Letters From the Issue of Thursday, January 11, 2007

Runaway Train

Hate to say we told you so, but . . . : Ray Stern's "Stop Your Railing!" article (December 28) did everything expected of a New Times exposé. It showed the good, the bad and even the structurally ugly specifics of a very visible regional situation.

However, as a continuing vocal proponent of light rail in the Valley, while I winced while reading a recounting of the temporary bads I already knew, I was pleasantly surprised to read Stern unveiling some positives I didn't even know about! And after Stern's even-handed effort, all I can say to the remaining light-rail opponents is: "Stop your railing! We told you so!"
Scott Hume, Phoenix

Money train: I read your article regarding light rail. I have but one thing to say: The whole project is a ridiculous waste of money. There is a very simple solution to the problem of commuter damage control: Put more buses on the lines already set up, and hey, maybe add a few more routes.

Phoenix is backwards in spending millions of dollars on a project to compete with other cities, and thereby try to become what it isn't. The millions spent on this little fantasy could be put to better use. Open your eyes, Phoenix!
Lori Chinnici, Phoenix

Bursting the bubble: I was one of those who thought that light rail was a disaster until I read Ray Stern's excellent story. I thought that loads of businesses along the light-rail route and beyond had closed because of the construction, when it seems that only one closed business could be verified.

What the story did was make me think. Sure, there are lots of construction woes, but what did we think when we approved facets of the project — that there would be no disruption when a rapid-transit line is installed?!

As the story says, the city is a war zone where the construction is going on. I have stopped going downtown because of all the driving and parking problems. It's obvious that businesses are suffering, but it's also obvious (after reading Stern's story) that the places that manage to hang on will be making more money than they had ever hoped to earn because the rail line is nearby. That is, the payoff will come later.

Good job at bursting the light-rail naysayers' stupid bubble!
Trent Jones, Phoenix

An opportunity missed: Ray Stern's cover story about the effects of light-rail construction on Valley businesses was 5,467 words of a missed opportunity or lack of courage to tell the real story: the documented increase in air pollution, congestion and crime that light-rail transit or modern streetcar will bring to the Valley.

That there is pain during the building process is a given. The fallacy is that, after the labor pains, we will be presented with a beautiful baby that will make all the temporary hardships worth the suffering. Wrong.

Light rail is Rosemary's baby, and this monster will suck us dry while fouling itself with air pollution and congestion it promises to cure.

No amount of "the cool factor" that light-rail backers attribute to the Japanese Kinkisharyo train cars can make up for the fact that this is all about taxpayer-funded transit-oriented development for the overhyped creative classes. It has nothing to do with moving a pitiful small percentage of folks from point A to point B.

Scottsdale Mayor Mary Manross publicly admitted as much.

It is false advertising to show sleek mockups of a light-rail car without the ugly overhead tangle of wires that must be present in order to move the car. But, hey, everybody's doing it, so why not?
Becky Fenger, Phoenix

A streetcar named "tax relief": I found it interesting that so many businesses crying the blues over light rail haven't actually gone out of business, but are claiming they may go out of business.

Like your writer, the last time I frequented George & Dragon, the place was hopping. I had to shoehorn in. Yet its owner is claiming he should be subsidized by the government because light rail is being built outside and he is suffering. Boo-hoo! The guy has suffered not at all, as far as most of us can see, and will be making a mint once the rail line stops out front.

On the other hand, I can't blame him for crying (um, trying).

Loved your reference to G&D being a great dive bar. You're right; it's the best dive bar in Phoenix, and probably the richest!
Johnny Davis, Phoenix

The bus stops here: I think you are mistaken on several subjects concerning light rail. The 26,000 is ridership, not people. Since those who go to town will probably return, there are only 13,000 people estimated to ride the trolley.

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