Hidden Letter to the Editor: Hitching Your Wagon To Light Rail

This column appeared in today’s Scottsdale Republic print edition.

City leaders must get on board rapid transit for Scottsdale

As one of the residents who sub­mitted a citizens petition to place the issue of mass transit as an agenda item for the City Council to consider, I want to briefly explain my reasons for doing so.

Although this topic was considered previously, I concluded that changes throughout the Valley and in the eco­nomics of travel warranted a new ex­amination. One factor is the price of gasoline and the increasingly high cost of single transportation. Four-dollar-a­-gallon gasoline is probable and $10 is not a fantasy any longer.

The other major factor that caused me to ask the council is the transit sys­tem that is rapidly becoming regional in nature. Phoenix has extended its system to the northern part of the city, Gilbert has requested the system, and Tempe is working on additional mile­age. To ignore the changes in transporta­tion that are taking place in the Valley is to abrogate the responsi­bility voters assigned to the City Council.

One of the actions pertaining to mass transit is the negative attitude certain indi­viduals demonstrate without having gained knowledge how light rail functions in other cities, what factors influenced governments to adopt the system that was chosen and what would the governments do differ­ently. I have done some research per­taining to light-rail systems and one conclusion stands out: There is a vocal minority against mass transit before installation, and a majority strongly in favor once a system is in place and functioning for a time.

Several people have spoken of light rail providing the means for criminals to invade our sanctuary to commit crimes of a heinous nature. That con­clusion is based upon the assumption that felons cannot drive or are not com­fortable taking the bus.

Experience and records show that light rail does not increase the crime rate. What a mass-transit approach would accomplish would be a system that transports a workforce that our tourist and high-tech industries sorely need. Those industries provide a tax base that helps Scottsdale keep proper­ty taxes low.

There are many additional reasons for a rapid-transit system. A main im­petus behind the petition is that there is a need to revisit the issue. Speaking out against any topic without a detailed review is a mistake asking to be made.

This issue, if mishandled, can cost Scottsdale dearly. However, if a proper and complete study is made — sans politics — then Scottsdale’s future will continue to have the reputation of being one of the most desirable in the United States. Too often, the naysayers gain the attention of voters, while the opti­mists speak quietly with knowledge.

This issue is one that ignites emo­tions. However, a calm, studied ap­proach will educate residents as to which system serves Scottsdale best. Yes, it will offer opportunity to some. That means more tax revenue and new businesses. That is capitalism.

Jerry Gettinger is a political adviser and consultant in Scottsdale.

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3 Comments

  1. What Mr. Gettinger doesn’t realize is that, ironically, he is being used politically to advance an transit-oriented development agenda.

    To that end and his lament about lack of study, we’ve studied this to death…where was he when the city shelled out a bunch of money to a consultant who said point-blank that light rail isn’t about transportation, it’s about development. That was repeated rather publicly by former Mayor Mary Manross.

    Jerry how can you be surprised that residents who’ve studied this issue and said ‘no’ resent your johnny-come-lately criticism?

    And as to your “conclusion” that, “There is a vocal minority against mass transit before installation, and a majority strongly in favor once a system is in place and functioning for a time;” that is a prime example of confirmation bias. Further, I’ll pay you $100 to see the “research” you’ve done to arrive at your “conclusion.”

    1. John,

      Every opinion Gettinger submits to the Republic is just another yawn producing typical liberal diatribe. I’m glad I read it in the morning otherwise I would have been snoozing before the end of the first paragraph.

      I see that he is listed as a “political adviser and consultant”. Excuse me while I laugh! I wonder how many times his phone has rung asking for advice and consultation. How about ZERO.

  2. John,

    One has to consider the source when reading anything by Gettinger. He is a solid liberal when it comes to any of his comments on any subject.

    Whenever I see his photo over a byline I think, “Uh-oh, here he goes again!”

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