Phoenix Valley Bus Riders Down 10 Million from Prior Year

Arizona Republic:  “In the last fiscal year, 10 million Valley Metro fares were lost as bus riders returned to their cars or found other forms of transportation, according to figures released by the agency that oversees public transit throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area.”

When the economy sours and there is an increase in the number of people who lose their jobs, the laws of economics dictate that the number of bus riders should go up if all other important factors stay the same.  One important factor that probably created the loss in riders is that Valley Metro has cut bus service.  It’s simple math to figure out that if fewer buses are making fewer runs, the number of riders will decrease.

If you buy that argument, then when light rail cuts its services should the number of riders increase or decrease?  According to the same story, the number of light rail riders increased during the same period bus riders decreased.  One reason for the difference is that the bus system suffered much greater cut backs in service than the favored light rail.

A problem with determining the numbers of light rail riders is that the Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa light rail does not count riders as they board the train.  Valley Metro, the outfit that runs the light rail, estimates the number of riders because unlike the buses where riders have to give a ticket or money to the driver, nobody checks tickets on the light rail.  During the first year of its operation, Arizona State University purchased 35,000 passes for its students.  Valley Metro had no way of counting the number of riders using ASU passes so it just assumed a number and pretended like that number of people rode the light rail during the weeks school was in session.

See “Phoenix Plans to Cut Light Rail Service to Lose More Money.”

Idiots Planning to Spend $200 Million Government Doesn’t Have to Expand Light Rail in Mesa

The Phoenix Business Journal reports that the people who like to spend other people’s money are planning a $200 million dollar 3.1 mile extension of the 20 mile light rail line that ends in Mesa, Arizona.  These people are unaware of or simply don’t care about Mesa’s deficit financial condition and the reality of light rail and public transportation life as evidenced by the following stories:

Update:  “Feds OK design work for rail extension in Mesa – 3-mile Mesa extension can now move forward.”

Tempe Forced to Spend Mega Millions It Doesn’t Have to Fix Empty Lake

Arizona Republic:  “The cash-strapped city is considering three long-term solutions that could cost as much as $84 million. . . . Whatever the price, Tempe officials say they have no choice but to honor their long-term contractual commitments for the lake and to the commercial and residential developments around it.

Phoenix Cuts Bus & Light Rail Service

Arizona Republic:  “Across the Valley, nine bus routes will be eliminated, including two local routes, three express routes and four neighborhood circulators. . . . The light-rail system also is reducing service for the first time since opening in late 2008. Peak hours will be shortened, and during that time Metro will run trains every 12 minutes instead of every 10.”

Mystery California Train – a High Speed Rail Black Hole  “How has California’s high-speed rail project survived for 14 years without a plan, a budget, or a single accomplishment? . .  If you were looking to take some easy shots at government waste and abuse, you’d have a hard time topping California State Auditor Elaine M. Howle’s recent assessment of the Golden State’s 14-year-old high-speed rail project.  Since 1996—twice as long as the Transcontinental Railroad took from approval to completion in the 1860s—the bullet train project has cost taxpayers more than $250 million, yet not one millimeter of track has been laid. . . .the bullet train is the centerpiece in President Barack Obama’s national rail plan. . . . the Authority has done no research on the project’s potential revenue, including such no-brainers as an analysis of ridership on existing high-speed trains.  the bullet train is a case study in the immortality of a bad idea.

Facts reported in the California State Auditor’s audit:

  1. It’s CEO makes $375,000-a-year
  2. Federal government will pay $2.5 billion in federal funds to build the high speed rail
  3. California voters approved $9 billion in bond funds to build the high speed rail
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