The vehicles are the Innovia APM 200 series vehicles controlled by their automatic train control technology Cityflo 650, a moving block technology. The train control technology is one they have already integrated with the Innovia APM vehicle and it is already operating at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and London Heathrow Airport.
City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said the region is blessed to have an airport that’s located in the heart of the Valley and so they were looking to make it as convenient as possible. “To give our transit riders an opportunity to get to the airport without having to use a vehicle, to make it as convenient as possible for people and to get as many vehicles off the main campus as possible,” he stated.
This first phase to terminal four, the busiest terminal, was $644 million and the next phase, connecting to terminal three, will be $240 million. The funding was put together through airport revenues and passenger fees: no local tax dollars.
The Mayor Council serves as the board for the airport so they had to approve it. Stanton said, “Look, I’m the mayor so I believe in infrastructure investment.” He continued, “The more you can support and build upon your infrastructure, it’s great for the future of the city. It sends the right messages to people that may be thinking about doing business in your city that you’re willing to make tough decisions.
“You’ve got to have the strength of mind to get it done even during tough economic times.”
Growth and Management
Banta said there are five corridors at various stages of study and a challenge, Banta said, is managing all of those projects in a way that coincides with the cash flows from the regional tax and also to be able to provide the due diligence on each one with current staff and to not grow exponentially to an unsustainable level.
Regarding maintaining the system Banta said they have to have partners in the private sector with the cities and developers that invest in and develop around the infrastructure to provide some of that revenue back to the system. “As our system ages, we want to make sure that we maintain that system.” He continued, “We bring their customers, their clients and their employees to and from their front door.”
As part of the total transit network, Banta said an important component is the economic development opportunity it provides. There has been about $6 billion worth of investment around a little over a $1 billion transit system. “Right now we get $6 for one and the national average is $4.” He said, “So we’re doing a little bit better than the national average and folks don’t recognize that value.”
One person that does recognize the value of the light rail in downtown is Jeff Moloznik, vice president development with Red Development, the commercial real estate company behind CityScape, a 1.2-million-square-foot urban project in the core of downtown Phoenix. It’s located at a light rail stop and the mixed-use development features office, retail, apartments and a hotel.
He said the light rail line was one of the drivers for why this primarily retail development company chose this particular project for this location. “If the city, state and county are going to invest that kind of capital and the public is going to invest that kind of capital into a system like this long term, this site would have unlimited potential, regardless of what economic situation we were presented with.”
He said he has a philosophy on light rail that he always describes it to people as a natural resource, somewhat like a river. Rivers were used for transportation historically and around the river is where cities developed. “It’s not this revolutionary concept,” he stated. “We plan real estate around transportation infrastructure.”
CityScape has a 97 percent occupancy rate and while that’s important, Moloznik said the success rate is determined on the per square foot retail sales. And this project has some of the highest per square foot retail sales in the state.
To read more details of the project visit www.MassTransitmag.com/10964818.
Proposition 400 is the half-cent sales tax that was passed in 2004 that helps fund projects in the Regional Transportation Plan. The revenues are probably about $2 billion less than originally forecasted, Banta said, which is why they have had to prioritize some of the capital improvement projects and expansion plans.