21st Century Transportation for Arizona

 

Arizona is experiencing a shift in how people travel. For almost a decade, Arizonans have been driving fewer miles per person, and we increasingly look to public transportation to get around.

Bikes, Trains and Less Driving

Research conducted by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund found that between 2006 and 2013, Arizona saw an 11.8 percent decline in annual vehicle miles traveled per capita; Arizonans drive fewer miles per person than we did in 1996; and despite increasing population, fewer Arizonans are living with cars. Driving miles per person are down especially sharply among Millennials – the generation that will increasingly dominate transportation trends and is already leading the trend toward greater ridership on public transit. 

When it comes to public transportation, transit agencies across our state are experiencing record ridership. In the Phoenix metro area, the light rail opened in late 2008 and is already experiencing ridership numbers that weren’t projected to be reached until the year 2020. Between 2007 and 2013, boardings on Valley Metro jumped from 58 million to more than 74 million. In July 2014, the Tucson Streetcar opened and 10 months later its 1 millionth passenger was celebrated. The Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority has seen ridership grow from under 200,000 in 2001 to more than 1.8 million in 2013. And in Yuma, ridership on Yuma County Area Transit has doubled since 2005.

With transportation dollars becoming scarcer, Arizona needs to shift its transportation priorities toward the maintenance and repair of our existing infrastructure and the expansion of public transportation choices.

To that end, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund is urging state and local officials to conduct the following:

> Get better data. Transportation agencies should compile and make available to the public more comprehensive, comparable and timely data to allow for better informed analysis of the causes and magnitude of changes in driving trends. Officials at all levels should eliminate inconsistencies in the reporting of transportation data, increase the frequency of surveys that shed light on changes in transportation preferences and behaviors, and use emerging new sources of information made possible by new technologies in order to gain a better grasp of how driving trends are changing and why. 

> Revisit transportation plans. Many existing transportation plans continue to reflect outdated assumptions that the number of miles driven will continue to rise steadily over time. Officials at all levels should revisit transportation plans to ensure that they reflect recent declines in driving and new understandings of the future demand for travel.

> Reallocate resources. With driving stagnating and demand for public transit, bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure increasing, officials should reallocate resources toward system repair and programs that expand the range of transportation options available to Arizonans.

> Remove barriers to non-driving transportation options. In many areas, planning and zoning laws and transportation funding rules limit public officials’ ability to expand access to transportation choices. Officials at all levels should remove these barriers and ensure access to funding for non-driving forms of transportation.

> Use innovative travel tools and services. New technologies and techniques provide transportation officials with new tools to address transportation challenges. Transportation agencies should encourage the use of carsharing, bikesharing and ridesharing and provide real-time travel information for public transit via smartphone. 

Issue updates

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 4

America’s infrastructure is in rough shape. Many of our roads, bridges and transit systems are aging and in need of repair.

Yet, year after year, state and local governments propose billions of dollars’ worth of new and expanded highways that often do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from infrastructure repairs and 21st century transportation priorities. 

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Blog Post | Transportation

Statement regarding Governor Ducey’s Plan for VW Settlement Funds | Diane Brown

While we appreciate that Governor Ducey’s plan dedicates the majority of the VW Settlement Funds to replacing dirty, old school buses, the plan can and should be improved. Read our suggestions.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Buses

Buses play a key role in in our nation’s transportation system, carrying millions of children daily to and from school and moving millions of Americans each day around our cities. Buses reduce the number of individual cars on our roads, make our communities more livable and sustainable, and provide transportation options for people of all ages and abilities.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

An Analysis of the Volkswagen Settlement

Volkswagen vehicles emitted pollutants by as much as 40 times the legal limit. Arizonans who thought they were driving cleaner cars were actually pouring huge amounts of pollution into our air every time they drove.  It is critical that 100% of the funds be invested in the cleanest options available. 

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Blog Post | Transportation

A New Way Forward: Envisioning a Transportation System without Carbon Pollution | Diane E. Brown

A new report from Frontier Group, A New Way Forward: Envisioning a Transportation System without Carbon Pollution, highlights that in order to tackle carbon pollution, there needs to be a transformation in how we move people and goods in, through and between our cities. The good news is that the last decade has seen an explosion of new technologies and the emergence of new innovations that can contribute to a solution.

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Media Hit | Transportation

You can weigh in on Phoenix-Tucson rail

Arizonans increasingly are moving away from driving and seeking alternatives, said Serena Unrein, public interest advocate at the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG. An option such as the Phoenix-Tucson passenger rail could be an important resource for Arizonans looking for alternative travel methods, she said.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: University Campuses Are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving

As Millennials lead a national shift away from driving, higher education institutions like Arizona State University and the University of Arizona are giving students new options for getting around and becoming innovators in transportation policy.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New "Urban Streets" Guide Could Help Arizona Become More Walkable, Livable

In Phoenix the National Association of City Transportation Officials unveiled its new Urban Street Design Guide, a handbook that can help Arizona’s cities make their streets better for people and business.  The guide recommends that cities treat streets as public spaces for people of all ages and abilities and design streets to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users in addition to motorists.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Study Finds Technology Enabling People to Drive Less

In a first-of-its-kind study, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund compiled evidence on transportation apps and vehicle sharing programs and found that these advanced new tools have made it easier for Arizonans to drive less.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: Reduction in Driving Likely to Continue

As the average number of miles driven by Americans heads into its eighth year of decline, a new report from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund finds that the slowdown in driving is likely to continue. The report, A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future, noted that demographic changes will likely keep driving down for decades.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles

Even though the Driving Boom is now over, state and federal governments continue to pour vast sums of money into the construction of new highways and expansion of old ones – at the expense of urgent needs such as road and bridge repairs, improvements in public transportation and other transportation priorities. Eleven proposed highway projects across the country – slated to cost at least $13 billion – exemplify the need for a fresh approach to transportation spending.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Bikes, Trains and Less Driving

Arizona, like the rest of America, is experiencing a shift in how people travel. The Driving Boom – a six decade-long period of steady increase in per-capita driving across the United States – is over. Driving miles per person are down especially sharply among Millennials, America’s largest generation that will increasingly dominate transportation trends. Since 2005 Arizonans have been driving fewer miles per person, and they increasingly look to public transportation to get around.

> Keep Reading
Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Course

Universities and colleges across the country are taking steps to encourage their communities, students, faculty and staff to decrease their reliance on personal vehicles. These efforts are working well – saving money for universities, improving the quality of life in college towns, and giving today’s students experience in living life without depending on a personal car.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Way to Go

Over the last 15 years, the Internet and mobile communications technologies have transformed the way Americans live and work. During that same period, growth in vehicle travel slowed and then stopped, with Americans today driving about as much on average as we did in 1996.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Moving Off the Road

After sixty years of almost constant increases in the annual number of miles Americans drive, since 2004 Americans have decreased their driving per-capita for eight years in a row. This report for the first time presents government data on state-by-state driving trends. It analyzes which states drive more miles per-person, which states have reduced their driving the most since the end of the national Driving Boom, and how state changes in driving behavior correspond to other changes such as growing unemployment or urbanization.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Time for ADOT to Move Forward with Transportation Options Arizonans Want | Diane E. Brown

While ADOT has made some good transportation strides in recent years, Arizona PIRG has a vision for our transportation system that differs from that of ADOT’s.

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Blog Post | Transportation

A Trillion Fewer Driving Miles? | Jason Donofrio

It’s now common knowledge that annual changes in the volume of driving no longer follow the old ways. In July 2012, Americans clocked over 258 billion miles behind the wheel, a billion fewer miles than the previous July despite a slightly stronger economy and cheaper gasoline.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

The Ready to Charge fact sheet by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group emphasizes that Arizona needs more charging capacity to support electric vehicle adoption and notes policies that can help promote EV adoption: expand public charging capacity, make EV chargers more accessible by increasing interoperability, and increase the visibility and price transparency of public charging stations.

News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

As state and national policymakers seek solutions to improve infrastructure, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group’s new report, Transform Transportation, provides a roadmap the organizations say will “steer Arizona towards transportation options to save consumers money and protect public health”.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

By rebuilding our transportation system to give more people the option to spend less time in a car, by expanding access to active means of travel such as walking and biking, and by adopting zero-emission electric cars and buses, we can make our transportation safer, healthier, cleaner and more efficient.

Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund

Electric utilities have a lot to gain from the large-scale adoption of electric school buses, and could play a major role in supporting the transition. Electric buses can expand and stabilize the grid, provide surplus energy storage, and increase energy demand. By providing discounted rates on electric bus charging and building charging infrastructure, utilities can help speed the adoption of electric buses. Utilities can also support electric buses by investing in infrastructure for bus charging in depots and on routes, helping to finance the upfront purchasing costs of electric buses, and introducing smart charging systems to maximize integration of renewable energy. 

Blog Post

From mask mandates to capacity limits, the largest public transit systems and ride share companies have new procedures

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