In case you missed it, the Arizona Republic had an extensive update on the Light Rail system yesterday and the plans for the future extensions in Phoenix and in Mesa. Mesa is moving forward with the ground breaking on their extension and Phoenix is expected to vote on theirs next month. Though the lines and the phasing have changed to adjust with the economy, one thing is for certain, the constant leadership and cooperation among our local leaders is the key reason for light rail’s success.
Former Mayor Skip Rimsza should be commended for his dedication and drive to make his light rail vision a reality. Former Mayors Phil Gordon and Keno Hawker should be praised for their vision of building a multi-modal system that matched transit needs with performance measures. Kudos are also in order for Mayors Greg Stanton and Scott Smith for seeing that light rail is working and leading the charge on the first round of extensions.
When we worked on Proposition 400, we explained time and again that second only to completing the freeway system, extending the light rail system was the top priority amongst voters “ especially in the central region. The Transportation Policy Committee wisely put performance measures in place to ensure that transit was working like it was supposed to “ and guess what? The audits show that light rail continues to exceed expectations including 13.2 million riders in 2011. There are still some folks around who have it out for light rail, but most have come to the realization that it is a critical part of the regional transportation system.
The good people at Maricopa Association of Governments, Valley Metro RPTA, Friends of Transit, and countless others have helped the system grow into a tremendous asset for our region. From the success of the ASU Downtown campus to the bright future of the Mesa Center for Higher Education, light rail will play a critical role in our long term drive to provide the educated students we need to maintain a competitive economy.
With critical projects such as the South Mountain Freeway, the I-11, and others coming up in the near future, we hope that our leaders will continue to show the same determination and cooperation to come together for the long-term good of our region.