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.

Prop 104: Rail Transit Won’t Revitalize the Urban Core

By Juan Saldana

The biggest pipe dream advanced by the proponents of this $31 billion tax increase is that building more light rail tracks is an effective way of achieving urban “in-fill.” The notion that all prospective land owners are waiting for a few more miles of expensive and slowmoving trains before they upgrade their properties is ludicrous.

Aside from some limited improvements to structures near the train stops, the vast majority of the real estate near the first 20 miles of light rail track remains rundown. If the first 20 miles couldn’t rescue these eyesores, why should we expect the next 20 miles to do the trick?

Rehabilitating urban property requires money. Unfortunately, light rail doesn’t generate income for most property owners. Quite the contrary. During the construction the streets in front of businesses will be torn up for a lengthy period, making it hard for customers to get in to buy anything.

Some businesses won’t survive the construction phase. Those that do will mostly see fewer customers return, since the tracks will prevent left turns into the businesses. The loss of lanes for automobiles will add to traffic congestion—further deterring customers.

If the City were serious about revitalizing the urban core, it would opt for a more efficient means of accomplishing this—like giving small businesses in the core area a tax holiday. This would allow them to keep more of the money they earn. Businesses already in the area would be more likely to thrive. Others would be drawn to the area by the improved net income they could obtain.

If we really want to revitalize the urban core we should reject hiking taxes to fund a lame railroad and pursue sounder methods.

Vote NO.

Proposition 104 Benefits Insiders and Special Interests at Taxpayers Expense

By Scot Mussi

If you only listened to supporters of Proposition 104, it would be difficult to know what the 30 billion dollar transit tax initiative is really about. Even the ballot language written by the city tries to hide the fact that Prop 104 nearly DOUBLES the transit sales tax over the next 35 years, a multibillion dollar tax hike to fund light rail expansion that Phoenix residents can ill afford.

But the massive tax hike is only one of the reasons why Prop 104 should be rejected by Phoenix voters. As written, Prop 104 is a blank check for City Hall that allows insiders and politically connected special interests to cash in on the new transit tax. In fact, the dirty secret about this initiative is that they are not required to build any of the projects they are promising in the transit plan.

For example, the city could decide after its passage to cancel all new road projects and use the money to construct more light rail. Or City Council could approve a costly new trolley or train system that leaves the road you take to work under construction for the next five years. Entire sections of the city could lose out on transit funding to politically connected insiders at City Hall. How the money is spent will be up to the politicians to decide, not you.

The lack of transparency and accountability tied to this tax increase was by design. They could have included protections on how the money was spent or oversight to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. They chose not to, because the City wants your money but with no corresponding strings attached.

Phoenix residents should oppose this giveaway and vote NO on Prop 104.

Sal DiCiccio: Phoenix Light Rail Will Take Money Away From Education

Recently, I appeared in an interview by the Legal Broadcast Network in which I discuss the Phoenix light rail fiasco. I’d like to share a portion of that interview so Phoenicians can understand what’s at stake in the August election and the enormity of this boondoggle.

The cost to build one mile of freeway is about $56 Million. Compare that to the cost to build one mile of light rail. As staff revealed, Phoenix taxpayers would spend $161 MILLION per mile for this monstrosity. That is almost three times the cost to move far fewer people than what a freeway moves.

And if you look at the number of users who actually use light rail, it’s about one half of one percent of our population. Putting that in perspective, its equivalent to the amount of people who drive down the street in front of your home.

For this $31.5 BILLION proposal, the City of Phoenix could buy 2.2 Million Smart Cars! That is every man, woman and child who could use one of these eco-friendly cars.

Remember, the same people who brought us the downtown Sheraton Hotel at a total loss of $130 Million, now want us to pay for another massive taxpayer $31.5 BILLION boondoggle.

At a time when we need more money going into our education system this takes money away from that priority. Every dollar going into this $161 Million/mile train system is a dollar not going to our children’s education.

Costs and Tax Increase are a Train Wreck for Phoenix Transportation Plan

MBQF

Sticker Shock Drives Phoenicians Opinions Over Proposed Light Rail Expansion – Voters Favor Other Public Priorities

(Phoenix, AZ) — MBQF, a public opinion survey consulting firm, announced today the results of a recent public opinion survey conducted on March 5, 2015.  Although the results from the automated telephonic survey show likely Phoenix City voters give initial grudging support toward a light rail and transportation expansion plan – Phoenix voters quickly reverse course once educated about the potential costs and a tax increase.  Voters appear to remain skeptical over light rail for other priorities.

In the most recent automated telephonic survey of 580 likely Phoenix City voters, the survey calculates a 4.04% theoretical margin of error, plus or minus in percentage points, 95% of the time.  54.4% of respondents were women while 45.6% were men.

Almost two-thirds of respondents believe their tax-money should be prioritized elsewhere when asked,  “NOW, do you feel the city of Phoenix should prioritize transportation and spend $33 Billion dollars over the next 35 years that includes a proposed light rail expansion or do you believe the $33 billion dollars could be best spent in other areas such as education, public safety, police and fire, and health and disability services.”

Press 1 if you believe that the light rail and transportation is the best investment    34.83%

Press 2 if you believe that the money would be best used for other public needs      65.17%

Michael Noble concluded, “When 2/3 of voters agree on a spending issue, policy makers ought to take heed.  They are the type of numbers that are usually followed by a voter initiative.”
For more information about this survey, or a summary of topline data and wording, please contact MBQF Consulting. The margin of error for this survey is +/-4.04%.

Script

Hello, we are doing a brief survey on current issues within the City of Phoenix.  Some elected officials are considering spending tax dollars on transportation and we would like to ask your thoughts on these important issues.  Your name was selected at random and your responses are completely confidential.

1. Are you aware that the City of Phoenix has proposed spending $33 billion dollars over the next 35 years to triple the ridership of the current light rail and expand the transportation system?

Press 1 if you are aware     71.9%
Press 2 if you have never heard of it      22.24%
Press 3 if you are unsure    5.86%

2. Supporters of this potential light rail expansion argue that the plan would also expand bus services and improve or fix the city’s aging street system. Do you agree or disagree with these priorities?

Press 1 if you agree        53.79%
Press 2 if you disagree    46.21%

3. Are you aware that if the proposed light rail transportation expansion is approved it would increase Phoenix sales taxes by 15% and cost $161 Million per mile to build and operate? Would this information make you more likely or less likely to support the transportation expansion?

Press 1 for More Likely                  26.72%
Press 2 for Less Likely                   63.45%
Press 3 if it makes no difference     9.83%

4. NOW, do you feel the city of Phoenix should prioritize transportation and spend $33 Billion dollars over the next 35 years that includes a proposed light rail expansion or do you believe the $33 billion dollars could be best spent in other areas such as education, public safety, police and fire, and health and disability services.

Press 1 if you believe that the light rail and transportation is the best investment    34.83%
Press 2 if you believe that the money would be best used for other public needs    65.17%

5. If you were running the City of Phoenix, please tell me what you personally believe is the most important public priority as a taxpayer.   Would you invest tax dollars in Public Safety, Education, Disability services, expansion of the light rail or improvement of freeways/roads?

Press 1 for Public Safety   18.97%
Press 2 for Education        33.97%
Press 3 for Disability services   4.14%
Press 4 for expansion of the light rail    13.28%
Press 5 for repairing and improving current freeways and roads    19.48%
Press 6 if you are unsure   10.17%

6.  Leading the charge for the light rail transportation expansion is current Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, while the primary opponent of the light rail transportation expansion is Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. Based on this, whose leadership do you most trust with your tax money?

Press 1 for Greg Stanton      35.17%
Press 2 for Sal DiCiccio        37.59%
Press 3 if you have no opinion at this time      27.24%

7.  Press 1 if you are Male          45.6%
Press 2 if you are Female      54.4%

Thank you for your time.