Robert Barber on Light Rail May 31st, 1999
31 May 1999″Light-rail transit advocates remain on track” (The Arizona Republic, May 30, page EV1) is not convincing. Twelve years after ValTrans was initiated, we’re still mired in vacillation about rail transit — indeed about transit in general.
Los Angeles started planning Metrolink about the same time, and that system has been operating — and expanding since 1992. It now operated 126 trains each weekday on 416 miles of six routes, serving 46 stations. Two light-rail routes and a subway supplement Metrolink. [source: June 1999 TRAINS magazine]
Rail passenger transit systems — including light-rail have also been established in several other states during this decade, while some older systems have been expanded or improved.
About a year hence we’ll know if Phoenix voters will help fund the initial 13-mile [light rail system] from their downtown to east Apache Blvd. [in Tempe.] If not, forget the whole idea. If so, we may have, by 2005, some million-dollar cars traversing Washington St., a Rio Salado bridge, assorted streets in downtown Tempe and a mile or so of Apache Boulevard.
If Mesa is ever served by this system the first cars will arrive 20 years after the ValTrans proposal. Discouraging, isn’t it?
In the meantime, maybe this disjointed and indecisive region can conjure up a scheme to lay another track near the Union Pacific — Superstition commuters might be interested.
– Robert T. Barber