5:30 PM: Transit Expansion

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On October 24th the City of Phoenix will launch the first citywide transit improvement resulting from the voter-approved Transportation 2050 plan. The improvements include adding three hours of bus service, seven days a week, to all local routes that service Phoenix, as well as ensuring that all local routes have a frequency of 30 minutes or less, no matter where or when they run in the city. Transit Director Maria Hyatt will fill us in.

TED SIMONS: AND A NEW REPORT FROM THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL BASTS THE PHOENIX VA HOSPITAL AGAIN. THE REPORT SAYS NEARLY TWO YEARS AFTER REFORMS WERE PUT IN PLACE VETERANS ARE STILL WAITING TOO LONG FOR CARE AND IN ONE CASE THE REPORT SAID A VETERAN WHO DIED MAY HAVE BEEN SAVED HAD HE RECEIVED APPROPRIATE AND TIMELY CARE. THE VA HAD NO COMMENT ON THE REPORT.
 
TED SIMONS: WELL, STARTING OCTOBER 24TH THE CITY OF PHOENIX WILL ROLL OUT IMPROVEMENTS TO ITS TRANSIT CENTER COMING AFTER VOTERS APPROVED A MASSIVE TRANSIT PLAN KNOWN AS T-2050. THE CITY OF PHOENIX'S TRANSIT DIRECTOR, MARIA HYATT IS HERE. OCTOBER 24TH, PHOENIX TRANSIT IMPROVEMENT. WHAT IS GOING ON?

MARIA HYATT: IT IS A BIG DAY FOR US. WE TALKED TO THE VOTERS BEFORE THE ELECTION, WHICH WAS IN AUGUST OF 2015, ABOUT WHAT THEY WANTED AND THEY TOLD US THEY WANTED MORE FREQUENT SERVICE, LATER HOURS, AND THEY WANTED THOSE LATER HOURS SO THEY COULD GET TO WORK. SECOND AND THIRD SHIFT WORKERS. TODAY OUR BUS SERVICE DOESN'T ALLOW THEM TO GET WHERE THEY NEED TO GO BECAUSE WE STOP SERVICE AT 11:00 AT NIGHT. OCTOBER 24TH WE WILL ADD THREE HOURS TO EVERY BUS DURING THE DAY IN PHOENIX. SO THAT IS AN HOUR EARLIER AND TWO HOURS LATER. BUT THAT IS JUST THE FIRST STEP. OCTOBER IS THE FIRST ONE. WE FOLLOW-UP IN APRIL AND IN APRIL WE WILL EQUAL LIGHT RAIL HOURS.

TED SIMONS: INTERESTING. THREE HOURS OF BUS SERVICE SEVEN DAYS A WEEK?

MARIA HYATT: SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

TED SIMONS: WHAT ABOUT THE FREQUENCY OF THE BUS ROUTES?

MARIA HYATT: THE FREQUENCY, ABOUT 30% OF THE ROUTES ARE 15 MINUTES OR LESS WHICH IS NOT BAD. THAT IS WHAT OUR PASSENGERS ARE LOOKING FOR. THEY WANT TO NOT HAVE TO GUESS WHEN THE NEXT SERVICE IS COMING. PLUS, WITH THE OCTOBER SERVICE CHANGES NOT A SINGLE BUS WILL BE MORE THAN 30 MINUTES. SO TODAY, ON SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS THERE ARE 18 ROUTES WHERE IF I GO OUT THERE AND I MISS THE BUS BY FIVE MINUTES I AM WAITING 55 MORE MINUTES TO GET ON THE BUS. SO THAT WILL BE GONE. ALL BUSES WILL BE 30 MINUTES OR LESS.

TED SIMONS: AGAIN, STARTS OCTOBER 24TH. WHAT ABOUT DIAL-A-RIDE, EXPANSION AT ALL?

MARIA HYATT: EXACTLY. SO WE MATCH LIGHTRAIL AND BUS WITH OUR DIAL-A-RIDE SERVICE. IT IS EQUAL SERVICE, IT IS COMPLIMENTARY SERIVE. IT IS REQUIRED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND PROVIDES SERVICE FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT ABLE TO RIDE THE BUS OR TRAIN TO GET WHERE THEY NEED TO GO. THEY NEED TO BE ADA CERTIFIED, AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, AND THEY GO TO A CENTER AND GET CERTIFIED AND THEN THEY ARE ABLE TO RIDE THE TRANSIT. PICKS YOU UP AT YOUR DOOR, TAKES YOU TO WHERE YOU NEED TO GO.

TED SIMONS: I THINK EVERYONE HEARS ABOUT THE DIAL A RIDE SERVICE BUT ARE NOT SURE HOW IT WORKS. IT MUST BE A VERY BUSY SERVICE.

MARIA HYATT: IT IS BUSY BUT WE TRY TO MAKE IT AS EASY AS POSSIBLE. IT IS A SHARED RIDE SERVICE SO THEY MAY PICK UP ONE OR TWO MORE PEOPLE. IT IS A VAN THAT TAKES PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU WOULD ON THE BUS. IT IS A SHARED SERVICE THAT WORKS WELL.

TED SIMONS: THIS IS ALL PART OF TRANSPORTATION 2050. WHO DEVELOPED THE PLAN AND HOW DID IT COME TO BE?

MARIA HYATT: THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPED THE PLAN. OUR MAYOR AND COUNCIL PUT TOGETHER A CITIZEN'S COMMITTEE TO HAVE US GO OUT AND TALK TO THE COMMUNITY TO FIND OUT WHAT THEY WANTED. WHAT WE FOUND WAS THEY WANTED SIMPLE THINGS. THEY WANTED SHADE AT THE BUS STOP, MORE FREQUENT SERVICE, LATER HOURS, BUT THEY TOLD US TRANSIT WASN'T THE ONLY THING THEY WANTED. THEY WANTED THE SIDEWALKS WHERE THEY WALK TO GET TO THE BUS OR TRAIN. THEY WANTED THE BIKE ROUTES WHICH THEY TAKE BIKES TO GET ON. WE CARRY MORE THAN A MILLION BICYCLES EVERY YEAR ON THE BUSES AND LIGHT RAIL. THOSE ARE ALSO INCLUDED IN THE PLAN TO PROVIDE THOSE TRANSIT TRANSPORTATION ELEMENTS. SO STREET ELEMENTS IN THE PLAN.

TED SIMONS: AND 42 MILES OF NEW LIGHT RAIL ALSO INCLUDED; CORRECT?

MARIA HYATT: YES. WE JUST HAD A PRESS EVENT LAST WEEK AND KICKED OFF A BRAND NEW LIGHT RAIL STATION. IT IS THE FIRST ONE IN AN EXISTING LINE. WE ARE PUTTING IT AT 50TH STREET IN WASHINGTON. IF YOU CAN PICTURE IT, WE HAVE ABILITY 360 WHICH IS THE VALLEY'S PREDOMINANT CENTER FOR 17 AGENCIES THAT PROVIDE SERVICES TO THE DISABLED COMMUNITY.

TED SIMONS: 50TH STREET AND WASHINGTON IS RELATIVELY CLOSE TO THE TOWN LAKE AND TO MILL AVENUE; CORRECT?

MARIA HYATT: YES, CORRECT. AND RIGHT NEAR THE STOCKYARDS AS WELL.

TED SIMONS: I HAVE OFTEN ASKED ABOUT THIS. ALONG WASHINGTON THERE ARE LONG STRETCHES WHERE THERE ARE NO STATIONS. YOU CAN BUILD STATIONS IN THERE, CAN'T YOU?

MARIA HYATT: YOU CAN. SO THIS ONE WAS WARRANTED. WE HAD THE RIDERSHIP AND DEMAND AND PROVIDING SERVICE TO THAT MAJOR CENTER PROVIDING THOSE SERVICES IS IMPORTANT. THAT STATION IS GOING TO BE OPEN BY 2019.

TED SIMONS: EVERYTHING IS IMPLEMENTED IN STAGES. WHAT IS THE NEXT STAGE?

MARIA HYATT: WE HAVE TO BUY NEW BUSES TO INCREASE SERVICE AND WE WILL DO BUS RAPID TRANSIT. OTHER COMMUNITIES IN OTHER CITIES HAVE SEEN THIS. IT IS A LIGHT RAIL LINE ON WHEELS. SOMETIMES IT IS IN A DEDICATED LANE. IT IS A BIGGER BUS AND YOU PAY OFF BOARD SO IT IS FASTER AND DOESN'T STOP AS FREQUENTLY BUT IT GETS PEOPLE ARE THEY NEED TO GO FASTER. FIRST ONE WILL BE THOMAS ROAD.

TED SIMONS: LIKE A SUBWAY THERE. HOW IS ALL THIS FUNDED?

MARIA HYATT: IT IS FUNDED BY THE TAXPAYERS. TRANSPORTATION 2050 WAS PROPOSITION 104 ON THE BALLOT. THAT PROVIDES OPERATING AND CAPITAL FUND AND LEVERAGES FEDERAL FUNDS COMING IN FROM THE FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION, REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION FUNDS AS WELL AS FARES THAT WOULD NOT HAVE COME IF WE HAD NOT HAD THE SERVICE.

TED SIMONS: 70 CENTS ON A HUNDRED DOLLAR PURCHASE AND THIS EQUALS BILLIONS AT THE END OF THE PLAN?

MARIA HYATT: YES, IT IS $16 BILLION AT THE END OF THE PLAN.

TED SIMONS: FEDERAL MONIES AND FARES?

MARIA HYATT: BRINGS IT UP TO ALMOST $31 BILLION.

TED SIMONS: AND BY 2050 THE PLAN SHOULD RUN OUT?

MARIA HYATT: IT WILL HAVE RUN OUT AND WE WILL HAVE BUILT THE PLAN THE COMMUNITY TOLD US TO DO.

TED SIMONS: THE VOTERS APPROVED THIS LAST YEAR?

MARIA HYATT: YES, AUGUST 2015.

TED SIMONS: HOW MUCH CAMPAIGNING HAD TO BE DONE FOR THIS? WAS IT A CLOSE VOTE?

MARIA HYATT: 55-45 ROUGHLY SPLIT OF APPROVAL. IT WAS INTERESTING TO SEE CENTRAL CITY WITH THE BEST BUS SERVICE VOTING PREDOMINANTLY FOR IT. BUT WE SAW THE OUTSKIRTS TOO. WE FOUND PEOPLE WHO MAY NEVER RIDE A BUS OR TRAIN VOTED FOR IT STILL AND THAT IS BECAUSE IT BRINGS ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. PEOPLE CAN GET TO JOBS, IT ATTRACTS MORE JOBS IN THE AREA. SCHOOLS. SO 30% OF OUR PASSENGERS USE TRANSIT TO GET TO SCHOOLS WHETHER IT IS HIGH SCHOOL OR COLLEGE. WE KNOW THAT WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO GET OUR PEOPLE EDUCATED. IT ALSO TAKES PEOPLE TO JOBS AND ENTERTAINMENT. YOU CAN GO TO THE SUNS GAME, TO THE DIAMONDBACKS GAME, YOU CAN GO TO MESA ARTS CENTER, AND ALL OF THAT ON METRO TRANSIT.

TED SIMONS: 30 MINUTES OR LESS AS FAR AS FREQUENCY IS CONCERNED. EXPANDED DIAL A RIDE ON OCTOBER 24TH. WHEN DOES THE NEXT PHASE KICK IN?

MARIA HYATT: APRIL OF 2017.

TED SIMONS: NOT TOO FAR AWAY. THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

MARIA HYATT: THANK YOU, TED. APPRECIATE IT.
 

Maria Hyatt, Transit Director, City of Phoenix

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