PIRG – Arizona Needs Passenger Rail

It’s been a while since we had much discussion about passenger rail around here. . Today, the Arizona PIRG put out the following press release. Take a look and let em’ know what you think.

Consumer Group to ADOT: Arizonans Need Passenger Rail

As the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) takes public comment on a proposed passenger rail line connecting Phoenix and Tucson, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, a statewide consumer group, urged ADOT to continue moving forward with the rail plans and provided the agency with a set of recommendations for the rail line.

“The congestion on Interstate 10 is already intolerable, and it’s only going to get worse, so we need to look to solutions like passenger rail,” said Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund.  “Arizona has talked about building passenger rail for decades. It’s time for Arizona’s leaders to make this train a reality.”

The Arizona PIRG Education Fund recommendations to ADOT on passenger rail included:

* Choosing a track alignment with the greatest ridership potential to maximize the value delivered by the investment.

* Selecting the right places for stations, where passengers have access to local public transit networks to complete their trip.

* Pricing passenger rail fares competitively with other modes of transportation in order to make it a reasonable transportation option.

The concept of passenger rail has strong public support in the Sun Corridor, as the collective area between Phoenix and Tucson is known. Public hearings held by ADOT on Phoenix-Tucson passenger rail in late 2011 revealed overwhelming support for a passenger train connecting Phoenix and Tucson; more than 75% of Arizonans who participated in the study said that they would prefer to travel by train than by any other mode of transportation. A recent poll conducted by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute of Public Policy said that a majority of Arizonans said that they would be likely to use a train.

“Right now Arizonans have a key opportunity to tell ADOT how much we need passenger rail connecting Arizona’s largest cities,” said Unrein. “With the population Sun Corridor expected to more than double by 2050, the debate isn’t about whether Arizona needs to build more transportation infrastructure, but about what kind of infrastructure makes the most sense for our future.”

The public can submit comments to ADOT online through December 15, 2012. ADOT also will be attending a number of public events this fall to gather comments.

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