Prop 104: Phoenix Light Rail Continues to Operate At A Loss

By Tom Jenney

The Prop 104 tax increase would fund a gigantic $31 BILLION boondoggle – the largest tax-and-spend plan in Phoenix history. The proposal is light on real transportation, spending only a small fraction of revenues on street improvements. But the plan is heavy on light rail.

According to the Arizona chapter of Americans for Prosperity (www.afpaz.com), light rail transit is far and away the most expensive and inefficient transportation option available to Phoenix commuters. As Valley Metro admitted in projections submitted to the federal government, light rail removes only about one car in 1,000 from traffic, doing nothing to improve traffic congestion. In fact, by blocking traffic flow in Phoenix, light rail actually makes traffic congestion and commuter pollution worse.

Fewer than one percent of Phoenix commuters use light rail. Most light rail riders are people who would otherwise ride buses. In the decade before light rail, Phoenix bus ridership increased by an average of five percent per year. Since the opening of light rail, bus ridership has fallen by ten percent. We need a transportation plan to help the 99 percent, not the one percent!

According to Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who opposes the proposal, the plan would spend over $161 MILLION per mile of track. That money could be much better used almost anywhere else. In government, that money would be better spent on road repairs, bus transit, education or police and fire services. In the private sector, that money could be used to start businesses and create jobs. Also, according to the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, Phoenix light rail has operating losses exceeding $10 million a year.

Please vote NO on Prop 104 to protect taxpayers and to improve transportation in Phoenix!

Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio: Vote NO on Prop 104!

By Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio

If you support education, please vote NO on Proposition 104.

According to Phoenix staff, light rail will cost $161 Million per mile. The $31.5 Billion tax will take needed monies from education and other higher priorities.

The same politicians and insiders who brought you the failed Sheraton and pension fiasco are now bringing you this rushed train tax increase.

The Sheraton has lost over $130 Million in value and pensions are draining millions from our police and fire services every single year.

Mayor Stanton rushed the tax increase and exempted big business, forcing small business to pay the full tax. According to a City of Phoenix staff report, exempting big business from the tax increase will cost you $300 Million more in interest expense. Big business is now pouring millions into the campaign to pass this tax increase.

Education is the highest priority in our city. This tax increase will take money away from education. One mile of rail could pay the salaries of over 2,900 teachers.

Phoenix must first get its financial house in order and restore fiscal responsibility and accountability.

This election is about the future of our great city. Phoenix can either choose a path like other bankrupt cities, or, you can send a message to leadership to get its financial house in order.

  • $31.5 Billion in new taxes
  • $161 Million – cost per mile to build rail
  • $300 Million in more interest expense by exempting big business
  • 2900 NEW teachers for the cost of just one mile of rail

I strongly urge you to vote NO on Proposition 104.

Four Reasons to Vote NO on Prop 104

By Bill Haynes

The people of Phoenix should vote “No” on Proposition 104 for many reasons. Consider these four.

First, the price tag is beyond huge, imposing a $31 billion tax burden on Phoenicians. Such a tax burden could be a direct assault on property values as future city councils seek funds to pay debt by considering property taxes.

Definitely, Proposition 104 is an assault on the paychecks as it calls for still another increase in the city’s sales tax, which would put it near the highest rate in the US for major cities.

Second, while proponents of light rail gleefully point to business development after construction is completed, they never discuss the number of businesses that were destroyed during construction and the businesses that suffer reduced traffic because of now being less accessible.

Third, light rail proponents like to say that is reduces air pollution by taking autos off the streets. Fact is, less than one in a thousand (0.1%) is the auto reduction because of light rail in Phoenix. Further, advocates ignore that because of light rail it sometimes takes 3-1/2 minutes to make a left turn on Central Avenue, a development that adds to air pollution.

Finally, Prop 104, regardless of what proponents say, is not about “expanded transportation options for the people of Phoenix,” but is about massive contracts for companies in the light rail construction industry, which are the primary funders of the Pro-104 movement.

Phoenicians need to recognize that they are being taken for a ride with Prop 104. By voting it down, they will safeguard their pocketbooks and their property values.

Prop 104: Burning Questions for Prop 104 Proponents and Shills

By Becky Fenger

Since most Phoenicians simply want the potholes in our neighborhoods filled and the streets we use improved, why are we being forced to accept more light rail extensions that will cannibalize the bulk of the money for these desired repairs?

Since most voters would rather have new freeways than we would bike paths or beautification of walking paths, why are we forced to pay for both?

Vote No on Prop 104

Voters would prefer to get a menu of options that we can vote up or down rather than be forced to pay $31.5 billion for everything on some city official’s Wish List. Why are we given this all-or-nothing plan and threatened with horror stories if we vote No? Should citizens be indebted just to bloat a transit bureaucracy?

Why is almost everyone who is publicly touting this ballot measure getting paid or enriched in some way?

Why have the Valley media kept Valley Metro’s own figures under wraps that show building more light rail transit at grade level will give us more pollution and congestion?

When the first twenty miles of light rail gave us massive deficits, why would we as straight thinkers vote to triple that debt?

Why was the Committee that was formed to oversee this plan given unrestricted authority to change the promises made to voters in this ballot measure if Prop 104 passes? What recourse do we voters have down the line when money is transferred from road improvements or bus rapid transit to expensive light rail?

Why would the City of Phoenix, buried under massive unfunded pension debt, hatch a plan that incurs huge interest payments?

Since I have not heard any answers to my questions, I must vote “NO”

Member of Citizens Commission of the Future of Phoenix Transportation – Vote NO on Prop 104

By Roy Miller

I was on the Citizens Commission of the Future of Phoenix Transportation. I voted NO on the Commission recommendation for allocating 30 billion dollars to a wasteful shopping list of transportation schemes. The most wasteful is the $160 million per mile that the Commission voted to extend light rail. Passenger rail is a 19th Century solution to a 21st Century problem. The future of transportation is NOT mass transit but rather individual transit. This includes small automobiles, autonomous vehicles, on-demand services such as Uber or Lyft, and a number of other transportation innovations. These ideas received little attention in our committee. How did this happen? The chair of our committee essentially let the City of Phoenix transportation staff run the meetings. Their presentations of various spending needs took up most of every meeting. There was very little time for discussion and no overall plan to vote on until the last meeting. As a matter of fact, there was not a single vote taken by the whole commission on anything until the end. There is no way that such a process could have produced anything resembling a comprehensive, long-term plan. And, consequently, there wasn’t one; just a 30 billion dollar shopping list that was hurriedly rushed to voters. Influential big spenders wanted an off-election year vote and the election held at an odd time because that is how the special interests gain the upper hand. The special interests are the ones who will be at the receiving end of the 30 billion dollars. I suggest that you vote NO and decide for yourself how to so spend those dollars.

No on Prop 104

Prop 104: Wrong For Phoenix

By Shawnna L.M. Bolick
A Concerned Taxpayer with Children

Phoenix will be headed the way of Detroit if Phoenix voters aren’t prudent with our taxpayer dollars.

In August 2015, Phoenicians face a $31 BILLION DOLLAR TAX INCREASE if this behemoth of a proposition passes.

This proposal establishes light rail in suburban areas that won’t ever support such expansions and disrupt major arteries while they are laying track.

If there is something to learn from previous light rail construction, many small businesses went bankrupt or closed because they couldn’t sustain the road closures surrounding their businesses.

This proposed light rail project wildly benefits the fat cats of the City of Phoenix, not you and me. Even more devastating, small businesses would shoulder the brunt of this massive tax, not profitable corporations that might be able to afford $161 MILLION PER MILE to lay new track.

I think we can all agree that fiscal sanity needs to be restored at City Hall. Yet, these same politicians know from past experience that the timing of this August ballot measure is ripe to ask for a very large tax increase because a majority of registered voters either skip the off-year municipal election or have no idea an election is even taking place.

Do you want the city telling you or your grandchildren how to redirect your disposal income?

In order to keep Phoenix a world-class city, we need to ensure Proposition 104 fails at the ballot box.

Please join me in defeating this ill conceived tax scheme that further hampers our ability to invest resources where we deem fit.

Please make sure to vote NO on Proposition 104 (a.k.a. the train tax) this August.

 

Prop 104: A $31,500,000,000 Tax

By Matthew Kenney
Chairman, Taken for a Ride – No on Prop 104

The Taken for a Ride – No on Prop 104 committee was created to inform voters of the proposed $31,500,000,000 sales tax (Transaction Privilege Tax). The sales tax (Prop 104), if passed, is calculated to give Phoenix, Arizona one of the highest sales tax rates in the United States. If Prop 104 passes you would be paying almost the same sales tax rate as the billionaires in New York City.

I am a United States Army Veteran and when I returned from the battlefields in the Middle East, my hometown of Phoenix led the country in kidnapping and poverty. At a time when my commute times are below the national average, Phoenix’s murder, robbery, assault and overall crime rates were on the rise (latest 2012 statistics). Phoenix leaders have lost their focus – it’s about badges not buses – they are getting it wrong.

Prop 104 Train Wreck

The ballot language is deceptive in that it only shows a percentage of what the tax would increase to. It fails to show that the
government has stuck the taxpayers with these small percentages so regularly that the city has one of the largest taxes in the country.

The truth is that this will cost everyday Phoenicians $31.5 billion dollars.

Worst of all, while everyday Phoenicians and small business owners shoulder the 31.5 billion dollar tax burden, the mayor cut a deal with big business excluding all purchases above $10,000. Is that fair, it is just or is it just wrong?

I urge you to vote NO on Prop 104 for the sake of generations to come.

Prop 104: Money-Losing Rail Transit Won’t Stimulate Economy

By William O Sumner

Proponents of the proposed $31.5 billion transportation tax increase contend that it will more than pay for itself by stimulating economic growth. Figures as high as $7 gained for every dollar spent have been touted.

This is utter nonsense.

The $31.5 billion in taxes will be taken away from profitable uses in order to spend it on profitless transit. This will add an extra deadweight burden on the local economy.

It will lower standards of living below what could have been achieved if the money hadn’t been taxed away from its rightful owners.

It will decrease the number of job opportunities, as growing businesses lose resources they could have put into expanding and employing more workers.

Rather than pumping money into the economy, light rail will siphon tens of millions of dollars per year out of our economy in order to prop up deficit-ridden rail operations.

Sure, some people will get rich from this income transfer scheme. Construction firms that build the light rail will make money. Banks that float the loans to finance the upfront costs will earn millions in fees and interest. Real estate owners prescient enough to be located near rail stations will see a windfall return on their investment.

The big losers will be taxpayers who each will have to make do with less in order to fill the pockets of the fortunate minority who will benefit from this boondoggle.

Don’t fall for well-financed, slick arguments of the scam artists.

Vote NO.

Prop 104: Adding More Light Rail Will Worsen Traffic Congestion & Air Pollution

By Martha Moneypenney

The proponents of building more light rail portray it as a means of reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. A superficial assertion that every person riding the light rail is a person not driving a car implies that light rail must be reducing congestion.

This assertion is misleading. Granted, a person riding the light rail is not adding a car to the traffic mix. However, adding the light rail trains to the street traffic mix more than offsets the subtraction of automobiles.

Light rail tracks eliminate two lanes that autos might have used. Squeezing six lanes of traffic into four lanes inevitably slows traffic.

Light rail tracks block autos from turning left into businesses on the other side of the street. Complex maneuvers involving driving further down the street and executing a U-turn also slow down traffic.

The Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Project: Final Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Valley Metro ran computer simulations of traffic with and without light rail. Their finding was that adding light rail increased traffic congestion by almost 1%.

Now, increasing congestion by less than 1% isn’t much, but should we really spend billions to make congestion even a little bit worse?

The Valley Metro study also projected a small increase in air pollution from adding light rail to the transportation system. Again, this is a small impact, but do we really want to spend billions to make air pollution a little bit worse?

Time is our most precious resource. We shouldn’t be burdening taxpayers in order to build a rail system that will consume more of our time in traffic congestion. Neither should we be burdening taxpayers in order to build a system that will degrade our air.

Vote No on Prop 104.

Prop 104: Light Rail Reduces Transit Effectiveness

By: Howard Sprague

The notion that light rail makes a worthwhile contribution to the mobility of persons who depend on public transportation is erroneous. Light rail merely steals bus riders already using transit.

For the 10 years prior to the opening of rail service, bus ridership grew at an average rate of 5.6% per year. In 1997, there were 34.1 million passenger trips. In 2008, there were 61.9 million.

Since rail opened for business in 2009, total transit ridership growth has slowed to an average of 0.3% per year. In 2014, there were 72.1 million passenger trips on buses and trains combined. If previous rates of growth in bus travel had prevailed, there would have been 85.8 million passenger trips in 2014.

What happened? Well, the extraordinarily high cost of building light rail necessitated a reduction in funds available for bus service. Fewer buses could be supported.

Compared to buses, light rail serves a much smaller segment of transportation need. Buses can cover every corner of the city. Rail can cover only a few dozen miles in narrowly circumscribed corridors. Think of that.

Now it is touted that light rail will attract the white collar riders—the downtown crowd of bankers, lawyers, and corporate executives who won’t ride buses. This may be true, but why should the average taxpayer be forced to subsidize the rides of people who can easily afford their own transportation?

Does it make sense for people who depend on buses to have to walk further and wait longer in the burning sun just so the City can provide expensive rides for a few privileged individuals?

Vote No on Prop. 104.