New Valley Metro CEO sees ridership
July 13, 2022
Valley Metro just welcomed their new CEO, Jessica Mefford-Miller, as ridership is starting to increase back to pre-pandemic levels.
Coming to the Valley
Mefford-Miller came to Valley Metro because of the growth that she has seen as well as to provide her own insight into the transportation system.
“The Valley Metro transit system is strong and its growing, and I wanted to be part of that. And I also saw opportunities to bring my perspective and experiences to the 18 member cities in Maricopa County.”
Mefford-Miller came to Valley Metro after serving as director of Metro Transit in St. Louis. She talked about the differences between transit in St. Louis and here in the Valley and what she can do given her prior experience.
With Governor Ducey “saying no” to prop. 400 being on the ballot, Mefford-Miller talked about the impact of the governor’s decision and how with the extension of the tax being denied, the setback could be a big one.
“It supports roads, bridges, highways and also public transit. This is an extension, not a new tax. So we need this to continue not only building but operating our service on a day-to-day basis.”
Maintaining freeways, construction and upkeep of streets will all be affected without the extension and Mefford-Miller told Horizon that there are plans in place if that is the case. She also said that while inflation was the reasoning behind Ducey’s decision, it should also be the reason why people will turn to public transit.
Amidst the pandemic, Valley Metro saw some ridership loss, but within recent months, they have seen ridership returning. With the expansion construction on the light rail and the new Tempe Streetcar, Mefford-Miller says that bus ridership is returning to pre-pandemic levels.
People are concerned about the homeless population on the light rail, Ted asked Mefford-Miller for her response.
“We’ve got a comprehensive security program we have Allied Universal guards who are on almost every train throughout our service day. We also have a detail from the city of Phoenix police department. And we also have a team called Customer Experience Coordinators and they are out on our system all day every day.”
Too much transit?
With the introduction of the Tempe Streetcar, the question becomes if there is too much public transit in Tempe? It seems like there are more public transit vehicles on the road than actual vehicles. But Mefford-Miller says that in a place like Tempe, it is important to have the right kind of transit for the right kind of communities and situations.