Light Rail Won’t Die

This letter to the editor in today’s Scottsdale Republic illustrates how bad ideas just keep coming around.

Better transit is mandatory

As with most construction, light rail would be a nightmare — but as many Phoenix merchants will tell you, their business has improved dramatically since its introduction. Old Town Scotts­dale merchants should not be allowed to dominate a conversation that will impact our ability to attract tourists and employees while meeting the needs of existing residents.

I worked for a downtown merchant for a few months while I was between jobs. Thanks to the low salaries that most of these small-business owners pay, I couldn’t afford to drive my car due to gas prices and car repairs. I relied on transit, and I would advise other downtown merchants that there is indeed a growing number of people who want and need a system that doesn’t require them to take three bus­es and travel for almost two hours just to go from Scottsdale to Mesa.

I also urge them to meet with the many transit users who have to strug­gle with our antiquated system. Talk to the people who use it, so you can un­derstand that an improved transit sys­tem is mandatory for a city of this size.

Sandi Beck, Scottsdale

I have not to my recollection ever met Ms. Beck. I might have if she had ever participated in the years’ worth of discussions that Scottsdale residents have already had on this issue…but I suspect she was NOT involved.

I sympathize with her plight, but her backhanded criticism of merchants in Scottsdale’s Old Town area (one of which apparently provided her with employment for a period of time, when I presume she was unable to find employment elsewhere) is yet another example of an entitlement attitude that is driving the illogical clamor for light rail.

Ms. Beck provides within her letter the identification of the real issue: The Byzantine nature of the existing transit system. The Scottsdale-to-Mesa trip she describes could easily be accomplished in an hour at relatively little cost (especially compared to light rail), if bus frequency and route connectivity were improved. And that’s to say nothing of implementing city-center-to-city-center express bus routes.

There is no ‘problem’ that light rail can solve that better bus service can’t solve more effectively and less expensively.

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2 Comments

  1. I read her letter the other day and wrote it off as someone who doesn’t know much about the details of light rail.

    You make a good point about the bus service. I have no details as to why it is the way it is but I see large buses with expanded trailers on the back all the time with one or two people on them. I’ve wondered why those gigantic buses are needed for their apparently low ridership. It re-enforces in a way what I have said for years about Scottsdale using 13 passenger “Jitneys” like Atlantic City and having a lot of them.

    On the other hand maybe those large buses do serve a purpose of which I am not familiar. Do you know?

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