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November 14, 2012


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Jon -

Noticed the train frequency (or lack thereof) this past weekend while visiting mom.

Stayed downtown at the new Palomar - nice new boutiquey digs for a weekend, but mom lives at 7th avenue and Colter.

Each time we went to ride the light rail, we had to wait 10 minutes, up from our previous worst, 4 minutes. Yes, I'm an engineer, and yes I time this shit, and yes, I've been doing it for the past 2 1/2 years riding the light rail. Be-cause, I want it to succeed!

So, I'll be back down the first weekend of December, and I'll see if things have improved - it could've been a fluke. Maybe I'll follow up later with any results.

The light rail trains in Phoenix run on a frequency that fluctuates between 7-12 minutes during the day. Late night trains (until 12am or 2am on the weekends)have 20 minute headway. On average, as has been my observation as a daily passenger, headway averages 8-10 minutes during the day. The frequency does feel much worse on Sundays and holidays however...

pSf, I timed it on two weekdays and it was between 15 and 18 minutes. Hope that was an anomaly but I watched this on 3 weekdays

15-18 minutes? Wow, that must have been an anomaly because I would be pissed if I had to wait that long. I have a habit of showing up at stations just when the train is pulling away...so I often get stuck waiting for the next one. Later at night (after 8 pm) is the only time that I have actually had to wait anywhere near, or over, 15 minutes. After 10 pm you WILL be waiting for 18-20 minutes if you don't know the schedule.

"this is a scandal crying for investigation and reporting."
And U suppose one criminal is going to investigate another partner in crime? And Lacey is gone with the big bucks so will the New Times be able to launch an investigative report. And do U really believe Arizona hispanics will find a Pancho Villa?
77 percent of NM Hispanics voted for Obama.

re mass transit, PBS ran a segment today with the emphasis NOT on building MORE mass transit but on developing programs to get people out of their cars into existing public transportation

The Nile, Egypt's lifeline, comes under threat || LA Times
and how soon will a kilo of water cost more than a kilo of gold or weed

The New Confederate state of Arizona and its light rail train to nowhere.

The move from Chandler is now complete. I shop at ChrisTown now. The wife's commute is 5 mins. I drop off both school kids at separate facilities in 15 mins from the new house.

The new place is half the size of the Chandler house but I'm really loving the convenience of living central around the places we do things at everyday.

For sure, one wonders how Helen Purcell's office and its procedures have escaped investigation. To her credit, she did go on Channel 12 but there's been no real analysis of what went wrong.


How's the new neighborhood?

I ask because there appears to be misconceptions out there.

I mentioned to a co-worker that I was going to a happy hour in downtown Mesa. The reaction was "you're going where all the homeless bums and gangs are hanging around?'. The reality is that Downtown Mesa is a comfortable, family safe place to go for an evening out. I was surprised by the misconception. I told the co-worker that she needs to get out more often. She normally spends her life hiding out from "them" in her safe Mormon enclave of Greenfield and MacKellips.

My conception of the Christown area is questionable, due to "the word on the street".

The Christown area used to be my favorite part of the whole valley.

I hope you have good news about the area.

With Mesa being the CORE of the valley, I hope the "suburbs" like Phoenix are doing well.

Arizona sucks.

one more . . .



Seattle's light rail started out with 7 minutes at rush hours, 10 minutes before and between and 15 minutes late night. I see the trains every day (they run through parking lot of my office) but I rarely ride them, so I couldn't tell you what they do today.

The State of Washington still has 140,000 votes to count as of 4:00 PM today, but I can watch them do it on a series of webcams. So we're in the same class as Florida and Arizona.

Most of the things I voted for have passed and most of the things I voted against have failed, for what its worth.

Looking forward to the next Mapstone.

Reb if U get to Christown at dawn U can catch a glimpse of Old Man Chris's ghost on his ghost tractor disking the asphalt

that would be the south parking lot

Cal, you know the chances of me getting anywhere at dawn are slim and none.

Does he do an evening show?

No too many shoppers at Super Target and Harkins Christown theater.

Side note: "jmav" posted an interesting comment in the "What now?" thread regarding Social Security and Medicare budgetary problems, and the general question of taxes and funding. I've posted a follow-up.


AZRebel wrote:

"I mentioned to a co-worker that I was going to a happy hour in downtown Mesa."

Have you moved recently? Back in July you said you were living in Show Low, which is about 166 miles or 3 hours driving time from Mesa.

"My conception of the Christown area is questionable, due to 'the word on the street'."

I don't know what kind of "word on the street" there would be about Chris Town in either Show Low or Mesa. If you mean "cal Lash" you should say so.


Mr. Talton wrote:

"As of Wednesday, the state was still counting ballots....This affront to democracy is not mere incompetence but a huge opportunity for mischief — not the virtually nonexistent vote fraud the GOP claims, but official vote suppression and disenfranchisement..."

I agree. Does anyone really understand the byzantine rules governing "provisional" and "conditional provisional" ballots?

I refer not only to uncounted ballots, but ballots that have been and will be, post-election, examined but discarded for procedural reasons.

What portion of the electorate (e.g., university students) will be discouraged from making their vote count, simply because the form of identification they provided earlier was inadequate, and they don't have the time, energy, or documentation to come back and submit themselves to bureaucratic cross-examination in order to assert their basic right as citizens to vote?

Not only that, what about the votes lost because those provisional voters earlier turned away consider the most important of the political contests (the U.S. presidency) to be decisively determined, and who are less willing to be put to further trouble, indignity, and disruption of personal, academic, or career activities, to insure that their votes in lesser races are properly counted?

Mr. Talton wrote:

"GPEC should have offices in California. So should the city of Phoenix, whose interests GPEC can't really address....Phoenix won a good deal of back-office work from California starting in the 1990s. That stagnated in the 2000s; cheaper places can be found."

Something is better than nothing, but this assessment shows that defining Arizona (or Greater Phoenix) economic prospects in terms of begging California's table-leavings can only be unsatisfying, at best.

Arizona needs to determine its unique (or at least special) advantages -- those which stem, or potentially stem, from its geography, its natural resources, its proximity to Mexico and its existence as a waystation to California, Texas, and elsewhere, and then apply state resources to maximize those advantages.

How can Arizona use its highway system, linking both itself with regional states, and regional states with each other (who need to travel through Arizona else pay through the nose for a detour), to raise revenues from commercial trucking in a targeted fashion that doesn't penalize tourism?

How can Arizona increase tourism?

How can Arizona encourage investment by Canadian and Mexican investors as well as those from other states?

How can Arizona increase the profitability and marketability of its mining operations while using these to raise additional government revenues?


I have a place outside of Show Low and a place in Mesa.

Don't think cal and I ever specifically discussed Christown.

The "word on the street" came from friends and family who have had occasion to travel to or through the Christown area. I was saddened by their bleak descriptions of the area.

Reb try and pay attention.

At my age I only have opinions. I have been advised that just having an opinion is old fashion. Now one can have their own set of facts and and their own opinion.

Preach on, Officer Cal. Preach on.

Christown parking lot has been an outstanding place for meth heads to steal older cars and sell them to chop shop organizations for $200 to $300 per car. PPD undercover auto theft detail works the lot full time.

Economic development Arizona style.

The potential economic benefits of Arizona's unique proximity to Mexico is sadly squander by its continental reputation of intolerance to immigrants and Mexicans in particular. Although Uncle Joe A and Bruja B will someday go, their Nativist and racist legacy will remain imprinted in the subconscious minds of many Arizonans.

The nation's fringe right constitutes a reliable voting majority in Arizona.

Good luck with that baggage while trying to leverage Arizona's proximity to Mexico.


The new neighborhood is great. There's alot going on around us and that took a week to get used to. Since my wife grew up in one of the biggest cities of the World she finds the city noise soothing. lol. The best part is getting our kids to their many events is a snap now. Almost no planning needed since nearly everything is less than 3.5 miles away instead of 25-30.

Two awesome upgrades are the proximity to canal bike paths and the Vig Uptown.

To the guy who said Arizona sucks... I gotta say, "Not for us". The kids dismiss moving back to the SF Bay Area, where my wife's home office is. Only Seattle (Due to all the cousins there.) and LA (More family and decent weather.) could be entertained. They both love their schools here so much its hard for me to imagine a better place for us to be.

Christown: The shopping center is clean and fairly well organized. The best small YMCa is just south a block.
The negiborhood to the east is populated by some upscale older homes. To the north and west are older modest homes.
to the south are a number of low income homes, and apartments. South of Camelback are apartments rented very low income and on welfare folks. A mission for the poor and mentally ill is south of the Grand canal on 19th Avenue.
Phoenix College is close by and across the street are a Persian cafe, a decent Hamburger joint and a couple of cute nic-nack shops. At 19th avenue and Glendale is a large Fry's market.
This area is alos home to a large Jewish population and supports the Jewish community center. And City of Phoenix maintains a golf course. There are two banks and the Baptist hospital all within walking distance of 19th and Bethany. And of course (we built it you bastards) Jon's light rail.

Gone is the old Bobs Restaurant on the SE corner of 19th and Bethany Home. Three Hundred Bowl where I got to bowl for free as I was dating Roz, the owners daughter.
Nelsons swimming pool at 19th avenue and the Grand Canal. And an old girlfriend girl that lived at 2000 west San Juan.

Well put Cal!

We got outbid for 2 houses within close walking distance of the golf course. Not that I play but I love to go to driving ranges.

I think the area is on its way back with the light rail and the modest uptick in the economy.

The 7th Street area continues to improve from Camelback to Northern. New restaurants and more commerce it seems recently.

When I was a young breakfast cook on fire, I was loaned out for a couple of Sunday "brunchtimes" at the Bob's Big Boy #1 there on Central. The busiest store in the Valley at the time (#4 on Indian School was 2nd, #3 on Scottsdale & McDowell - my "home" store - was in third place.)

Nice breakdown, cal. Something vaguely machine-like in its efficiency, really...

Correction: Christown Bob's was store #3(I momentarily forget my home store's number!) and the number one busiest, though I worked at the original Central & Thomas store as well.)

jmav nails it:
"The potential economic benefits of Arizona's unique proximity to Mexico is sadly squander(ed) by its continental reputation of intolerance to immigrants and Mexicans in particular." Let's also add MEXI-PHOBIA, where evwn Rocky Point is thought to be unsafe by the scaredy-cats . . young and old.

As long as Bruja and Joe are in office, I don't anticipate any enlightened overtures to economic development between our two countries. And Mexico shares responsibility here, but that's best addressed by those with more balanced views than mine.

Does Chris's ghost sleep in the ditches?

Chris and the ghost of my dad the Zanjero can been seen at dusk drinking a beer at the weir box on 15th avenue near the golf course.

Petro said, "mechanical like"
at 72 hard to find the avant grade style. I am crystalizing into a the tin man and seeking a really cool brain to implant into my helmet.

jmav wrote:

"Good luck with that baggage (SB 1070, Arpaio's sweeps and rhetoric) while trying to leverage Arizona's proximity to Mexico."

Well, yeah. Good point.

There are three parts of the equation: Arizona exports to Mexico; manufacturing within Mexico by Arizona-headquartered corporations which send a large portion of revenues back to the state; and tourism and other local spending by Mexican visitors.

Obviously, tourism from Mexico is the one most likely to be affected by a bad reputation. But it's difficult to substantiate and quantify this suspicion, because recent figures are hard to find: the Arizona Office of Tourism has 2011 figures for overseas and Canadian visitors (even breaking the latter down by major provinces) but for Mexico the most recent data is 2007-8.


Whether this is because the figures show a downturn that is potentially politically embarrassing, or for some other reason, I don't know: but considering the amount which Mexican tourists spent here prior to the recession, it's clearly incompetent.

According to the U of A study, "Each day, on average, more than 65,000 Mexican residents come to Arizona to work, visit friends and relatives, recreate and shop. Each day, they spend over $7,350,000 in Arizona’s stores, restaurants, hotels and other businesses, and thus contribute substantially to Arizona’s export trade with Mexico."

That works out to $2.7 billion per year.


The 2011 figures for Canadian visitors show 704,000 over the year, with an average spending of roughly $1,140 per visit, which comes to $803 million annually, or less than 1/3 of Mexican visitor spending four years ago.

Maybe there is some technical reason for the failure to keep current figures on Mexican visitors to Arizona? The Mexico data come from a University of Arizona study; the Canada data (which are extensive but concentrated in tabular form) come from Statistics Canada and the Bank of Canada. But this is cutting Arizona too much slack: what academic researchers can discover, can be replicated, and the state surely has the money to commission such studies if they choose to. More likely, they have the data but choose to sit on it.
(Are there any well-informed commenters on this matter?)

Here are two obvious problems that might be solved sooner if legislators were more concerned about getting trade and visitor dollars into Arizona and less concerned about getting guns into school despite the opposition from police and school administrators:

* Slow border crossing times, especially for commercial traffic entering the United States from Mexico. Customs is woefully understaffed and in fact the agency admits it loses more agents from attrition than are replaced by new hires.

"A Department of Commerce report in 2008 put the waiting costs all along the (U.S.) border at $116 million a minute. But somehow, those millions haven’t translated into more personnel."

"Starting in 2005, the U.S. Border Patrol went on a hiring binge, adding 6,000 new agents. But Customs stayed stagnant, in fact, losing nearly 500 officers between 2009 and 2011, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO)."


Now, I know that this is in part a federal matter, but it's a matter of record in recent years that Republican congressional representatives in Arizona have opposed budget increases to speed up entry by increasing the number of customs inspectors and facilities, on the general principle that they didn't want to make it any easier for goods and persons from Mexico to get into the state and the nation. Crazy.

There are also privately funded non-commercial crossings in the works that might help take some of the pressure off customs inspectors, which Arizona could certainly support.

* Smog at the Grand Canyon and perpetually underfunded park budgets.

"Most of the issues raised would require significant amounts of money to fix, changes in state and federal policies, concessions by private businesses, or all of those, but the association said if the problems are left unchecked, the very nature of the park could change forever. Future visitors could find the most majestic views obscured, and habitats for native species could vanish."

This is also a commercial problem of vast proportions, and Republican state legislators refuse to take the necessary steps to restore the Canyon. If you were Joe Shmoe from Peoria and all you saw was a googled image of smog-obscured vistas (already common), would you want to come?

Out of time today.

Emil has the analytical skills to put a finer focus on the dysfunction between AZ and Mexico and I'd appreciate some expanded input on this theme of "building the future together".

for 30 years there has been scuttlebut that a major tobacco plant has had a ready to operste MJ packaging plant in Mexico.

We don't need no steenkeeng packaging...


kicking the can?

90% of congress got re-elected.

morecleanair wrote:

"Emil has the analytical skills to put a finer focus on the dysfunction between AZ and Mexico and I'd appreciate some expanded input on this theme of 'building the future together'. "

Thanks for the vote of confidence. Unfortunately, Emil is short of online time and has already used up most of this session's on other tasks. Also, I suspect that a "finer focus" will require additional research as well as cogitation (more online time consumption). But I'll put it on the back burner and let it simmer.

Perhaps some other parties can fill in some of the blanks?

Incidentally, I read something today in the Arizona Republic about vacant lots, which simultaneously says that:

* 43 percent of the land in Phoenix consists of vacant lots. Most of it isn't owned by the city, although the percentage of the city's downtown holdings are larger. (How large?)

* Phoenix does not offer any financial incentives to landowners to use vacant property.

Thanks Emil!
I'm too emotional to be rational about the Mexican government's draconian tourist policies, as they're stopping cars and taking turkeys as we speak. They have refined stupidity to an art form.

morecleanair might i arrange for u to visit with El Pastor in Juarez? Get a different perspective on Mexico.
Or maybe u would prefer to join me and SR Vargas in Santiago De Cuba for a smoke as Chapo de Mexico is not taking visitors as he is worried that they might fall victim to a DEA Drone attack

The chance of the current Gov of AZ and the movie star soon to be president de Mexico working out a economic package is a bad joke. Unless Mexico is going to supply the weed for that joke of the Az medical MJ program.

"building the future" is not about El Golfe De Mexique
but how we rise above being pond scum and plan a future in a galaxy far far away
hasta manana

Folks: I've had property/bank trust in Mexico for 30 years and want the best for our two countries, despite the natural tensions and dysfunction. I like the Mexican people and speak fractured Spanglish with them. They treat us with respect for the most part. Napolitano had us on a better path.

want the best for our two countries
Should go without saying, but it doesn't always work out that way - so I'm glad you said it, mca.

Sorry, I was short on time and forgot the link to the vacant lot story:


Mr. Talton wrote:

"Seattle's trains run about every 10 minutes; not so with PHoenix Area Rapid Transit (PHART — if they would have taken my advice on the name, the revenue from apparel, etc. would have paid for it)."

I just saw this. Hilarious! I'm trying to think of some marketing designs and commercial logos.

For gifts to the naysayers: T-shirts with the slogan "We paid $1.4 billion for 20 miles of track, and all I got was this lousy PHART!"

"Much of the time it was like waiting for the old Red Line buses. Light-rail needs high train frequency."

According to their website. trains arrive every 12 minutes from 7:30 am to 6:30 pm and every 20 minutes the rest of the time. What time was it and how long did you wait? Every 12 minutes seems pretty close to every 10 minutes.

Aside from yet another planned price hike for Valley Metro, the next big reform is giving private security guards the legal ability to issue civil citations for riders who don't have a transit pass. Thus far, only actual police can do this, and there are precious few of those riding the rails. (Well, they do after all have better things to do, like handle serious calls.)


I've said all along that failing to require riders to pay the fare BEFORE boarding through turnstyles -- properly designed so that they cannot be circumvented either laterally or by jumping them, with an easy-exit gate just BEFORE the turnstyle so that those who "forgot" their pass can leave the line quickly without holding others up -- is an invitation for abuse of tax dollars.

They provide free service and, OF COURSE, light rail ridership rockets upward. Brag, brag, brag, but who is paying for this triumph of modern civics? Bus riders.

A chimpanzee could design a jumper-proof turnstile system that uses a minimum of supervisory labor without impeding traffic. But that would require additional EXPENSE and would risk lower ridership, which places subsidies at risk.

Mr. Talton wrote:

"No disrespect, but I have to giggle at Chandler as 'Silicon Desert'. "

The hardcopy article had a list of top tech employers in Chandler, by number of jobs. Intel was at the top with 11,000 but the next highest on the list was around 1,500 if I remember correctly, though even that was misleading since that's the number of employees Microchip Technology has in Chandler AND Tempe. And the jobs numbers in the list only got smaller after Number Two.

So, Chandler's big tech status relies, as Mr. Talton points out, on the presence of Intel. It's the anchor-store at the mall that is Chandler. Should that big-box employer diminish its presence in any significant way for any reason, guess what happens to the rest of the stores at the mall?

The Mayor of Chandler is probably on call to give foot-rubs at Intel board meetings. Rub, monkey, rub! (Okay, maybe he delegates that task.)

A large number of very small tech start-ups is fine. They're number four in the nation, according to the article. But what percentage of those start-ups fail, and how many net jobs do they bring to the city on an annual basis?

Don't expect to find elementary context like that provided by the Arizona Republic. It's too busy being a shameless booster for local bigshots.

Speaking of which, Steve Sanghi is a world-class douchebag. His column appears in the business section of the Arizona Republic (less frequently lately, thank goodness). Not long ago he was propagandizing against Obama, claiming that half the country pays no federal taxes. Countless attempts by readers to correct him (nearly everyone pays PAYROLL taxes) were either ignored or edited into feebly unconvincing shreds in a follow-up column, which used the edited criticisms to FURTHER CONFIRM the same, erroneous thesis. Sanghi is not an idiot: he knows better than this but simply has no integrity.

The building on Whiskey Row that burned has already been demolished. Local Architect Bill Otwell, who directed the restoration of numerous historic buildings, including Prescott's Elks Opera House and Flagstaff's train depot has submitted a design for the new building:


I'm pretty sure that something will be built there. Whiskey Row is at about 100% occupancy, I think. I go to downtown Phoenix and downtown Tucson fairly often, on weekends. Barring a sporting event in Phoenix, Prescott's downtown is always bustling with people compared to the big cities down south.

Public transportation fare problems?

What Really Happens When a City Makes Its Transit System Free?

But as it turns out, the change nearly paid for itself. Forty-seven percent of bus-goers were already riding for free, and tickets covered only 14 percent of the city’s transit expenses. By slightly increasing the transit tax on big local businesses while eliminating the costs of printing, ticket-punching technology and the human infrastructure of ticket sales, the city turned a profit on the transit system in ’03, ’04, ’05, and ’07...

I'm pretty sure that 47% of the passenger load here aren't "freeloaders", but it's a public good, right?

Of course, AZ is the perfect place to bring up an idea like that... :)

Excellent Point Petro.

Morecleanair. If we could remove the politicians from the equation the US and Mexico might have better relations.

I grew up in the AZ fields of John Jacobs lettuce, grapes, carrots and Carol Arthur sweet potatoes farms. Cesar Chavez was a force. I lived with the Valdez's at 2300 West Dunlap during the summer months from ages 14,15 and 16. My plaster hod carrier in 59 was identified in his shallow grave by his full back virgin Mary tattoo. Drug distribution was his week end job. My closest male friends in the 50's were Hispanics, my girl friends were Hispanic and American Indians and that continues today. I was the administrative assistant to Police Chief Ruben Ortega. To this day I count more Hispanics as acquaintances than others. They span from AZ to the southern most border of Mexico. Again, remove the politicos and life on both sides of the border will be better life.
Try fronteralist.org for reporting from Mexico

Correction 2300 West Dunlap was not yet in existence it was still 2300 West Olive in the early 50's.

On immigration: hope the far right conservatives are finally beginning to read the tea leaves on comprehensive reform. Some Southern Senators (DeMint for ex) will fight it as long as they can, but it sounds like there's a sea change coming. Jeb Bush's influence should be a net positive, if he can counter the stigma from his brother . . who actually had the right idea before it was snuffed.

Ross Doucheat, er, Douthat is implying that immigrants are increasingly a pro-Democratic block because they are assimilating downward. The more America loses, the more Democrats win!

What a douthe.

The Liberal Gloat

L'esprit d'escalier, or why comment threads can be more fun that personal conversations:

On Il Douche, it's like arguing that when the house is on fire, the firefighters tend to show up.

Those fucking firefighters.

Ugh. Ross Douthat. Why he has been given a national platform from which to spout pedantic Papist twatwafflery is beyond me. Shorter every Douthat column ever: "Women are dumb whores!"

Regarding low taxes and light regulation to lure businesses: I'm convinced it is not and has never been about economic growth or success of a state. It is rooted in ideology - the desire to create a deeply unequal society. Period.

Petro, I don't know what kind of fare system they had in the little French town on Chateauroux, but here in Phoenix it's almost impossible for bus riders to ride for free.

The driver checks all incoming passengers to make sure that they slide or insert their pass (which contains a magnetized data strip making fraud impossible for the average citizen) or else insert their cash. The driver must also push a separate button counting each rider who pays the fare.

The only way to cheat the system is to obtain a pass without paying for it, from a disembarking passenger or from the ground or a trash can. That isn't as easy as you might imagine, given the fact that the cost of a full-fare day pass purchased on board is $5.25 ($3.50 if purchased before boarding); and the odds of anyone getting a valid pass while waiting at a single location, without waiting for hours, are slim. Transit centers at Metro and Downtown have security watching for those attempting to obtain used passes. The vast majority of commuters do not have the time to play such games.

Light rail is another matter altogether. Anyone can board without supervision and without producing a pass. There is no "conductor" walking along the trains checking passes. (A few such employees on each train would solve the problem of ride fraud fairly quickly and inexpensively, particularly if they were legally empowered to issue civil tickets with fines and court appearances if the fine is challenged or unpaid.)

That said, OF COURSE mass transit should be FREE. The whole point is to encourage behavior that benefits society (such as decreasing air pollution from gasoline or diesel exhaust in cars and other private motor vehicles, etc.).

Tax things that you want to discourage (e.g., gasoline use) and use the tax revenues to pay for things that you want to encourage (mass transit) by subsidizing those things. At any rate, taxes of some sort must pay for transit systems to the extent that they are not covered by fares.

Free use of mass transit would vastly increase its use: and that, after all, is the whole point, unless you simply want to pose as environmentally or socially conscious by means of boutique projects that offer snappy sound bites but do little to solve serious problems.

Another idea: run mass transit as public, non-profit corporations. And no fat salaries for directors! Top salary for any single employee should not exceed $100,000.

Those running the company should have a direct stake in ensuring that maintenance is correctly carried out at proper intervals, that waste is kept to a minimum, and that cost-overruns are absent. (The direct stake is: get things done right, or you'll lose your cushy job and we'll do our best to make sure anyone asking us for a reference knows that you are an incompetent.)

At present, there are multiple layers of bureaucracy (both private and public) involved in mass transit. This reduces accountability because someone can always pass the buck. The complete or near complete lack of competition among private companies competing for bids to run mass transit also means that public transit officials have very little actual leverage over the executives of private companies should things go wrong.

We've just seen an example where the fines supposedly accrued by the major Valley Metro contractor (Veolia) for poor performance were waived -- more than $3 million of them.

The fines were probably inadequate to begin with. Veolia has absolutely no incentive to run transit efficiently because it knows it can make up the difference in subsidies elsewhere in the system.

A case in point: Veolia runs its air-conditioning without stop during the spring months, enough to reduce the temperature to such a chilly and uncomfortable extent that passengers open the windows to moderate the cold. The A/C never stops running while the buses are in use.

I've spoken to drivers about this and they claim to have no way to set the temperature. Apparently, Veolia has never heard of the newfangled invention call a "thermostat". This can be set by mechanics at a comfortable 78 degrees and the air will then run as much OR as little as it needs to maintain this.

Just imagine YOUR energy bill if you ran your house or apartment A/C this way! So much for private efficiency. Personally, I believe that Veolia knows it can pad its expenses by running up operating costs this way. No doubt it requires more frequent repair and replacement of parts, also; but they get a profit margin on these, too.

The fact remains that as long as Phoenix area mass transit is required to recoup a fixed percentage of costs from fare sales, free ridership on light rail means that bus riders end up paying for it, in the form of otherwise unnecessary fare increases.

The light rail company gets subsidies on a per rider basis, so it has every incentive to turn a blind eye to fare cheats to encourage higher ridership with de facto free service.

There is also a problem with those who are issued light rail passes by employers or schools, who fail to swipe them with each ride. That is common, and it results in the failure of the trip to be charged to the business or university account which is ostensibly paying for the trips. This is passed on to bus riders and others who must make up the fixed percentage of revenues deriving from fares.

Meanwhile, those light rail riders are still counted, because ridership counts are performed *automatically* by separate sensors as riders enter, so that the transit company still gets its per rider subsidy. (You can tell what the company values: automatic counting of riders, but "honor system" fares.)

The ones who suffer are the poorer than average bus riders.

...It is rooted in ideology - the desire to create a deeply unequal society. Period.

In all fairness (I know, "WHY?") - many believe that people are essentially unequal, and that their philosophy is the best response to that "fact."

Yes, it is stupid.

That said, OF COURSE mass transit should be FREE.

Right on, Emil!

Another fare dodge is youngish looking adults buying half-fare student rates - this is from conversations with the drivers. Less frequently, there are more mature people posing as "seniors." The operators are very spotty in requesting IDs, and the convenience and grocery store outlets will sell them to anyone, no questions asked (you could be buying them for your senior parents or student children, after all.)

My son, with misplaced good intentions, wonders why I won't do this myself... these kids today. :)

free. mass trainst and soylent green

I found your point about Chandler and its position as Silicon Desert to be bang on. Wonder what PR lackey came up with that piece of nonsense. Yes, the area's total dearth of tech-oriented VC is what will prevent it from every being a serious contender for tech brainpower, startups, etc.. It's one of the reasons we partially left the desert for Austin, perhaps the biggest threat to Silicon Valley's death grip on technology power. Austin has VCs, a shockingly powerful and neighborly tech community and great resources from UT. A blueprint for Phoenix to follow. Yes, in my dreams

Petro, any outlet that sells reduced fare passes (including Valley Metro transit centers) will sell them to anyone. That is because drivers ARE instructed to ask for IDs in cases where appearance is ambiguous.

There was once a time when they were quite lax about this. Now it is routine to request a reduced-fare ID.

"cal Lash" wrote:

"free. mass trainst and soylent green"

Be sure to let me know when they bottle you, so that I can put my dog on a dry-diet that week.

Petro, any outlet that sells reduced fare passes (including Valley Metro transit centers) will sell them to anyone. That is because drivers ARE instructed to ask for IDs in cases where appearance is ambiguous.

There was once a time when they were quite lax about this. Now it is routine to request a reduced-fare ID.

I don't doubt that these things are true - they make perfect sense. These are unambiguously declarative statements though - I would find it illuminating to know your sources for such certainty!

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