Mike Branom of the East Valley Tribune wrote a very interesting article recently titled; What next for light rail? Let arguing start – (yes, I was extremely grateful for the mention but, that's not really the subject of this post) In the article Mike points out the power that the City of Phoenix has in making decisions concerning the future of the proposed fare increase which is on the table. It was mentioned that Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman has proposed looking in to merging Metro (light rail) and Valley Metro (buses, local and express; and dial-a-ride) to try and save tax payers a couple million a year. The article goes on to mention that "A vote was taken whether to study the idea: Everyone was in favor, except Phoenix. Because that city has a vote weighted to 50 percent, the nay had it. And that was that. (Phoenix has, by far, the most track and investment)
From what I recall of the proposed fare hikes, the City of Phoenix has already voted in favor while I believe the city of Tempe is in opposition. I'm not clear on Mesa's position but I have been in contact with James Tevault who is familiar with Mesa's economic and tourism departments. While neither James or I are sure of Mesa's position on the fare increase, we did talk of possible benefits of an extension of light rail down Main street. "It has to be Main Street" said Tevault, "they have tried everything for the last 20,30,40 years" to re-energize downtown Mesa and nothing has worked. There are some great art museum's, hotels, attractions and plenty of potential but not enough traffic.
This brings me back to more questions:
Will a potential decrease in ridership due to fare increase hinder future expansion?
Will people lose interest in the new system if it is not as "affordable?"
Is $5.00 really too much for an all day pass? (other cities are $4, $5, $6)
Who should have the final say? How is it really determined?
With the ridership numbers as strong as they are and the economic activity along the line as strong as it appears, what do you think is the best choice? Do you agree with Phoenix? Do you agree with Tempe? Do you just agree to disagree all together? Who knows…
One thing for sure, we will hear a decision on the rate increase soon.