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January 13, 2020


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Thanks for sharing your long experience riding city buses across the country, Jon. It's clear how much you appreciate Seattle's availability of transit—because you know what it's like to live without it.

A few years ago, I lived without a car for 9 months with my parents in a suburb north of Dallas and had to walk half an hour just to get to the closest bus stop…to catch a bus that only came by once every 30 minutes on weekdays. I now own a car, but I'm nevertheless grateful to live in downtown Phoenix, where I have the freedom to take the light rail or a plethora of buses (my apartment's got a 65 transit score). Now, if they could just get a heritage streetcar rolling down Grand Avenue…

I spent a week in Vienna, Austria and was amazed at just what you can do with a compact, densely populated city, transit-wise. Check this map from the City of Vienna.

"U" is the U-Bahn, that is, subway. "S" is the S-Bahn, suburban rail (or what we might call commuter rail). Regional rail is the connection to the national (ÖBB) Austrian rail network. The orange lines are electric trams. The blue lines are buses. The green lines are regional (intercity) buses.

So there you have it. Six flavors of mass transit. You can get on the subway or the tram or the train or the bus, or mix modes, and pretty much get very close to any destination you want, if not be deposited right on the doorstep.

Thanks for this memory Jon - brought back memories of elementary school when I would catch the tico logo buses to All About Books and Comics at 7th / Camelback and the Science Museum downtown. The $.35 fare provided a sense of freedom and adventure similar to when I learned to ride a bike or when I got my driver license.

You didn't live in the Hawaiian Apts. that used to be on the southeast corner of 36th / Campbell did you? That modest 2 story courtyard was our family business in the 1970's. My brother was the general contractor who built it (and was pressured/threatened by the mob to hire a certain plumbing sub-contractor) and my dad managed it. To this day, many of our life long family friends were tenants. It saddened me when it was torn down for the ultra-modern, overscaled, "luxury" steel and glass complex that is there now (although admittedly it's constructed of higher quality materials and the large balconies and views are probably pretty sweet)

Ex-Phx Planner, Yes! Those were the apartments. I lived there from 1975-78. The place was beautiful and well-run. And of course in those days no gate was needed on the breezeway.

Another example of what a small town Phoenix was/is.

Love the mob tale, too...so Phoenix.

buses work great when many go to the same place..phoenix (and tucson) have spent a lot of energy making sure a very few people go to exactly the same place from exactly the same place...

becuase they bought square miles and sold square feet.

we are designed as a commodity to be sold at a good price and secondarily as an easy place to live, to work, to enjoy.

"Jimmy the plumber?"

As in the Don Bolles case.

Wow, small world! I'm sure you crossed paths with my dad Howard and my other brother Ric who was the pool and general cleanup/maintenance boy. I still remember when my brother Greg told me the story about the mob threat. He was the oldest of 5 (I'm the youngest) and sort of larger than life to us. He was 6'6", a star athlete, and embodied the macho construction worker culture (he later became a real life cowboy on a spread in New Mexico when his construction company folded in the early 80's recession). As he was telling me the story, I was waiting and fully expected him to conclude with how he told them to kiss his ass and f-ck off. Instead, for the first and maybe only time I ever saw intimidation in his eyes, his voice softened and he told us about how he feared for his life, backed down and hired the contractor. Cal, I don't think he mentioned the name of the guy/company but I'm sure he would've if he was involved in the Bolles killing.

I think before hearing that story I always thought of the mafia as something in the movies or just a thing on the east coast. After that, and when bodies were discovered at the notorious Ernesto's Backstreet restaurant a couple blocks from our house at 36th / Indian School, I realized how pervasive and powerful the mob was (is?) in Phoenix.

Ex Phx Planner, I remember your dad and brother. Great people. It was a wonderful place to live. And so shady.

My neighbor had been relocated to Phoenix after his dad was killed by the Chicago mob. After Bolles, he was very frightened. "He was warned," he said. "They always warn you." When he came home at night, he would repeatedly circle the block, making sure it was safe.

As regular readers know, I was one call rotation away from going on the Bolles call. But we caught a 962 (auto collision with injuries) at 16th Street and Southern.

In 74 I rode the bus from about 2700 W Thunderbird to 620 W Washington and paid my fare. Most mornings two plainclothes county detectives would get on at MetroCenter and badge the bus driver and not pay. In 75 as President of the police union I ask for free public transportation for all city of Phoenix Employees.
That resulted in Mayor Timothy Barrow and the council approving free rides for cops, firefighters and postal employees. Today city employees enjoy free and discounted fares on buses and light rail.

Was not familiar with "Ernesto's" so I Googled...the rabbit hole of past Phoenix criminals never disappoints.

For anyone interested ...


Thanks Ex Phx Planner, and apologies for the hijack.

Nice picture of the city bus, I barely remember the color scheme of that era.

Thank you RC for the post.

Thanks for the article 100 octane. Yeah, I grew up in that part of East Phoenix and was certainly a mob hot spot. I knew the bougie 40th and Campbell La Grande Orange corner used to be mob owned but didn't know that all the executions that the mobster Sbrocca (who also laundred money for the famous AZScam scandel) ordered took place right there at Ristorante Pronto. I went into that place one time as a boy and you knew immediately that something wasn't right. It was empty, dark, and the employees were sitting in a booth and startled to see anyone come in and didn't seem happy about it. My mom immediately sensed something was off and asked to see the menu when we walked in, thanked them politely and we quickly left.

It's interesting to learn about how places can be shaped by various sub-cultures. Awhile back I was told that many of the llanteras (Mexican tire shops) that seem to be every where in Phx are really cartel trafficking nodes (tires are one of the primary smuggling containers). My initial reaction was BS but then I remember Phx's deep shadow economy history.

"It's interesting to learn about how places can be shaped by various sub-cultures"

One of the themes that RC has visited many times is that Phoenix has always suffered from the fact that no one (with authority) cares about it. So it gets left to mobsters, corrupt politicians, developers and so forth.

In that environment such sub-cultures can flourish.

"No one with authority cares"
I may get back to you on that.


No, I agree with you Octane. Back a few weeks ago I put together some words after the Arizona Republic ran a series on Don Bolles. It sorta fits with what you said. I sent it off to Jon a couple of minutes ago.

I was thinking that you were referring to Mother Nature, or something similar.

Speaking of Don Bolles...



100 Octane. Thanks for the dump. The feds have sat on the Bolles files (what little they authored)for years. However a few years ago a person representing some indigenous folks had most everything. That person shared those with reliable sources.

Busses, light rail, public transportation. Every day in Jon's front pages and Arizona news i read downsizing.The folks at the state Capitol keeo doing everything they can to down size state government. The Sheriff's should have seen the state prison to county jail move, coming. Dont plan on legislature being in favor of anything but cars and freeways.

100 octane my email is [email protected]
Id like to put you in contact with an author.

Under Phoenix and Arizona news in this blog there are six stories that deal with the destruction of Arizona by more people more sprawl. Makes me wanna puke.

Arizona-The Grand Sprawl State

"Inequality is inextricably linked to civilization. "
Based on the book,
"The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty First Century"

I always thought of Phoenix as the city whose culture was business.

I read a piece of graffiti in another place that said 'a city without art has no soul'.

I've been waiting for the soul of Phoenix to rise...

Drive down Oak between 14th and 15th street.

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