Phoenix city council approves new bus corridor
By Evan Maharry, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism
The city of Phoenix Transportation, Infrastructure and Innovation subcommittee this Wednesday unanimously approved a bus corridor along 35th Ave. and Van Buren Street as part of the Bus Rapid Transit program during a city council meeting.
The Bus Rapid Transit program, or BRT, is a “key component of Transportation 2050,” a transit plan passed by Phoenix voters Aug. 25, 2015, as a part of Proposition 104, Deputy Public Transit Director Sara Kotecki said.
Phoenix voters additionally voted to introduce a 0.7% sales tax to pay for the new transit plan, according to Proposition 104.
The sales tax, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2016, pays for $16.7 billion of the $31.5 billion that the Phoenix city government estimates as the total cost of the program.
“We have a commitment to deliver BRT to the fifth largest city in the U.S.,” Kotecki said.
Besides the 35th Ave. and Van Buren Street corridor, the city identified six other potential corridors in a technical workshop in December 2019 that would be “the most productive, the highest demand and the highest need,” according to Kotecki.
The other six potential corridors are Camelback Road and 24th St.; Indian School Road and 24th St.; Thomas Road and 44th St.; McDowell Road and 44th St.; 19th Ave. and Van Buren Street; and 35th Ave. and Van Buren Street., according to Public Transit Director Matthew Taunton.
“Based on the results of our transit analysis, the three highest performing BRT corridors are Camelback Road and 24th St.; Thomas Road and 44th St.; and 35th Ave. and Van Buren Street.,” Taunton said. “These corridors provided the highest ridership, they typically had the best geographic coverage…and they both complemented our existing and future transit networks.”
According to Taunton, community engagement efforts matched the results of the transit analysis.
While three of the six corridors proved most compelling to be prioritized for approval, the subcommittee deferred a final decision on the other two “until there’s further resolution on the high-capacity transit corridors in West Phoenix,” according to Kotecki.
Bus transit leads transit ridership in Phoenix, with 36.8 million riders in 2019 alone, according to the city of Phoenix; the new corridor is the first approved since Proposition 104 passed in 2015.
The meeting ended with Subcommittee Chair Debra Stark of District 3 joining councilwomen Ann O’Brien of District 1, Laura Pastor of District 4 and Betty Guardado of District 5 in voting in favor of approving the new corridor.