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

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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Maricopa Association of Governments Urged to Adopt Safeguards for Privatization Deals

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund provided the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Transportation Policy Committee with privatization principles to protect the public interest in these deals as MAG entered into a policy discussion about public/private partnerships in the region.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Local Leaders Asked to Find Reliable Funding for Transit

At a recent Maricopa Association of Governments meeting, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund urged the local government leaders to find reliable sources of funding for transit so that Maricopa County residents can have transportation options.

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

Transit Service Cuts to Impact Valley Residents

Today marks the beginning of cuts to transit service in the Phoenix metropolitan area.  Light rail service will be less frequent during peak hours and peak hours are being reduced by two hours each day.  Bus routes also are being affected – some routes will have less frequent service and some are being eliminated altogether.

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News Release | Arizona PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Maricopa County Leaders Urged to Include More Transit in Plans

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) filed joint comments on the most recent Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) transportation plans.

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

Misplaced Highway Spending to Blame for Crumbling Roads and Bridges

According to Road Work Ahead: Holding Government Accountable for Fixing America’s Crumbling Roads and Bridges, a new report by the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, across the nation, drivers face more than 90,000 miles of crumbling highways and more than 70,000 decaying bridges.

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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. 

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

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