The Arizona Free Enterprise Club today has released its comprehensive analysis of the Phoenix Transportation Plan, also known as Proposition 104. The initiative proposes to nearly double the transit sales tax to fund a multi-billion dollar transportation plan over the next 35 years.

Written by the renowned transportation expert Randal O’Toole, the paper conducts an in-depth review of the proposed transit plan and also investigates many of the claims made about the benefits of light rail in the Phoenix Metro area. The paper can be viewed online by clicking here. 

Some of the key findings in the paper include:

  • The oft-repeated claim that light rail has generated $7 Billion dollars in economic development is simply untrue. In fact, many of the projects included in this claim have never been built (like the Sycamore Station development) or involve projects that have nothing to do with light rail (such as the $600 million Convention Center Expansion, which was funded largely by state tax dollars).
  • The main beneficiaries of the transit plan appear to be contractors and developers who have projects near rail stations. The tax revenue from the plan combined with the generous subsidies offered to select developments ensures that this plan will benefit a few contractors and developers at the expense of others.
  • The plan is unbalanced and ignores vehicle street improvements. Despite the fact that only 3% of the population uses transit (less than 1% use light rail), 95% of the funding in the plan goes toward expanded bus and rail service. Only 3% goes toward vehicle street improvements.
  • Transit ridership actually fell after the light rail opened. From when light rail opened in 2009 through 2014, any gains in light rail ridership were offset by the loss of more than one bus rider. Ridership is still 1.2 million less per year than it was in 2009.
  • The transit plan as proposed will increase traffic congestion, energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the transit plan will use more energy and emit more pollution per passenger mile than the average SUV.

“Randal O’Toole does an excellent job in his analysis of debunking many of the claims made by supporters the Phoenix Transportation plan,” Free Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi said.

“Additionally, when considering the near doubling of the transit sales tax and the lack of accountability with how the money would be spent, this amounts to being a very bad investment for Phoenix taxpayers.”