Public Transit Myths vs. Facts

August 13, 2019
Friends of Transit

Friends of Transit has committed to educating the public on the benefits and importance of a well-designed and accessible mass transit system to the Greater Phoenix Community. Below are some common "Myths" spread about public transit in the Phoenix Metro Area. Read on to the FACTS on public transit and share with your friends and neighbors!

Myth: Light Rail is taking from what could be spent to repair streets

Fact: In 2015, voters doubled the funding for street pavement improvements that will benefit every street in Phoenix. As part of this $1 billion-plus street-maintenance program, every street across the city will receive a pavement maintenance treatment approximately every ten years and there is a plan in place to accelerate the program. There are sufficient dollars to fund both street improvements and transit – it does not have to be one vs. the other.

Sources – T2050 Annual Report, PHX Street Transportation Department Pavement Preservation Program. Get more information at


Myth: The South Central Light Rail Extension is the most expensive rail project in the country

Fact: The South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub will cost $1.35 billion total which is about $245 million per mile; the average cost of rail per mile is between $200 million and $500 million nationwide.

Sources – CityLab, Valley Metro South Central Extension/Downtown Hub Project Overview. Want even more information about the costs related to the South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub project? Click here


Myth: Light Rail causes traffic congestion

Fact: 57% of riders with access to a car made the choice to take Light Rail instead – this is the equivalent of removing 27,000 car trips from the road daily and 8.2 million annually, which reduces congestion and helps to improve air quality.

Source – Valley Metro Quality of Life Report. Want to see other ways Light Rail improves quality of life for people? Visit


Myth: Light Rail causes gentrification and displacement

Fact: Only 39% of household income is spent on housing and transportation within the Light Rail corridor compared to 53% in all of Maricopa County. In addition, 2,200 new affordable housing units have been built along the line since Light Rail construction began.

Source – Valley Metro Quality of Life Report. Want to see other ways Light Rail has helped create affordable housing opportunities? Visit


Myth: Light Rail construction kills local businesses

Fact: After the success of six previous rail projects in metro Phoenix, Valley Metro has customized a business support plan that is active before and during construction. “Considerate” construction is also part of the plan, which helps maintain access to businesses, safe routes for pedestrians, and localized hiring and spending throughout the project.

Source – Valley Metro. You can learn more about Valley Metro Business Assistance programs by selecting the “business assistance” tab under any Light Rail extension project webpage


Myth: South Central will be the only project to lose traffic lanes

Fact: Of the 26 miles of light rail, 20 miles have required a reduction in vehicular lanes. Main Street in Downtown Mesa currently operates with two traffic lanes.

Source – AZ Central


Myth: If Prop. 105 prevails, funds designated for light rail extensions can be re-directed to finance other projects within Phoenix

Fact: The voter approved transportation plan for Phoenix only partially funds the total costs of building Phoenix light rail extensions. The majority of funding for light rail projects comes from federal grant programs and regional Proposition 400 sales tax dollars that are dedicated exclusively to rail extensions and cannot be transferred to other uses or city projects. Passing Prop. 105 would result in a loss of $5 billion of federal funds for the City, and those funds would likely go to other regions outside of Arizona.

Source – Valley Metro South Central Extension/Downtown Hub Project Overview


Myth: Light rail is not important - Phoenix should focus on other modes of transit

Fact: Light rail is essential to a balanced transportation plan and moving large numbers of people in limited spaces. With a projection of more than two million people moving to Phoenix over the next 12-15 years, sustainable public transportation is more important now than ever. 

Source – Maricopa Association of Governments Transportation. You can learn more about Maricopa County’s Regional Transportation Plan here.


Myth: Corporations and politicians are the only ones who approve of light rail

Fact: Phoenix voters have approved of light rail on three separate occasions in 2000, 2004, and 2015.

Source – AZ Central. Get the history of voter approved light rail here

Myth: Phoenix should not invest in Light Rail because so few people ride it

Fact: Light Rail has made riding transit easier and faster. By introducing light rail into Phoenix, transit ridership has increased by 487%, from 2.8 million riders to 16.5 million riders. More than 50,000 riders rely on light rail each day and ridership has far surpassed the initial estimates and modeling.

Source – Valley Metro Quality of Life Report. You can read more about light rail ridership at


Myth: Light Rail is a waste of billions of tax payer dollars

Fact: Light Rail is an investment. As a result of that investment, over 35,000 jobs have been created within one half-mile of light rail since 2008 and 30% of light rail boardings are work-related. $11 billion has been invested in public and private infrastructure and $2.6 billion has been invested in educational facilities in the light rail corridor since construction began.

Source – Valley Metro Quality of Life Report. You can read more about the economic benefits of light rail at


Myth: Taxes will increase to maintain the operations for the South Central Light Rail Extension/Downtown Hub

Fact: Phoenix’s voter approved transportation plan provides a dedicated revenue source for bus service, light rail service, and street improvements – taxes will not increase.

Source – Valley Metro South Central Extension/Downtown Hub Project Overview. You can learn more about the City of Phoenix’s voter approved T2050 plan at

Myth: Light Rail is dangerous for drivers and pedestrians

Fact: There has been a 50% decrease in bicycle and pedestrian collisions and 10% decrease in collision fatalities in the Phoenix light rail corridor.

Source – Valley Metro Quality of Life Report. Get the facts on light rail health and safety at