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

Who Pays for Roads?

Many Americans believe that drivers pay the full cost of the roads they use through gas taxes and other user fees. That has never been true, and it is less true now than at any other point in modern times.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

The Innovative Transportation Index

This report reviews the availability of 11 technology-enabled transportation services – including online ridesourcing, carsharing, ridesharing, taxi hailing, static and real-time transit information, multi-modal apps, and virtual transit ticketing – in 70 U.S. cities. It finds that residents of 19 cities, with a combined population of nearly 28 million people, have access to eight or more of these services, with other cities catching up rapidly.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

New Report Ranks Phoenix And Other Major American Cities For High-Tech Transportation Options

A new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and the Frontier Group finds that Phoenix ties for 32nd among the nation’s 70 largest cities in terms of how many technology-enabled services and tools the city has to meet transportation needs.

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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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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Report Calls I-11 an Example of Wasteful Spending, Based on Outdated Assumptions

A new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund calls I-11 an example of wasteful highway spending based on its outdated assumptions of ever-increasing driving. The study points to data showing that the $2.5 billion proposed project is based on forecasts that are out of sync with current trends and that, at nearly all of the highway’s traffic counter locations, traffic growth has been slower than forecasted in project documents or has actually declined.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Guest Commentary: Arizona needs a 21st century public transportation system

For the first time, Arizona's State Transportation Board approved a state rail plan which includes connecting the major metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson by passenger rail. In a state known for its reliance on single-occupant vehicles and its lack of good public transportation, this is a crucial step forward for providing Arizonans with better transportation options.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

State Rail Plan approved; Arizona on track for passenger rail

Today leaders from the business community joined the Arizona PIRG Education Fund to celebrate the adoption of the State Rail Plan, which is the first-ever statewide plan for passenger and freight rail transportation in Arizona.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Fox 10 Phoenix: State Rail from Phoenix to Tucson?

The debate over high speed trains might be headed full speed toward Arizona. This is not a new idea for Arizona, but we're a step closer in a very long haul.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Cronkite News Service: Supporters celebrate board’s approval of passenger rail

A statewide rail plan that would start by linking Tucson and Phoenix is a step toward giving Arizona residents a transportation option that would relieve traffic congestion and improve air quality, an interest group contends.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Obama Budget Seeks Major Boost in Transportation Investment

Statement of Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, on the Obama administration’s FY 2012 transportation budget proposal, which includes a major increase in transportation funding and an $8 billion annual investment in high-speed rail.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Greasing the Wheels

In the wake of the Minnesota I-35 bridge collapse, there was enormous public outcry and recognition of the need to repair our crumbling infrastructure. Americans expected public officials to respond to the tragedy with a large scale effort to address the nearly 73,000 structurally deficient bridges in this country. The findings in this report suggest that did not happen.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Arizona and the Stimulus

June 29th, 2009 marks the 120-day deadline for Arizona and the other states to commit at least 50% of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA) $26.6 billion in transportation funds. It provides a vantage point to examine how states are using the money, with a particular focus on the $527 million apportioned to Arizona.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Private Roads, Public Costs

Road privatization is a growing issue in the United States as politicians and transportation officials grapple with budget shortfalls. Toll road privatization takes two forms: the lease of existing toll roads to private operators and the construction of new roads by private entities. In both instances, private investors are granted the right to raise and collect toll revenue, a right that can amount to billions of dollars in profits for the shareholders.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Arizona's New Frontier

Over the past few decades, Arizona’s population has skyrocketed. This population growth has not been matched by public transportation investment, and Arizona’s resulting dependence on cars is hurting the state. High and wildly fluctuating gas prices add to Arizonans’ economic woes, traffic congestion wastes valuable time and energy, and our cars and trucks produce pollution that harms Arizonans’ health and contributes to global warming.

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Report | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Economic Stimulus or Simply More Misguided Spending?

This fall, Congress asked states to submit lists of “ready-to-go” transportation infrastructure projects that could be funded by the stimulus package. Lists from nineteen state departments of transportation show that Congress, the Administration, and the states need to establish forward-looking rules for spending stimulus funds.

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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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