On Aug. 10, the Senate passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. The House passed the bill on Nov. 12 and President Joe Biden signed the bill on Nov. 15.
This bill is special because it was a bipartisan bill. (That means both Republicans and Democrats voted to pass it). They agreed to give money to different states to help transit, build and fix roadways, and help clean up carbon emissions (reduce pollution). It will also help people who live in rural areas and also help people who live in rural areas and those with low income by giving them access to internet and clean water.
In Arizona, in addition to cleaning and resurfacing roads, one area this bill will affect is our transit system. We visited with Valley Metro’s sustainability coordinator, Mackenzie McGuffie, to find out more.
So, what will Valley Metro look like with this new funding? “I think expanding transit and (making) it more reliable. Another thing that’s really important for buses is that you want buses that can take you anywhere, but you also don’t want to wait that long for a bus,” explains McGuffie. “It makes a difference for a person if the bus comes every ten minutes or every 30 minutes. So, if we had more funding, we would be able to make the buses run more frequently.”
A big issue Phoenix faces is that it is very spread out. Part of the infrastructure bill can be used to help reach those that are further out. “So, if we are able to get more funding then, yeah, we would be able to expand light rail and get more transit service to cover our whole area much better,” says McGuffie.
In addition, Valley Metro hopes to invest in eight electric buses. This would help reduce carbon emissions. “We haven’t gotten (the electric buses), just because of funding. They are a lot more expensive than the kind of buses we have now,” comments McGuffie. Since they have come out, electric buses have shown to be way more quiet, smooth, and reliable.
When you drive around, you may notice that some streets are already under construction. Valley Metro is currently trying to make their routes bigger and longer for buses and light rail.
When we asked that would the bill affect most, McGuffie replied, “It will impact both…. but I think with electric buses it will have the (biggest) impact, but it will also help light rails. We are trying to expand. I mean we have multiple lines under construction right now—going to south Phoenix, further north into Phoenix and to the capitol.”
As you can see, Valley Metro is working hard behind the scenes to provide a quiet, smooth and reliable ride. This infrastructure bill will allow them to grow and to bring people more service. They hope to help reduce carbon emissions so that Phoenix can have a better and healthier transit system.