Phoenix, the fifth-largest metropolitan city in the country, continues to grow every day, and its transportation system cannot keep up.
To address the traffic congestion, the city of Phoenix is in the early stages of a long-term program that seeks public transportation efficiency.
In 2015, Phoenix voters approved Proposition 104 to develop a 35-year street and transit plan known as Transportation 2050. The Bus Rapid Transit is the key ingredient in growing our city's transportation system, Phoenix officials say.
BRT is the transportation of the future. Mobile fare payment, queue jump lanes, and transit signal priority BRT will improve Phoenix transportation reliability.
Compared with Phoenix light rail, The BRT can hold up to 150 passengers when the light rail can only hold 80. It will operate 12 hours a day and not only during rush hour.
A unique part of this project is the queue jump, a design to prefer buses in traffic to easily merge and get a head start of traffic.
Transit Signal Priority is a technique the BRT will use to ensure speed. For example, if the bus is approaching a green light that is about to turn yellow it may request for the
green light to be extended.
On Sept. 15, the city of Phoenix’s Transportation, Infrastructure, and Planning Committee held a meeting to discuss further plans for the project and update citizens on the progress.
Matthew Taunton, a transportation planner for HDR Inc., provided a transit analysis to the business of corridors for the project. In his findings, the three corridors with the highest ridership, best coverage, and most complimentary for future development are
Camelback Road to 24th Street, Thomas Road to 44th Street, and 35th Avenue to Van Buren Street.
Sara Kotecki, a BRT Administrator, gave a small briefing on the history of the program and updated residents on recent initiatives.
In May 2021, the Public Transit Department requested the Citizens Transportation Commission recommend City Council approval of
a potential corridor; which was approved by a unanimous vote.
Through the power of social media campaigns, virtual meetings with community groups, and news releases the BRT project has begun to reach the public and even provide feedback.
In June 2020, the team launched the BRT Survey, a 16-problem questionnaire to engage and provide insight into the demands of the public. The survey received 774 responses from throughout the Valley, city officials said.
Participants were asked to rank corridors by most preferred and whether or not they preferred a bus lane. The results of the survey mirrored the results of the transit analysis report.
Although the community has approved the three corridors, the only corridor currently underway is the 35th Avenue to Van Buren Street, which will run north to south. This is due to an ongoing analysis for high-capacity transit in West Phoenix.
City officials want to assure the most efficient means of transportation before final approval, officials said.
The next step for the project is to request action by Phoenix City Council to approve the initial BRT corridors. Ultimately, this is a small step in a 35-year project.
Karina I. Romero is a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.