Phoenix voters have approved money for light rail no fewer than three times. This August, we’ll have to do it yet again, thanks to the anti-transit interests in, and also beyond, the Valley.
Proposition 105 is an anti-transit proposal that would prohibit Phoenix from expanding or improving the Light rail, or investing in fixed rail at all, ever. Proposition 105 is pure theft – it would steal money from public transit and use it to repave roads for private automobiles.
It’s a slap in the face to voters who’ve clearly expressed a desire for Light Rail on multiple occasions, and the Arizona Republic has rightfully come out against it, calling 105 “a heavy-handed response that’s designed to upend the very existence of light rail“. Their article is worth a look, but if you needed even more reasons to vote NO on Proposition 105, read on.
Light rail takes cars off the road and makes our air cleaner
While you’re sitting in traffic on the I-10 or the I-17, try to imagine what your drive would be like with an extra 43,000 cars on the road. In 2018, Phoenicians and our visitors boarded the light rail nearly 16 million times. That translates to roughly 43,000 vehicle trips every single day. Those 43,000 cars would otherwise be competing with you for a spot on the freeways or arterial roads, all the while pumping out pollutants that are the main cause of our famous Brown Cloud.
Just this year, the American Lung Association ranked Maricopa County as one of the worst in terms of air pollution. The high levels of ozone and particulate matter in Phoenix’s air causes all types of negative health issues including wheezing, COPD, and worsened asthma.
Regardless of your feelings regarding climate change, we can all relate to clean air. Continuing to expand our light rail system will bring this transportation option to more valley residents and result in both cleaner air and reduced traffic.
Light rail strengthens our economy and our community
Since the Light Rail opened in 2008, Phoenix has seen over $11 Billion invested and over 35,000 jobs created within a half mile of the line. In addition, more than 25,000 apartments and condo units have been constructed in the same zone (Source). Considering the line was built for $1.4 Billion, that’s an impressive 780% return on investment.
Downtown, mid-town, and uptown Phoenix, areas which were famously desolate outside of business hours, now bustle with activity, offering a far wider array of entertainment and culture than was available in 2008.
The Light Rail system also improves tourism; Valley leaders say the system is instrumental in luring huge events like the Super Bowl & NCAA Final Four; this no-doubt also applies to smaller conventions and other events.
Visitors to Phoenix no longer need to rent a car from a national chain to get around town, increasing the number of dollars they can spend in our local restaurants, shops, and other businesses. All of this activity brings benefits that reach far beyond Central Avenue. Residents from the suburbs have access to all of these new jobs, shops, restaurants, and bars; they’re as close as your local park-and-ride.
Light Rail helps preserve our desert environment
Maricopa County is the fastest-growing county in the United States, topping the chart for 3 straight years now. Most of this growth has come at the expense of the beautiful Sonoran Desert that our residents are proud to call home. Unless we plan on continuing to turn this beautiful desert around us into forgettable tracts of single-family homes, Phoenix and its surrounding cities will need to grow upwards, not outwards. Light Rail enables higher-density development along its route by moving more people through the corridor than cars ever could, giving our deserts a fighting chance.
Prop 105 is simply anti-transit; it was never about fixing roads.
We’re already fixing our roads at a record pace, thanks to Phoenix’s Accelerated Road Maintenance Program. This program was further accelerated when the City Council delayed (and likely killed) two planned Light Rail extensions and diverted the money towards roads. The backers of Prop 105 still aren’t satisfied, and they won’t be until they kill off rail in Phoenix completely. Prop 105 wouldn’t just kill the light rail, but prohibit Phoenix from investing in fixed rail altogether, locking Phoenix into car dependency forever – surely a good thing in the eyes of its big-oil-connected backers.
Please join me in voting NO on Proposition 105, and encouraging others to do the same.
The last day to register to vote in this election is July 29th.
Anthony Previte is a native Phoenix resident, and publisher of PHXurbanist.com, blog a focusing on city life and development in and near downtown Phoenix.