Posts Tagged ‘Phoenix’

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.

Columbus Named Transportation ‘Pocket of Pain’

August 25, 2017

Columbus has been identified in a study as one of the nation’s most prominent “pockets of pain” when it comes to intercity public ground transportation.

The capital of Ohio made the list because of its lack of Amtrak service and express bus service.

It was joined up there by another state capital, Phoenix, which also lacks Amtrak service. Also on the list was Akron and Dayton.

Amtrak’s New York-Kansas City National Limited halted in Columbus and Dayton for the last time on Oct. 1, 1979. Megabus pulled out of Columbus this past Janauary.

The study was released by Chicago-based DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

It focused on large cities that lack rail and express bus connections to other major cities. Cities outside Ohio that also made the list were Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Fort Myers, Florida.

“Columbus has been cursed in terms of ground transportation, largely because of geography,” said Joseph Schwieterman, co-author of the study and director of the Chaddick Institute. “It’s a little far from cities such as Chicago and Washington to make bus service a good success.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • Cleveland-to-Columbus is the fourth-busiest route (ones with the most point-to-point travel) in the country that lacks both intercity express bus service and rail service.
  • Chicago-to-Columbus is the seventh-busiest such route.

“The study validates what we already knew: The central Ohio region does have gaps in ground transportation options for passengers connecting to other regions,” said William Murdock, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. “That is why we are working hard with our community partners across four states, including Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

“These efforts include a Columbus-to-Chicago passenger rail connection and the Midwest Connect Hyperloop Corridor (Pittsburgh to Chicago via Columbus), as well as (other) regional efforts.”

Last year Columbus won the national Smart City Challenge and was awarded $40 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation and $10 million by Vulcan Inc. Another $90 million has been pledged by a Columbus public-private partnership, bringing the total to $140 million.

That funding was not intended to go toward development of conventional rail or bus intercity service.

However, Schwieterman said the Smart City projects can only help.

“Innovation in urban areas could morph into providing true intercity service,” Schwieterman said. “It’s only a matter of time before services like Uber and Lyft start offering van service between cities, for example.”

He also believes the federal government should track ridership of private express bus services the way it does with airline passengers, to better understand the demand on various routes.

Schwieterman would like to see local governments encourage bus service by helping companies establish convenient curbside stops and providing incentives to renovate bus stations.

“Some people will consider an express bus, but are resistant to taking Greyhound,” Schwieterman said. “It’s a culture change.”

To see the study, go to http://bit.ly/2xd2LEb