for the development and operation of the region’s high-capacity transit system. The first 20-mile light rail line opened December 2008 and served 13.2 million riders in 2011, exceeding the prior year by four percent. METRO serves an average of 40,000 riders per weekday. It is also planning for six extensions that will create a 57-mile system by 2032.
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New Booster Seat Law to Take Effect Thursday
Lynn Kelley – KJZZ.org
July 30, 2012
Hundreds of new laws will take effect this Thursday in Arizona, and among them is one that will require auto booster seats for kids younger than 8 years old or under 4'9" tall. Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of death of children, and the proper use of a safety seat reduces a child's fatality risk by 71 percent.
Linda Gorman of AAA Arizona says the booster seat law is meant to save lives. "This is a landmark for child passenger safety," Gorman said. "So it goes into effect on Thursday, and it closes the existing law, which allows parents and caregivers to transition children once they reach the age of 5 from a child passenger seat to a seatbelt alone."
Gorman says there is help if you are unable to afford a booster seat. "Booster seats start at around $16, so they’re not too expensive, but there are low-cost and no-cost programs available out there. If you contact your local health department in your county, you can find out how you can obtain one of these seats."
Arizona is the 48th state to pass such a law. Not following the new regulation could result in a $50 fine.
ADOT Passenger Rail Corridor Study – Corridor Support Team Meetings
Wednesday, August 15th; 1pm – 4pm
University of Arizona University Services Annex (former Tucson Electric Power Building)
220 W 6 St
Tucson, AZ 85721
Thursday August 16th; 1 pm- 4 pm
City of Casa Grande Council Chambers
510 E. Florence Blvd
Casa Grande, AZ 85122
Thursday August 23rd; 1 pm-4 pm
Burton Barr Central Library
1221 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004
The meetings will include an overview presentation, alternative preference activity, a small group exercise related to station area s and multimodal connections, and a full group wrap up with a report-out. Each event will include the same information, so feel free to attend any of the meetings that best fit your schedule.
Please RSVP by August 10, 2012 to Kristin Bornstein at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is hard to believe that the Arizona Passenger Rail Corridor Study has been underway for more than one year now. Since our kick-off meeting in March 2011 at the Wild Horse Pass Resort, we have accomplished the following:
Corridor Support Team Meetings Round 1 (June 2011); many of you attended these meetings last summer which included memorable events, such as our alternative building exercise with stickers and yarn, and discussion groups about alternative evaluation criteria.
Notice of Intent (October 2011); on October 6th, 2011 the FRA and FTA issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) to advise
other agencies and the public that they will jointly prepare a Tier I EIS to study the implementation of passenger rail service between Tucson, Arizona and Phoenix, Arizona and to serve communities in between the two metropolitan areas.
Agency and Public Scoping (October and November 2011); the study team hosted 12 scoping events. A total of 141 people signed in to the scoping events, and hundreds more stopped by the project information booths at community events and spoke with project team members. There were 3,965 people who viewed the project video online, and 2,845 participated online. A project scoping report is available on the project website (http://www.azdot.gov/passengerrail/) that details the public input received during scoping.
Initial Alternative Screening—the first step in the evaluation process, the study team applied evaluation criteria to routes and station locations to aide in the development of several conceptual alternatives.
Conceptual Alternatives—based on public and stakeholder input the team developed seven initial alternatives. These alternatives will be presented at the CST Meetings listed above, and are available on the project website at http://www.azdot.gov/passengerrail/
Attached please find our Spring Project Update in two formats for your convenience: the "Read Version" is for viewing electronically and the "Print Version” is for printing.
Please let me know if you have any further questions about the ADOT Passenger Rail Study, and I look forward to seeing you at a Corridor Support Team meeting in August.
Please RSVP to Kristin Bornstein at email@example.com and let us know which CST meeting you plan to attend.
Thanks for your continued involvement in this study.
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