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Did you know that if our region implemented commuter rail today, we would immediately become one of the top 10 commuter rail systems in the country?

Farther/Faster: What Could Commuter Rail Mean?

Transportation, CommuterRail

Did you know that if our region implemented commuter rail today, we would immediately become one of the top 10 commuter rail systems in the country?

The Maricopa Association of Governments has updated its Regional Commuter Rail System Study, first done in 2010. The new study provides a fresh look at the planned commuter rail system, projected ridership, cost estimates, benefits to the region, and other related data.

The proposed 110-mile system is based on four existing freight rail corridors that would connect 18 community centers/urban cores and two airports. It would give a higher speed, longer distance travel option for commuters to a variety of housing opportunities, jobs, and entertainment and cultural centers.

Commuter Rail Study Map

The study estimates weekday ridership at about 21,000, which would place the Maricopa region in the top 10 of commuter rail systems in the country. Capital costs per mile would run about $24 million. Basing a fare assumption of $3 dollars one-way, the estimated fare recovery is about 36-40 percent.

Discussion points included what impact the number of riders on commuter rail would have on reducing traffic congestion. MAG staff informed the Regional Council that the proposed rail corridors are different from any other transit mode, but even in the metropolitan areas with the highest ridership of commuter rail, traditionally only about 4 percent of daily trips use public transit. MAG Executive Director Eric Anderson noted that estimates on return on investment are exactly the type of data members need in order to make informed decisions about transit options in the next Regional Transportation Plan. New transportation technologies also will be a factor, and more technical studies are needed to inform the policy discussion.

What is Regional Commuter Rail (table)

Next steps for potential implementation include updating ridership forecasts, coordinating with the railroads, working out legal issues, and identifying funding. Rail operations would likely begin three to five years after funding commitments.

Published September 26, 2018

About MAG

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

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