Considering Transportation Route Alternatives
METRO and the City of Phoenix held two public meetings last month to seek input on route and transit mode alternatives for the five-mile South Central Avenue corridor from Washington Street to Baseline Road.
The meetings were part of a 24-month alternatives analysis to determine whether bus rapid transit, modern streetcar or light rail would best serve the community’s transportation needs. Attention is also focused on 10 potential routes – three Central/1st Avenue combinations, three 7th Avenue combinations, three 7th Street combinations, and one 7th Street/7th Avenue combination.
Besides the 7th Street/7th Avenue combination, routes follow Central Avenue after crossing I-17.
Factors under consideration as part of the overall evaluation process include ridership, physical and engineering constraints, operating and capital costs, and compatibility with the existing and planned transportation network.
Another primary factor is community input.
“What we’ve heard is that the community views the project positively and is looking forward to improved transit service and potential opportunities a project like this can bring to the community,” said Hillary Foose, public information officer for METRO light rail.
Residents who didn’t attend the initial meetings can still provide project input by contacting Alex Albert by email at email@example.com, phone at 602-980-0913 or mail at 101 N. 1st Ave., Suite 1300, Phoenix, AZ 85003. Residents can also contact Albert to get added to an email distribution list for updates and meeting announcements.
Projections provided by METRO show the light rail alternative comes with the greatest capital cost – an estimated $60-$90 million. But it also has the highest passenger capacity, with approximately 180-200 riders per car.
In comparison, modern streetcar could cost $40-$60 million per mile to construct and carry 130-160 per car. Bus rapid transit would run an estimated $1-$15 million per mile and have a passenger capacity of 60-90 people per bus.
Foose said a recommendation for a single route and mode is scheduled for third quarter 2013.
“It is possible that the study process could result in a recommendation for no new mode of transportation in the corridor,” she added. “It’s unlikely, as there’s such demand and opportunity in this corridor.”
According to Foose, the next round of public meetings will likely be held near the end of the year, but specific dates are not yet scheduled.