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Statement of Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, to the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Transportation Policy Committee:
“In June, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) filed joint comments on the MAG Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) and raised concerns about whether the Local Transportation Assistance Fund (LTAF) fund sweeps were incorporated into the RTP. We want to thank MAG for reevaluating the RTP today to incorporate how the loss of LTAF funds might impact transit in the region.
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund is disappointed – as members of the Maricopa Association of Governments are – that the Arizona legislature swept the only funds the state has provided for transit. As cities and towns across Arizona have cut back transit services for their residents, we have seen the adverse impacts.
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund advocates for providing consumers with transportation options. Cities in Maricopa County have been some of the fastest growing cities in the country and as everyone in this room well knows, we now are facing the problems that result from a lack of transit infrastructure and funding. Highways are plagued with congestion, no matter how many we build or how quickly we expand them. Pollution has increasingly become a problem; ozone health watches are issued on many summer days, more of our children are being affected by asthma, and a brown cloud hangs over our valley. Freeways have become more dangerous and we see more accidents resulting in injuries and death because of the number of cars on the road. Because of these reasons, it is increasingly important to provide transit options.
Unfortunately the loss of LTAF funds and the resulting transit service cuts set Arizona back at a time when we should be expanding transit. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund urges MAG and others to find reliable sources of funding so that we can provide Arizonans with transit options.
We appreciate the work of MAG to increase public transportation in Maricopa County and we thank you for the opportunity to comment.”
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