In 2004, Maricopa County voters recognized the population growth and transportation challenges that will come to the region and approved Proposition 400. It was a balanced transportation plan that included freeway construction, road improvements, and additional buses and light rail service. The voters also saw a future need for commuter rail and provided money to study the viability of this transportation mode.
MAG initiated a Commuter Rail Strategic Planning effort for the MAG Region to define the requirements and steps needed for Maricopa and northern Pinal counties to plan for and implement commuter rail service. The one-year planning and stakeholder coordination process began in February 2007 with the formation of a Commuter Rail Stakeholders Group (CRSG). They provided comment on and help shape policy recommendations for implementing commuter rail in the study area. The CRSG consisted of public and private agencies and entities with interest in determining how to employ commuter rail services in the region.
From the Commuter Rail Strategic Plan in 2009 came a group of stakeholders from across the region that provided drive to further develop efforts to bring commuter rail to the region. Accordingly, MAG commissioned three additional planning studies: Systems Study, Grand Avenue Corridor Study and Yuma West Corridor Study. These studies were completed in Spring, 2010.
MAG is now working on the Regional Commuter Rail System Study Update. The goal of the study is to update the data in the MAG 2010 Commuter Rail System Study. Specifically new regional socioeconomic forecasts, revised ridership, cost estimates, corridor rankings, and information from other relevant passenger rail studies and technical content. Governance and indemnity/liability issues related to passenger rail implementation will also be studied. These elements must be addressed prior to any agreement between the owner railroads and the commuter rail governing/operating agency. Increased mobility to jobs, housing alternatives, and connectivity to downtowns, airports and entertainment centers, travel and tourism options, and traffic mitigation will also be evaluated. The results of the study will inform long-range high-capacity transit investments to support mobility throughout the region.
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In an effort to make information delivery faster, MAG has implemented an e-mail notification system that will make it easier to receive documents such as agendas, minutes and reports. Through a free subscription service called GovDelivery, MAG member agencies and the public will have better access to information that is posted on the MAG Web site.
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Transportation Planning Program Manager
Audra Koester Thomas