Government Issues

Phoenix voters defeat measure to end light rail construction

Posted on August 28, 2019 by Alex Roman, Managing Editor

Valley Metro's 28-mile light rail system supports job growth and community-wide health benefits, while also generating investment.
Valley Metro
Valley Metro's 28-mile light rail system supports job growth and community-wide health benefits, while also generating investment.Valley Metro

Voters in Phoenix defeated Proposition 105, which would have ended all Valley Metro light rail construction, prohibited future rail investment, and returned billions in federal dollars previously pledged to expand the regional transit system, by a vote of 62% to 38%.

The vote marks the fourth time since 2000 that Phoenix voters have publicly supported light rail through the election process.

“Congratulations to the forward-thinking residents of Phoenix, who voted to ensure that their light rail system can expand to better serve the transit needs of a rapidly growing city looking to the future, said American Public Transportation Association President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “Phoenix made it resoundingly clear to the naysayers that light rail is essential to their economy and their community.”

The vote means that Valley Metro will continue to build-out the regional rail system, including the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub, Northwest Extension Phase II, and Capitol/I-10 West Extension, which are all currently underway.

Proposition 105 — the latest in a string of anti-public transportation initiatives — would have prohibited the city from spending money on development, construction, expansion, or improvement of light rail transit, with an exception for PHX Sky Train. It would have allocated any revenue from the city's 0.7% transportation sales tax that was previously allocated toward light rail development to other city infrastructure. The initiative would have also earmarked any revenue allocated to light rail development along Central Avenue south of Washington Street specifically for infrastructure in South Phoenix. Overall, Proposition 105's provisions reallocating revenue would have applied to any collected, unspent revenue as well as future revenue.

Valley Metro’s victory continues the nationwide trend of public transit’s success at the ballot box. In 2018 for example, voters across the country approved nearly $41 billion in new investment for transportation at the ballot box, with a success rate of 77%, according to analysis by the Eno Center for Transportation.

“Our analysis found that voters have a tremendous appetite to fix their infrastructure and expand transportation opportunities, but that certain kinds of measures had more success at the ballot box than others,” said Robert Puentes, president/CEO of Eno.

The 28-mile light rail system supports job growth and community-wide health benefits, while also generating investment, including an estimated $11 billion in development around the system.

Valley Metro said it will continue to partner with the community and help local businesses before and during the construction of current and future extensions. Related to the South Central Extension/Downtown Hub, the business assistance program has started earlier than ever before and it has the largest budget allocated to technical, financial, and marketing assistance programs than any other prior rail project in metro Phoenix.

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