Local mayors support Amtrak proposal for a passenger rail connecting Tucson and Phoenix | News

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Local mayors support Amtrak proposal for a passenger rail connecting Tucson and Phoenix | News

Mayors of 11 parishes in Arizona, including Tucson, Phoenix, Oro Valley, and Marana, sent a letter to Arizona congressional leaders supporting Amtrak’s proposal for a passenger rail service between Tucson and Phoenix. “It is about a regional approach to economic development, because what is good for Tucson is good for the region,” said Romero on Tuesday in a media round table with Amtrak and city guides. “It’s really about giving all of our residents, including those who live south of Tucson in Nogales and Rio Rico, the opportunity to connect even tourists arriving from Sonora, Mexico, our main trading partner in Arizona. to Tucson. “The passenger railroad would be an alternative to driving a car, with a journey time five minutes shorter than the two-hour and 30-minute rush hour from Tucson to Phoenix,” said Amtrak President Stephen Gardner. The route would also connect other cities such as Marana, Coolidge and Goodyear. The railroad would offer three daily tours between Tucson, Phoenix and Buckeye, as well as one daily trip from Tucson to Los Angeles. The proposed route is part of Amtrak’s Corridor Vision Plan to expand low-carbon intercity passenger train services to 160 communities across the country over the next 15 years. “We have a global climate crisis. Some of the traffic jams are on the road and really in the air. We have a history of structural inequality in society, but especially in transportation, ”said Bill Flynn, CEO of Amtrak. “We believe that one way to address and overcome these challenges our country is facing is to expand intercity passenger train traffic and put in place a system that often provides reliable, sustainable and equitable alternatives to driving and flying . ”Long-term congestion problems on the corridor, as Tucson commuters are estimated to spend around 90% more time in traffic than elsewhere and commuters in major cities can experience up to 62 hours of congestion, which is estimated to cost around US $ 1,000 a year. The passenger railroad would require an investment of about $ 925 million and take about three years of construction to set up the service, Gardner said. Amtrak estimates the service would serve approximately 200,000 passengers annually, generate $ 77.7 million annually, and generate approximately $ 2.3 billion in economic activity from one-time capital investments. Mayor Ed Honea of ​​Marana, who signed the declaration of support, said his constituents could visit their families or travel to work, as his own family has done between San Diego and Los Angeles. He also noted that there are several hotel and motel complexes in the area around the Marana Station where people can stay for business. In addition to the leisure traveler, Visit Phoenix CEO Ron Price added that connecting these cities would increase interest in the area. “How much more attractive will we be when we land in the nearest corporate headquarters, the regional offices?” Asked Price. Amtrak would leverage and build on existing routes, using their new diesel multiple unit, which Gardner said is a “very effective train set”. Although the train is not electric, he said Amtrak is looking into various alternatives to offer “the lowest carbon service we can have”. – High-speed train would take time, but would be considered in the future as soon as there is an existing route. “High-speed trains from start to finish are typically a 15+ year project and I think we’ll look at that once there is an existing corridor and volumes,” said Flynn. “The approach here is to build the service, build the passenger numbers, and then examine what other future opportunities for service may exist.” Amtrak hopes to secure the federal funding needed to begin operations, including the agreements with the host railways, such as Union Pacific, to develop the operating rights. Gardner said they had proposed a “bold federal investment plan” to Congress to cover all initial capital costs and some early operating costs. They also advocated that Congress allocate additional funding to increase the operation of the trains, including the two they currently have, on their long-distance network from three-weekly to daily. Part of the proposal, according to Flynn, also provides for the need for operating resources to be transferred to the state after a certain period of time, ”said Romero.

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