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Today marks the beginning of cuts to transit service in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Light rail service will be less frequent during peak hours and peak hours are being reduced by two hours each day. Bus routes also are being affected – some routes will have less frequent service and some are being eliminated altogether. Neighborhood circulator buses and Dial-A-Ride paratransit services will see similar reductions in service.
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund and other groups are concerned about the impact that these service cuts will have on Valley residents. “At a time when transit service in the Valley should be expanding, these service cuts are particularly painful since more people rely on public transit for mobility during an economic downturn,” said Serena Unrein, Public Interest Advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund. Transportation agencies made the service cuts because of transit funding shortfalls: sales tax revenues that have not met expectations and the sweeping of lottery funds by the state legislature that were earmarked for transit.
A variety of groups gathered near the Van Buren light rail stop to discuss the impact that the transit cuts will have on Arizonans. AARP Arizona, Arizona Center for Disability Law, the Phoenix Revitalization Corporation, and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) all spoke about how the transit cuts will affect their communities.
“Public transit services are a lifeline for many elderly, low-income and disabled Arizonans, providing them mobility and connecting them to their community. Whether it's Dial-A-Ride, bus or light rail service, it's an option by which they can get to their doctor, their job, to school, or to shopping. It means independence for many who don't have a car or are unable to drive," said Cynthia Fagyas, Communications Director for AARP Arizona.
The groups also were concerned about the negative effects transit service cuts will have on local businesses and economic development. For every dollar invested in transit, America receives nearly two dollars in economic benefits.
“To develop a sound state economy and to enhance Arizonans' quality of life, we must invest in public transportation and we must expand transit options. At a time when we desperately need economic development, it makes sense to invest in transit,” said Teresa Brice, Executive Director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).
Additional information about specific service changes can be found at the Valley Metro website. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund has tips for transit riders on how to deal with the service cuts and those can be found on our website.
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