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City plans to cut free downtown Phoenix DASH bus route

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix plans to downsize the free Downtown Area Shuttle’s bus routes on July 26, but a downtown business group is lobbying prevent some of the cuts.   Because of city budget reductions, the DASH will lose its “downtown loop,” which stops at or near many key downtown cultural attractions, including the Phoenix Convention Center, Heritage Square, hotels, and the Orpheum Theatre.  The more heavily-used “government loop” will continue.  It links the county government campus and the state government complex, which lie farther west.

The change will save Phoenix’s Public Transit Department $317,000 annually in its $175 million bus operations budget.  “When we cut there is a method to the madness.  We want to affect the least amount of people,” transit spokeswoman Yvette Roeder said.  The government loop had 459,984 boardings in fiscal 2009, city figures show, while the downtown loop had 71,266 boardings. A boarding is a one-way trip made by one rider.

The Downtown Phoenix Partnership wants the city to save at least part of the downtown loop, said David Roderique president and CEO of the business group. The partnership, which contributes $18,000 annually to the DASH, plans to meet with transit officials in a few weeks to discuss options, Roderique said.   [Note: Read the full article at City plans to cut free downtown Phoenix DASH bus route.]

City Council to scale back downtown Phoenix bus hours

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix plans to scale back evening hours for its free Downtown Area Shuttle, or DASH, as a business group gears up to launch an evening trolley service in the city’s core.  Beginning Dec. 29, all DASH buses will operate from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.  Since late July, bright green and blue buses on the system’s Downtown Loop had run until 8 p.m.

Connecting Central Station, sports venues, educational facilities, and the Roosevelt corridor, the Downtown Loop aimed to make it easier for people to get around to restaurants, bars and sporting and entertainment events after dark.  But a change in funding prompted the City Council last week to eliminate those evening hours.

The Downtown Phoenix Partnership, a group of downtown business and property owners who had been financing the extended hours, shifted that money to a downtown trolley service.  The group hopes to have the free trolley, similar to one in Scottsdale, running by Jan. 1.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix businesses may bankroll trolley service

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Like Scottsdale, Phoenix hopes a trolley is the ticket to downtown fun.  Surveys went out this week to gauge Phoenix business owners’ support for a late-night trolley that would take visitors to parking garages and to downtown nightspots.  It would be similar to the 22-seat, four-wheeled trolley that drives visitors around downtown Scottsdale.  Under the proposal, the trolley would makes stops at several businesses and two city parking garages, which would offer discounted evening fees.  The Downtown Phoenix Partnership plans to discuss the questionnaire’s results in a few weeks.

Shop owners hope that the trolley, which could cost $40 a week per business, could make downtown Phoenix more enticing for people who worry about parking or walking long distances, some say.  “We think that it could be a great selling tool for downtown Phoenix,” said Bill Smith, who owns several downtown restaurants.  While people could theoretically walk from a Dodge Theater show to Majerle’s Sports Grill, “the Phoenix market isn’t accustomed to that,” Smith added.  The buildings are roughly seven blocks apart.  The trolley would be bankrolled by several businesses and many details, including the final cost and the route, depend on how many shops participate, Smith said.

The talks come as the City Council voted to cut bus service after 10 p.m. and before 5 a.m. to save money.  The city must slash an estimated $250 million from its budget.  The free city-operated Downtown Area Shuttle, also known as DASH, stops running at 8 p.m.  The proposed downtown trolley could run as late as 2 a.m., when many bars close.  “If we stick with DASH it’s limited what we can do,” said Terry Madeksza, operations director for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.  “The ball is in our court.”  The goal is to have the trolley in place by Jan. 1, around the time that light-rail service begins, Madeksza said.  Metro officially begins service Dec. 27.

New DASH bus routes launched in downtown Phoenix

[Source: KPHO Television] — New DASH bus routes launched Monday morning in downtown Phoenix.  Marie Chapple with Phoenix Public Transit says the DASH downtown loop will now take them to the dining places and sports venues, including ASU.  “People used to going from the state Capitol to downtown Phoenix or into the city buildings will still be able to do that, they just won’t have to go as far as they used to,” Chapple said.  Basically, it’s from the state Capitol to the city and county buildings and into Central Station.”

Chapple said the downtown DASH loop used to run mostly at night and nobody was riding it.  The routes are now targeted to the daytime dwellers of downtown Phoenix.  “It’s a north-south loop and we think it’s going to work a lot better for who’s here during the day,” she said.

Mayor Phil Gordon said he will seek more money to keep the buses running past 8 p.m., and he may start thinking “outside the box.”  “[We should] look at bringing in some private vendors, particularly to tie together the Garfield, Roosevelt, the historic neighborhoods where there are a lot of restaurants, bars, and boutiques to the core downtown,” Gordon said. 

By early 2009, another 800 ASU students will be moving into downtown dorms.  The DASH buses are also sporting a new look.  Gone is the copper color.  The new buses are decked out in blue and green.

Check out new bus designs, submit your top downtown Phoenix spot, and win prizes

Old Dash...We Want New Dash!The Phoenix Public Transit Department is celebrating the upcoming July 28 launch of its new DASH routes and the bold, newly painted DASH buses by holding a contest that asks people to tell them their favorite places in Downtown Phoenix.  The contest begins at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 21 and ends at 11 a.m. Monday, July 28.  The department will post illustrations of the new bus paint schemes along with a contest ballot box at the courtyard kiosk at Central Station (Central Avenue and Van Buren Street).

People are encouraged to stop by the kiosk to check out the new bus paint schemes, which include bold new colors and decals of various activities available in Downtown Phoenix.  The decals portray all facets of downtown ranging from work and play to education and dining.  Some decals include a cupcake icon to represent bakeries, a bistro icon to represent restaurants, and music notes to represent musical attractions.

While checking out the new bus paint schemes, people can enter to win several Downtown Phoenix-themed prizes by simply submitting a favorite downtown restaurant, school, sports complex, cultural attraction, or retailer.  The contest is open to all ages, and participants need not be present to win but must include contact information on their entries to be eligible.  Submissions are limited to one per person, must be completed and submitted during regular business hours of operation (7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, closed Saturday and Sunday) and must be turned in no later than 11 a.m. on July 28.  [Note: For complete details, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix businesses suggest light rail, parking changes

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic, July 6, 2008] — If Phoenix wants its downtown nightlife to thrive, buses need to stay on the street long after sundown, several business owners say.  Bill Smith, who owns Bar Smith and other local restaurants, is a member of an alliance of bar, restaurant, hotel, and nightclub owners working on a couple of ideas to improve nighttime transit downtown.  For one, the group wants to talk to Valley Metro about light-rail hours.  Based on the latest schedule for the future transit line, light rail will operate from 4:40 a.m. to 11 p.m.  Valley Metro spokeswoman Hillary Foose said officials have not yet met with the business group.

Smith said another idea is to offer discount parking at a garage where people could hop onto a free shuttle to get to nighttime events.  Smith said parking costs are going up, too.  The situation has been complicated by construction for CityScape, a project that took over a parking lot once used by many customers of the Washington Street bars and eateries.

Nighttime transit became an issue last month after the City Council changed the Downtown Area Shuttle, the DASH.  Starting July 28, the bus will have two routes.  The “government loop” is similar to the existing route, running between downtown Phoenix and the state Capitol.  The “downtown loop” would go between schools, hotels, the biomedical campus, and some neighborhood destinations.  City Manager Frank Fairbanks said officials will have to figure out how routes could be changed.

Downtown Phoenix DASH may split service

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic, June 12, 2008] — After nearly two decades serving downtown, the DASH circulator is getting primed to split its service into two routes.  Following requests from the public, Phoenix’s transit staff is recommending that DASH take two routes.  One would be a “government loop,” similar to the existing route, running between downtown Phoenix and the state Capitol.  The other, a “downtown loop,” would transport riders between schools, hotels, biomedical campus, and neighborhood destinations.  “The separation of the single DASH day loop into two loops better serves downtown customers who are focused on going to government offices or to entertainment and education venues, but most often not both,” said Debbie Cotton, public transit director, in a memo to City Council.

The changes came after three open houses and a public hearing held to gather input on how DASH should change.  The city also posted various routing options on the Internet and asked for feedback.  The City Council’s transportation subcommittee approved the changes last week.  The full council learned about the changes Tuesday.  DASH operates Monday through Friday, with shuttles running every 12 minutes between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. After 6:30, DASH will run every 20 minutes until the close of service at 8 p.m.

Provide your feedback on downtown DASH routes

DASH (downtown Phoenix’s circulator bus) will hold the final of three public open houses at Phoenix City Hall on Wednesday, April 2, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to discuss potential routing improvements.  Then on Thursday, April 3, starting at 8:30 a.m. at 302 N. 1st Ave. (1st floor), a public hearing will be held to complete the public comment process.  Click here to view potential routing changes.  Any questions?  Contact Melissa Sweinhagen at 602-262-1823.

Downtown DASH to get makeover

[Source: EV Living] — Downtown Phoenix is growing and the long-time downtown circulator DASH is changing with it.  The City of Phoenix Public Transit Department is proposing a partial change to the DASH route and its frequency of service.  The new DASH routing will link it directly to light rail, scheduled to start in December 2008, and local and commuter buses that bring workers and students into the area.  According to city officials, all changes will be done within the current budget.  Also, the nine DASH buses are scheduled for a new paint job.

The public is invited to any of the following open houses to review the proposed changes:

  • February 26, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Central Station, Central Ave. and Van Buren.
  • March 19, 2 to 4 p.m., Phoenix Convention Center, 2nd St. and Adams.
  • April 2, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Phoenix City Hall, Washington and 3rd Ave.

A public hearing on the changes will be held before the Citizens Transit Commission on April 3 at 302 N. Central Ave. before a report goes to Phoenix City Council.  For more information, click here or call 602-262-7242.