Fengering Light Rail

by John Washington on June 22, 2012

This guest column by lovely local personality Becky Fenger appeared in today’s online AZ Capitol Times.

Shame on David Martin for failing to mention light rail

David Martin’s June 8 guest opinion article, “Transportation funding is neither Democrat nor Republican — it’s American,” which supports 2004’s Proposition 400 imposition of a 20-year, half-cent sales  tax in Maricopa County to fund regional transit projects, is misguided.

Martin, who is president of the Arizona Chapter of Associated General Contractors, has rocks in his head if he thinks the Club for Growth faults U.S. Senate candidate Wil Cardon for supporting “freeway and road construction.” The club calls him a conservative imposter for helping to lead the fight to force Maricopa County citizens to accept the bad investment of light rail transit in order to get the freeways and roads they actually want. It’s as simple as that. Only liberals are oblivious to cost/benefits ratios [and a lot of supposed "conservatives," too. JW].

Interestingly, Martin never uses the words “light rail” in the hundreds of words he submitted in defense of Proposition 400, which brought us this boondoggle. What is he hiding? Maybe it’s the fact that light rail transit is the costliest way to move a person from Point A to Point B. Maybe the fact that too much of the money from the tax — 32 percent — is allocated to mass transit when it accounts for only 1 percent of the regional travel and results in neglect of needed road improvements. For every $1 that Prop. 400 spends to benefit drivers, $40 is spent to benefit the tiny percentage of transit riders.

Maybe Martin was hiding the fact that according to the Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Project Final Environmental Statement prepared by Valley Metro experts, light rail actually increases air pollution, along with lengthening the time commuters spend in traffic! That’s the undeniable truth, admitted to in the hidden pages of government reports.

As much as Martin and his extremely vested interests at AGC want to claim that Prop. 400 results in a “better quality of life,” this is simply not the case in cities with light rail. You get massive yearly deficits instead. “More time with their families” is another bogus claim of Martin’s. Their poor kids will pay through the nose to feed the beast of ever-growing tentacles of more rail lines that don’t pencil out and never will.

Finally, it is indeed a tax increase when an expired tax is replaced with a new tax. Even if big spenders think otherwise.

In this duel, David Martin is shooting with blanks.

— Becky Fenger, Phoenix

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