With gas prices pinching all of us, it's good to know that some communities are taking bold steps to give their residents options for getting out of their cars and into public transportation.
Today it can cost upwards of $50 to fill up your tank, so we need more and better transit options to help us save money for life’s priorities instead of putting it into the gas tank.
During his visit to Maricopa County yesterday, Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff rode light rail to Tempe and Mesa with Congressman Ed Pastor and met with Mayors Phil Gordon of Phoenix, Hugh Hallman of Tempe, and Scott Smith of Mesa.
He also saw first-hand how planned transit projects throughout the Phoenix area will improve connections between the region's roadways, the Central Mesa Light Rail corridor, and the major activity centers of downtown Phoenix, downtown Tempe, Arizona State University, and Sky Harbor International Airport.
These are the places area residents, business travelers, and tourists need to go, and the region's transit planners are working hard to get them there safely. For example, during events at the US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix, event tickets also serve as transit passes--when you buy your ticket, you've already bought your ride.
This new line is in addition to the existing Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail project, which opened in 2008. The FTA provided $587 million for the existing project and its extensions--including $36 million from the Recovery Act--and that investment is estimated to have spurred more than $5 billion in economic development along the corridor. Ridership continues to exceed expectations.
Continuing to invest wisely in Maricopa County transit facilities will ensure that Arizonans and their children have good transportation options for generations to come.
This is what our FTA is all about--connecting people to jobs, schools, downtown areas, and the essential services they need like medical care and groceries. And as gas prices continue to batter our wallets in these already challenging economic times, giving people car-free options to get where they need to go only becomes more important.
President Obama said that for America to compete and win in the 21st century, we have to out-innovate and out-build the rest of the world. The people of Phoenix, Maricopa County, and Arizona are doing both.