Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Arizona’

Arizona Group Pushing Brightline-Type Service

December 23, 2018

An Arizona rail passenger advocate group is renewing its push to launch service between between Phoenix and Tucson by looking toward the private sector.

All Aboard Arizona is hoping to drum up interest in a Brightline type of rail commuter service between the state’s two largest cities as an alternative to driving on Interstate 10.

The group said the proposed service would cost $6 billion to develop. Money to pay for that would have to come from the state’s general fund because the Arizona Constitution prohibits funds raised by fees or taxes on motor vehicles from being used for any use other than streets and highways.

However, Anthony Trifiletti, the executive director of AAE, said the political climate in the state is hostile toward using money from the general fund for rail service, hence the effort to entice Brightline into the state.

Brightline operates rail service in Florida and has announced plans to develop a route between Las Vegas and Southern California.

“Our goal is to become the next one that they have an interest in, because this is something that can be done without state money,” Trifiletti said.

Trifiletti said a dedicated rail service would make the trip between Phoenix and Tucson in two hours, 15 minutes, which he said is competitive with driving and “a lot less stressful.”

Brightline officials plan to visit Arizona next spring to determine interest in offering rail service there.

The last rail passenger service between Phoenix and Tucson was Amtrak’s tri-weekly Sunset Limited.

Nos. 1 and 2 continue to service Tucson on their trek between New Orleans and Los Angeles, but were rerouted away from Phoenix to a more southerly route on June 2, 1996.

Amtrak operates a Thruway bus route between Phoenix and Maricopa, Arizona, that also stops in Tempe, a Phoenix suburb that is home to Arizona State University, and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

All Aboard Arizona has lobbied Amtrak to increase the frequency of the Sunset Limited to daily operation and to restore service to Phoenix.

The cost of upgrading the route between Maricopa and Phoenix has been estimated to be at least $500 million.

If Brightline were to show an interest in establishing service in Arizona, Tifiletti said it would take three years to get the trails rolling.