"Tempe Cesspool for the Arts"

aka "Tempe Center for the Arts"

Don't waste more money on ‘folly trolley'


Letters: Don't waste more money on ‘folly trolley'

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2011 4:30 am

Letter to the editor

Tempe plans to spend $130 million of your hard-earned tax dollars to build a 2-mile, single-car, fixed-rail trolley route from Mill and Southern to downtown Tempe. The funding for the street trolley is a hopeful mixture of regional, state and federal funds - all public taxpayer dollars. So even if you don't live in Tempe or ever use the trolley, it's your money that will be paying for this project. In addition, Tempe residents can look forward to paying the annual maintenance cost for the folly trolley of $3.1 million per year, or about $100,000 each and every day.

Please understand, the proposed Tempe trolley is not light rail; it's a single-rail car from Japan with seating for 35 people running on rails in the street along with the cars, trucks and busses. Tempe states that the reasons for the trolley are to "connect neighborhoods to downtown Tempe, increase transit ridership and support ASU transit demand." Perhaps small, low pollution, electric or natural gas busses running on existing or enhanced routes could fulfill this pent-up Tempe transit demand more cost-effectively. The citizens of Arizona should let their voices be heard and not pay for this expensive, inefficient and ineffective transit boondoggle.

Tom Sanford, Tempe

More trolly follies in Tempe????

What's a hundred million dollar boondoggle when you can have the serfs you rule over pay for it????

Hey, it's only a tenth of a billion dollar boondoggle compared to the $2 billion light rail boondoggle and the $1 billion Sky Train boondoggle


U.S. officials clear Tempe trolley project for downtown

By Sean Holstege Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:34 PM

Tempe’s plans for a downtown and waterfront streetcar took a major step forward Friday, when federal officials announced they had cleared the project to enter the final stages of development.

The Federal Transit Administration did not approve any money for the estimated $130 million, roughly 2.7-mile streetcar track. But the project’s inclusion in a go-ahead list significantly improves the odds. It is almost unheard of for the FTA to scuttle a project once it’s been cleared.

Tempe and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., are the only U.S. cities whose streetcar projects were advanced by the Obama administration in its announcement of $2.1 billion in proposed transit-construction spending.

“This is a great step toward making modern streetcar a reality for this community,” said David Schwartz, executive director at Friends of Transit.

Added Tempe Councilwoman Shana Ellis: “This has been a very long journey, and I’m very excited this has been advanced.”

Tempe envisions a system similar to one in Portland, Ore. Typically streetcar systems have more frequent service and more closely bunched stations than light-rail lines. Transit planners prefer streetcars over light-rail trains for short routes with lots of quick trips. Streetcars are favored over buses where planners expect redevelopment along the tracks.

Tucson is the only other Arizona city with a streetcar project moving forward, though it has been plagued by delays. [And Tucson's Trolly Follies are turning out to be a boondoggle that is almost as bad as Phoenix's light rail boondoggle]

In Tempe, a new round of public hearings will begin next month to pick the streetcar’s exact route and stations. Two options exist:

An L-shaped route along Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard.

A C-shaped system that doesn’t go as far east on Apache Boulevard but adds a leg along Rio Salado Parkway.

Both options include a loop in downtown Tempe. Planners say the public could ride in 2015 at the earliest. News of federal approval comes as the Valley’s transit network picks up steam.

On Monday, Phoenix opened a $644 million automatic people mover connecting Metro light rail to Sky Harbor Airport, and it carried twice as many passengers in the first couple of days than predicted. A second phase is under construction. [$644 million??? That is a mistake, all the other articles say it is a around a billion and half dollar boondoggle! But hey, what's a billion dollars when your serfs are paying the bill]

Construction is also under way on two light-rail extensions, in Mesa and along 19th Avenue in Phoenix. Plans are accelerating to extend light rail deeper into Mesa and well as to Metrocenter Mall in northwest Phoenix, and plans are advancing for light-rail extensions west and south from downtown Phoenix.

“We’re advancing transit in the Valley. We’re doing good things and we’re leveraging that with out federal partners,” Metro CEO Steve Banta said.

Tempe’s project has at times been touch-and-go but has now crossed a significant milestone. Transportation wonks call it entering the pipeline, the shortcut word used to describe the sometimes lengthy process to win federal approvals and funding. The FTA does not spend money on projects until it clears them for the pipeline. And the recently passed federal transportation bill shortens the pipeline.

Under the new regulations, Metro can design, engineer and study the environmental impacts in one phase and build the track in a second. Previously, it took more steps to get to construction.

Metro has in hand $41 million from Proposition 400, the countywide half-cent-per-dollar sales tax, plus $32 million in federal clean-air money. The agency is seeking $56 in federal transit funds to make up the balance and begin work. “The fact that the FTA advanced the streetcar means they understand the project has plenty of merits,” Valley Metro planning manager Ben Limmer said.

That was not always the case.

The FTA declined a previous grant application. At that time, the region proposed a line heading south down Mill Avenue, and projected it would only carry 1,100 passengers a day. That made it uncompetitive with other projects in the country. Planners shifted gears and came up with a shorter system that connected Tempe’s most densely populated areas.

The FTA did not say, and planners don’t yet know, how competitive the current plan will be under the new law. By one key measure, the proportion of local money invested, Tempe’s project stacks up well against similar-size “Small Starts” projects. Only the Fort Lauderdale streetcar and a rapid-bus project in Oakland are asking the FTA to contribute smaller portions of funding, as a percentage.

Even before it was a streetcar, Tempe’s project had morphed. Originally, voters approved a short light-rail spur on Rural Road when they passed Prop. 400 in 2004. But studies revealed it would cost too much and carry too few. It was recast as the downtown streetcar project.

“Light rail succeeded beyond everybody’s wildest expectations and I think our streetcar will, too,” Ellis said.


Tempe Center for the Arts

Tempe Cesspool for the Arts