1911 Railway advertisements May 28th, 2010
From the August 1911 Arizona Gazette, published in Phoenix (later the Phoenix Gazette and now merged into the Arizona Repubic). Click for full-size.
Lela Steffey on Mass Transit (1999) January 21st, 2009
ARPA Board Member Lela Steffey was a State Representative when this piece was published in the Regional Public Transportation Authority newsletter Destinations in Winter 1999.
(Caption) Representative Lela Steffey, a Republican, is from District 29 (Mesa). Committees that she has participated on include: Transportation; Government Operations; Human Services; and Judiciary. She moved to Arizona in 1973 from San Diego; retired since 1995; she and husband Warren have eight children and 23 grandchildren.
State Representative Lela Steffey (R-Mesa) believes that the only way to keep the Valley and state of Arizona moving forward is to find sources of funding that will support mass transit. Due to the efforts of Steffey and Arizona Transit Association (AzTA) Executive Director Jim Shipman, House Bill (HB) 2565 was passed earlier this year allowing $8 million in new transit funding statewide. The bill, which provides federal transportation act revenues for use to trigger state vehicle license tax (VLT) monies for transit, is the first of its kind to offer a dedicated funding source for transit in Arizona.
“This bill entered us (Arizona) into the mass transit world,” says Steffey, “although it still isn’t enough.” As an example, the State of Arizona has been spending about $3 per person on transportation, whereas California spends $43 and Washington spends $29 per person.
Until now, transit has relied heavily on city budgets and limited lottery revenues. Although, Steffey admits, local cities do need to participate in funding transit for their areas and take responsibility for their residents’ mobility. As an example, Tempe has embraced mobility and mass transit with its voter-approved half-cent sales tax to support transit in their city. Mesa was recently successful with a voter-approved referenedum that allocated a portion ofÂ a three-eighths cent sales tax to transit.
“If the cities don’t want mass transit, we can’t force it. But, they will eventually need it,” Steffey predicts. With the population of Maricopa County expected to swell to more than double its current size in the next 25 years, a funding plan to address future growth and alternative mode options is needed now. Another positive aspect of HB2565 is that it allows ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation) to participate in mass transit, which has not happened before now.
“We are excited that Mary Peters, the director of ADOT [and later U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President Bush, 2006-2009] is supportive of multi-modal options,” says Steffey. “Although ADOT has not been supportive of alternate modes inthe past, Ms. Peters’ recognizes the need for other ways to move people than by adding more cars to our freeways.”
“We cannot build freeways wide enough, or build enough of them to accomodate for the future population in this area,” says Steffey. “We must find another way to move people.”
After serving four years as the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee, Steffey is quite familiar with how the efficient movement of goods and people are essential to a strong, vital economy and a better quality of life.
“In the 1940s most cities in the U.S. had some type of a rail system, and by 1949, the rail was either taken up or paved over,” Steffey said. [Phoenix's streetcar system was closed in 1948; Tucson's in 1930.] “Now most cities have it (rail) back again.”
In fact, nearly all of Phoenix’s peer cities, such as Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, St. Louis, Denver, Portland, and Dallas have a rail system in place or are planning one.
“We must have buses, but rail is needed because buses use lanes of traffic. A mix (of rail and bus) is needed.”
Steffey fully understands the value of travel by train. In fact, she just returned home from a cross-country rail excursion that took her, and her husband Warren, from Tucson to Charleston, S.C. “This isn’t my first trip across country taking the train, but it was the most extensive, and we loved it. You really get to enjoy all the scenery, instead of peering down at from an airplane.”
Traveling is something Steffey hopes to do more of now that she is retired from the legislature. After a total of 14 years as a representative for the Mesa district and 16 years prior to that holding a career in both banking and real estate, she is ready for a slower pace.
Steffey plans to stay involved with transportation in the Valley by being part of the Governor’s transportation task force. No doubt, when it comes to support for transit in this region and the State of Arizona, Steffey will be the first to “climb on board.”
Stop Your Railing! December 28th, 2006
Sure, light-rail construction is painful, but it will be worth it in the long haul
in the Phoenix New Times, 28 December 2006, by Ray Stern. – … Central Avenue has been narrowed to one lane in each direction, the slow-moving traffic guided by thickets of orange-and-white hazard markers… We’ve been bombarded with barricades and signs, shifting lanes, road closures and epic traffic snarls…
Most businesses on the rail-construction line, though hurting, will survive. And it may sound harsh, but even if they don’t, plenty more entrepreneurs are lined up to take their places.
Businesses have had years to plan and prepare for the construction, and they’re getting lots of help. Even critics like [David] Wimberly [of the George & Dragon English Restaurant and Pub] pepper their complaints with praise for the way government officials and the construction companies doing the work act promptly when problems arise…
The strong will not only survive, but â€” if those who have gone through light rail before are any barometer â€” will thrive. Eventually.
And the rail line, still slated to start carrying passengers in December 2008, will be a great amenity for the Valley.
Word-play and Passenger Trains January 12th, 2001
By Garl Latham, Dallas, TX.
From the January 2001 Western Rail Passenger Review
As hopes grow stronger for a new era of passenger railroading, and as we see dreams of the past become tomorrowâ€™s possibilities, several small but significant problems continue to foul our track to success. One such potential stumbling block involves semantics and the regrettable adoption of airline terminology by otherwise well-meaning railway passenger advocates. Quite often, one hears of “hub-and-spoke” systems being developed for modern corridors, whose trains will be “fast and frequent” – thereby able to effectively compete with the jet airplane. It all sounds wonderful…but, is it accurate, or even realistic? What should we be striving to achieve in our quest for a 21st century railroad?
One of the single biggest mistakes being made in the planning of new routes and services is the assumption that trains – to be successful in our age – need to emulate airplanes in design and operation. Nothing could be farther from the truth! If trains are to retain popular support and recapture market share, they need to be given an opportunity to build a firm foundation on their own strengths, taking advantage of their own natural superiorities, instead of following some misguided attempt at copying something else, pretending to be what they are not.
The desire to create “airliners on the ground” becomes no more evident than when reviewing current proposals for “high(er)-speed rail corridors” throughout these United States. When we read of new”hub-and-spoke” networks to be built using improved technologies which will offer “fast and frequent” service, those statements expose their proponentâ€™s ignorance of conventional passenger railroading and its inherent advantages. “Hubs” are not original to todayâ€™s commercial airline industry, but they have certainly come to maturity during the one-score years following deregulation. The speed of jets combined with a desire to reduce costs gave rise to their application throughout the U.S. Historically, within railroading, it was quite unusual to see this sort of operational pattern outside of local city streetcar lines and a handful of interurban roads.
Intercity railways perfected another routine which serves the public much more efficiently, exploiting the trainâ€™s strong points and accepting its limitations. Instead of forcing customers to rely upon hub-and-spoke traffic configurations, long distance trains were run as part of a grid-type route matrix, interchanging passengers not only at their terminal points, but also at certain intermediate stations. The towns where these junctions were located became collectively known as “Gateway Cities”. These gateways, from Cincinnati and Denver to Manly, Iowa and Effingham, Illinois, provided railroad travelers, many times by way of true “Union Station” facilities, the opportunity to transfer from one train – even one system – to another.
The railroadâ€™s proven “grid-and-gateway” pattern is infinitely more logical for todayâ€™s passenger train operators to have as a guide than an approach which was developed for another industry, using totally different technology. Airline-style hub-and-spoke operations area great deal less efficient when applied to rail-based services, and tend to be passenger unfriendly. If long distance trains are to truly work as a viable means of public transport – and they can indeed do so – then a railroad-minded scheme must needs be applied to their operation, which demands the traditional grid-and-gateway approach! The other oft-encountered phrase being bantered about among those proposing new-and-improved railway passenger systems is”fast-and- frequent”, as if those two things are goals in and of themselves. Once again, at face value, this seems to make sense. Why wouldnâ€™t we want our new trains to be “high speed” (after all, thatâ€™s what the public wants!) and running â€˜round the clock? Arenâ€™t these the reasons people travel by airplane to begin with?!
While dissecting this argument, we find another example of flawed thinking, based upon several erroneous assumptions. From the presumption that airplanes are the trainâ€™s biggest competitor (it is, in fact, the private automobile) to the myth that most people “fly”because of the jetâ€™s speed and service (when itâ€™s actually due to the airplane often being perceived as the only reasonable alternative to driving), itâ€™s easy to see the misguided mindset which prevails among many who otherwise would consider themselves transportation”experts” and believers in some sort of railway passenger service. When viewed in the proper perspective, it should be obvious that trains donâ€™t need to be “fast and frequent” as defined by todayâ€™s airline standards. A comfortable, reliable 79 to 90 mile-per-hour average over-the-road speed would be enough to woo a sizeable number of passengers to the rails, whereas top speeds in the 110 m/h range and beyond soon involve the operator in a classic example of”the law of diminishing returns” (it costs too much to maintain the infrastructure versus the time and revenue benefits derived from that additional speed). Also, “frequent” in a railway setting does not mean the same thing as “frequent” to the typical airline patron of the year 2000. It would be wonderful (and quite adequate) to see four or five trains every day on most “corridors” (even current Chicago- based proposals revolve around a maximum eight train-per-day frequency);Southwest Airlines in comparison brags about having 45 non-stops each business day between Dallas and Houston!
If our government could ever be convinced to make the investment necessary for the construction and maintenance of a new passenger railway network (similar to the Interstate II proposal from Amtrak Reform Council Chairman Gil Carmichael), such a system would receive my unqualified support! However, the road and air lobbies are extremely powerful and firmly intrenched within Washington, and that alone may very well eliminate sizeable spending for rail-related facilities and equipment. This is especially true if the investment was viewed as coming at the expense of subsidies reserved for various highway and skyway special interests.
No… instead of beginning with high-dollar, new-from-the-ground-up corridors, designed to impersonate earth-bound airlines, railway passenger services of the next generation will need to be 1) reliant upon existing infrastructure, 2) operationally self-sufficient, 3) able to share guideway space with other (commuter/intermodal/freight) traffic, and 4) planned and executed to offer a viable alternative to the de-facto monopolies inherent in todayâ€™s travel world (due to the United Statesâ€™s lack of a comprehensive passenger transportation policy). It is also imperative that we embrace a multiple number of inter- corridor, long distance routes as an integral part of any railway system developed for the North American continent.
For a “reasonable” (read: “minimal”) financial commitment – tied to an esoteric understanding of railroad operations – a rebuilt, revitalized system of intercity passenger trains could once again exist; trains that would effectively serve a diverse passenger base with comfortable, reliable, cost-effective transportaion. The railway alternative, far from being outmoded and unnecessary, should be considered a foundational part of our total transportation network – a true 21st century solution to a contemporary need!
Quotables July 26th, 1999
- “Politicians and business leaders increasingly understand that effective rapid transit stimulates the economy, creating jobs and generating even more prosperity. Critics continue to circulate tired, discredited arguments against rail transit, but many of these naysayers are nothing more than hired guns who rent themselves to rail opponents in an effort to sway public opinion.” Julian Wolinsky in Railway Age
- [A new freeway creates more traffic woes than it solves] “because it makes everybody drive more. If freeways solved transportation problems, Los Angeles would be heaven.” — Paul Basha, Scottsdale’s traffic engineering director, in The Arizona Republic, 24 December 1999, page B2.
- Rail adds capacity to our existing roads, at a much lower cost than adding yet more highway lanes. Roy Kienitz, executive director of Surface Transportation Policy Project, says: “If more highway investment was a way to reduced traffic, Los Angeles would be the least congested city in America. Instead, it’s the most congested city in America.”
- “See that map? The red lines are eight-lane freeways we’re not using.” â€” ARPA members at Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce trade show, April 8, 1998. With this lead-in, almost everyone who passed the ARPA booth stayed to hear about passenger rail in Arizona. Over 100 signed our petition in support of light rail in Scottsdale. [A single railroad line can carry as many persons in an hour as an eight-lane freeway.]
- “I thought light rail was a boondoggle…Then I had a meeting downtown one day and thought I’d try the trolley. People were standing in the aisle.” â€“ Alan Whisman of San Jose, CA, who previously had voted against two tax measures to fund the construction of the region’s new rail transit system. The service has reported increases in ridership for 34 straight months. As quoted in the San Jose Mercury News 1/12/98.
- “There was a big debate about how beneficial BART would be, if at all…Now we cannot live without BART. In time it may be the same with light rail.” â€“ Mark Lazzarini, executive director of the Northern California Home Builders Association, remembering being told that San Francisco Bay Area commuters wouldn’t ride BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, instead of drive, San Jose Mercury News 1/12/98.
- “I hope with all the new and expanding commuter rail operations around the county our cities will recognize the need to save rail connections, and stop ripping up their tracks. Our freeways are just getting too crowded to handle all the rush hour congestion. It is great to see new and expanding commuter rail really starting to take hold in America.” â€“ Ray Dunbar of Longview, Texas
- “Adding highway lanes to reduce traffic congestion is like loosening your belt to cure obesity.” â€“ Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist, in the Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1997.
- “Amtrak said they were too busy keeping their system afloat, that they had insufficient resources, and the last thing they wanted to do was to add any new services.” Fred Friedman, railroad planner for New Mexico, regarding a proposed Denverâ€“Albuquerqueâ€“ El Paso train; at NARP convention, October 23, 1997
- “Twenty-five percent of all baseball fans who attended the Baltimore Orioles’ opening day [in 1997] â€“ some 12,000 fans â€“ traveled to the game on light rail, Metro Subway, MARC commuter rail, and bus systems… MTA’s light rail and MARC systems drop fans off directly outside Camden Yards…” â€“ Railway Age, May 1997
- “I agree with you that it would be terrific to someday see our fans utilize a rail system that would drop them off right outside the Ballpark.” â€“ Blake Edwards, Director of Sales and Marketing, Arizona Diamondbacks in a letter to ARPA member Bob Hart
- Ed Fox, Arizona Public Service Vice President of Environmental Health and Safety, “We think that a [rail] demonstration project… can capture the imagination of the public, and silence some of the naysayers that say it won’t work.” [13 December 1996]
- “Increasingly, residents are likening Phoenix’s transit system to the Dark Ages, and believe something needs to be done to improve air quality” — Peggy Bilstein, Phoenix Councilwoman. [Arizona Republic, 9 October 1996]
- “I find it [rail] a very attractive and exciting idea. Rapid transit is a great idea, but it has to work financially.” — Gov. Fife Symington III [Arizona Republic, 9 October 1996]
- With 310 comment cards were returned and 1,007 mailed in after recent transit forums, Phoenix Councilwoman Peggy Bilstein remarked, “I cannot remember an issue where we had 1,000 people write in.” A 1/2 cent tax for bus and rail garnered 68% approval. Ranking important issues, “More buses” had 72%, followed closely by “Rail” at 68%. “Sunday Service” was next with 52%. [Arizona Republic, 20 November 1996]
- “Most [Chandler] residents want to raise taxes to fund a mass transit plan similar to one recently approved by Tempe voters, according to a poll, even though nearly 90 percent don’t ride buses… 73 percent said it’s very or somewhat important to have rapid transit.” [Arizona Republic, 30 October 1996]
- Editorial by Paul J. Schatt: “A welcome momentum is building. Business and political leaders are envisioning a future that brings mass transit into the transportation mix that includes freeways and major arterials.” “Support for raising taxes to pay for transit jumps when people know what they will be buying.” [Arizona Republic, 11 October 1996]