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Monday, March 01, 2010

Phoenix announces cutbacks to light rail service

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

Only fourteen months after Phoenix Metro light-rail began rolling through the valley, City Manager David Cavazos is already taking dramatic steps to cut costs.

The cuts, which the Phoenix City Council will vote on Tuesday, could mean dramatic cutbacks during traditional rush-hour service. Trains currently run every ten minutes during peak rush hour traffic. Cutbacks in service could mean trains would come every twelve minutes, amounting to major inconvenience for some riders.

Light Rail
Valley Metro Light Rail facing cuts to service

The cutbacks would also effect weekend service, especially during the early morning hours and in the evening. City Manager David Cavazos says the cuts are necessary for the city to significantly trim operating costs, and the Phoenix City Council are likely to agree. However, efforts are being made by the council to preserve evening service.

Metro Light Rail operates twenty miles of track connecting the central Phoenix corridor with Cities of Tempe and Mesa. Tempe and Mesa have both experienced positive growth since the launch of the light rail, but many valley residents, and visitors alike, question the veracity of the some of the decision making. The 1.4 billion dollar rail system, which inexplicably by-passes Sky Harbor International Airport, has remained at the center of controversy, while racking up an alarming number of minor collisions with valley vehicles.

Still, supporters of the light rail are optimistic. Overall, service has been excellent and the light rail a success. Many see the cuts simply as a reflection of difficult economic conditions. The City of Phoenix is currently facing a $240 million deficit in its general fund, caused primarily by the downshift in the economy.

Hillary Foose, Public Information Officer for Metro acknowledged some changes would ultimately be necessary, but encouraged valley residents to participate in the process.
“Anytime you reduce service you impact rider-ship” stated Hillary, who was interviewed for this article. “We take this into account whenever making any changes.” Foose spoke at length about the actual process that goes into determining any changes, but reminds residents the process is open to public discussion.

“Metro currently has two meetings planned”, stated Foose when reached Monday morning. “The first meeting will be held Tuesday, March 2nd, and this is when we really need the input from the public. There are seven options posted on the Metro website, each listing the amount the option would save the budget”. Foose encourages anyone with an interest to visit the Phoenix Metro website and voice your opinion. The second meeting will be held some time next week.

Any changes would not take effect until July, 2010.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor

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