[Source: Sean Holstege, Arizona Republic, March 30, 2009] — Maybe you’ve heard of Tax Freedom Day, theoretically the date when Americans have worked enough to pay off their tax burden for the year. Researchers have now come up with Transportation Freedom Day, the date when an average household has paid off its annual costs of getting around in a particular city. For metro Phoenix, that day fell on March 23, but it’s different for each city in the region and across the country. Tempe residents cleared the typical cost of car payments, insurance, gas, repairs, and transit use on March 18. Residents in New River will keep paying until April 9.
Phoenix is in the middle of the pack for U.S. metro areas. Cheapest are San Francisco, with a March 1 freedom day, and New York (March 7). Tucson (March 30) is near the bottom.
The findings are based on research from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, an Illinois think tank that advocates sustainable urban development. Generally, cities with the most density, shortest commutes and most transit options fared best. People in far-flung suburbs generally fare the worst. [Note: To read the full article and online comments, click here.]
[Source: Glen Creno, Arizona Republic] — The Valley’s about-to-open light-rail system has people taking sides. Some complain that the $1.4 billion Metro light rail is a waste of money. Others are practically counting the days until the Dec. 27 launch. Those who get riled say the money would be better spent on freeways. Others say it will deliver crime along with passengers. Enthusiastic backers say it’s a missing piece of a transportation system too dependent on driving. It will attack congestion as people ride rather than drive to work, school, or entertainment spots.
Put Robert Munoz of Mesa in the split-opinion category. He lives near the end of the line and has some worries that the system will transport criminals to his neighborhood. But he also likes the idea of walking to a train and riding to Chase Field. “If my son and I get a couple of tickets, we can hit the Diamondbacks game,” Munoz said. “We don’t have to worry about driving, traffic or parking.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
Business, government, and civic leaders keep talking about creating sustainable communities, and some of the big components are: having a mix of transportation options, connecting land use and transportation systems so Arizonans have a way to connect housing with jobs, schools, etc., and preserving open space.
The State Transportation Board will host public hearings in June to invite public comments on a statewide transportation program developed by the Arizona Department of Transportation collaboratively with regional and local transportation partners from across the state. Click here to preview and download a document that outlines a transportation program that would be funded through a ballot initiative filed by the TIME (Transportation and Infrastructure Moving Arizona’s Economy) Coalition.
The Phoenix public hearing will be held Wednesday, June 11, 5-7 p.m., Phoenix Convention Center West 106 B and C Meeting Rooms, 100 N. 3rd St. For more information on the hearings, to provide comments, or for general information, click here.
If you can’t make this meeting and you still want to know more about why transportation is an important issue, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is willing to host a public event in July. According to Teresa Brice, LISC Executive Director, “If this makes it on the ballot in November, we should know what we are voting on. If we are going to be taxed to support it, we should know what we are getting and how we can influence future projects.” If interested in participating in a July event, contact Teresa by e-mail or 602-252-6313.