By Matthew Papke (Reposted from freeTempe.com)
Monday a transportation crisis was averted in Tempe Arizona. Throughout the previous week and leading up to the first day back to school many parents were faced with the unease of not knowing how their children would get to class. Could this have been avoided? What led to this near disaster?
A Bad Deal
In November of 2012 the Tempe City Council voted unanimously and without pubic debate to move Tempe’s bus services management contract from Veolia to Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA). In January the new transit agreement was signed without a minimum bus service requirement. This under sight is the reason for the near devastating Monday so many parents would have been affected by.
Culture of Compliance
Unlike our kitchen tables or work places, the Tempe City Council does not offer much in the way of discussion or debate. Speedily or perhaps hurriedly decisions are often voted on with super majorities in favor of almost every single measure that comes before the council. The RTPA contract was likely not read or fully understood by the Council for if it was it certainly would have had a clause to ensure minimum service requirements for our residents. It would seem they spent millions of your Tempe Tax dollars in minutes without READING THE FINE PRINT.
Council member Joel Navarro has been quoted as saying he was “Livid” at the lack of a minimum service requirement in the Tempe transit contract. “This is killing people,” Tempe City Councilman Joel Navarro said Friday. “We have tons of kids who take the buses to school. It can’t go to Monday.” The article went further on to state. “Navarro is livid that Tempe and Valley Metro Regional Public Transportation Authority officials put out a bid for a transit contract that did not require the company to provide minimum bus service.”
While NAVARRO’s fervor is welcomed, we should remind him that on November 15th, 2012 Council members Navarro along with Robin Arredondo-Savage, Onnie Shekerjian, Shana Ellis and Corey Woods, all voted in favor of moving the management of Tempe’s transit needs from Tempe to a regional resource the Planning (RTPA), this vote occurred without any debate on November 15th, 2012 AND COSTS TEMPE RESIDENTS OVER $10 MILLION A YEAR.
In January Shana Ellis was quoted saying “Tempe’s priority is to provide connectivity to our residents, students and regional visitors while we also protect and enhance our transit network.” I wonder if she knew at the time the transit contract did not contain a minimum service requirement.
The Bus stops here!
Had the council been brave or knowledgeable enough to ask then what they were asking yesterday, in the middle of a crisis, Then perhaps the entire “HOW AM I GOING TO GET MY KIDS TO SCHOOL” fiasco could have been averted.
Matthew Papke is a graduate of Corona del Sol, a Marine and current resident of Tempe Arizona. Matthew is also a filed candidate for Tempe City Council 2014. Please send any questions or comments to Matt@freetempe.com