A half-cent sales tax to fund and expand public transportation was approved by voters back in 2004 and is set to expire in 2025. With that in mind, Valley Metro is pushing to get an extension of the tax on next year’s ballot. Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith spoke with us earlier about why he wants that tax extended.
“It has paid for our freeway system, street work, light rail, and other transit,” Smith said when talking about the half-cent sales tax increase. It is a 20-year tax that will expire in a couple of years. “These programs take time to plan, he added.”
Smith said the light rail has created $15 billion in real investment along its route. “For the most part, the debate over the light rail is gone because people have seen the real impact,” he mentioned. “We are finding that people see not only the light rail, but transit and high-capacity transit as being part of our future.”
Heavy-investment transportation and water have changed the Valley over the past 30-40 years, Smith said. “We have seen the rewards from the smart investment we’ve had,” he said.
Smith is retiring from Valley Metro in June 2022, but said he is not retiring from the discussion about public transportation. He said he feels passionate about the future.
“I’ll have a great opportunity no matter what role I take to hopefully have an impact on the future of Arizona,” he said.