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

Blog Post | Transportation

Good Things Come to Those On Bikes | Sean Doyle

Pull the bike out of the closet, pump up those tires, and dust off the helmet because it's Bike to Work Week!

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Blog Post | Transportation

Don’t Believe the Hype – Millennials’ Transportation Habits Are Changing | Sean Doyle

Despite news stories claiming that Millennials are buying up cars at record rates, the reality is quite different. After adjusting previous studies to account for differences in the size of the generations measured, on a per-capita basis, Millennials are 29 percent less likely than members of Generation X to own a car.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Breaking the Silence on Transportation and the Climate

Transportation policy-makers in most states and at the federal level have simply never seen it as their business to consider, much less act to reduce, the climate impacts of their infrastructure investment decisions. The Obama administration’s actions last week, however tentative, suggest that that is about to change.

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Blog Post | Transportation

All Americans Deserve Clean Air to Breathe, On Earth Day and Every Day | Sean Doyle

U.S. DOT asks if we should measure global warming pollution from transportation.

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News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay, Transportation

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

Statement by Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, on todays announced VW settlement. For more details on what a strong settlement agreement ought to look like, please see the open letter that we released earlier this week with other consumer and environmental groups.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Flagstaff Transit Highlighted in New National Report

A new report by Reconnecting America highlights Flagstaff as one of 14 midsize cities in the country setting an example for the next generation of transit projects. Transit advocates celebrated the inclusion of Flagstaff’s Mountain Link bus rapid transit in the report.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Consumer Group to ADOT: Arizonans Need Passenger Rail

As the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) takes public comment on a proposed passenger rail line connecting Phoenix and Tucson, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, a statewide consumer group, urged ADOT to continue moving forward with the rail plans and provided the agency with a set of recommendations for the rail line.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Phoenix-Tucson Rail Creates Jobs, Save Millions

A new report released today by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund highlighted the benefits of connecting Phoenix and Tucson with passenger rail. The report, Connecting Phoenix and Tucson: The Benefits of Intercity Rail in the Sun Corridor, estimates that the economic benefits of intercity rail include: expanding labor market access for businesses, creating at least 30,000 job-years of employment, boosting local economies, and ensuring that the Phoenix-Tucson area remains attractive to young people, who increasingly prefer alternatives to driving.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Arizona Public Media: Arizonans Driving Less, Despite Population Gains

Americans are driving less for the first time since World War II, according to a new study from the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. In 2007, Arizonans drove more than 62 billion miles. Despite an increase in the state’s population, that figure decreased by almost three billion miles in 2010.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report: Long-Term Drop in How Much People Drive, Youth Desire More Transportation Options

A new report released by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. The report shows that young people in particular are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

A New Direction

The Driving Boom—a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States—is over. Americans drive fewer total miles today than we did eight years ago, and fewer per person than we did at the end of Bill Clinton’s first term. The unique combina­tion of conditions that fueled the Driving Boom no longer exists. Meanwhile, a new generation—the Mil­lennials—is demanding a new American Dream less dependent on driving.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Connecting Phoenix and Tucson

Over the past few decades, explosive population growth in Phoenix and Tucson has led the two cities to grow increasingly interconnected, socially and economically. It has also resulted in increasing traffic congestion problems, particularly on Interstate 10, which connects the two cities. With this growth expected to continue in years to come, Arizonans face a pressing need for improved transportation options. Passenger rail between Phoenix and Tucson can help meet the future transportation needs of the Sun Corridor.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Transportation & the New Generation

From World War II until just a few years ago, the number of miles driven annually on America’s roads steadily increased. Then, at the turn of the century, something changed: Americans began driving less. By 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004. The trend away from driving has been led by young people.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

High-Speed Rail: Public, Private or Both?

Private sector companies are likely to play a major role in the construction of high-speed rail lines in the United States. Public-private partnerships – or “PPPs” – have come to play an important role in the construction of high-speed rail lines around the world. The experience with high-speed rail PPPs, however, has been mixed.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Do Roads Pay for Themselves?

Highway advocates often claim that roads “pay for themselves,” with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering—or nearly covering—the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong.

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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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