The city is a leader in the ongoing regional effort to improve the quality of life for residents. The city has invested more than $19 million in projects to reduce dust, the primary source of air pollution in the valley, through paving roads, shoulders and alleys. The city continues to invest in alternative fuel vehicles and clean fuels such as biodiesel. Transportation programs to provide public transit options and reduce congestion are also important tools to address air quality.
Air Quality Planning
Protecting and improving air quality is a critical issue for long-term sustainability in a large urban area. The city plays an active role in the regional effort to address air quality. Since the early 1980s, the Maricopa County area has dramatically reduced air pollution levels in spite of continued growth in population and vehicle traffic.
Dust pollution from construction, vehicle traffic, rock and gravel operations and other activities has been the most challenging air quality issue in recent years. In December 2002, the regional planning agency completed a new air quality plan which includes an extensive range of new dust control programs that are expected to eliminate violations of the particulate (dust) standard by 2010.
Stringent air quality programs by the state, county and municipal governments have eliminated violations of the carbon monoxide standard since the mid-1990s. In addition, there have also been no violations of the current ozone standard for several years. (In 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted a more stringent ozone standard.) The city will be an active participant in the regional effort to meet that new standard.
Dust Control Program
Caption:Rio Salado - before
The city has implemented one of the most aggressive municipal dust control programs in the valley. Between 1999 and 2006, the city has invested nearly $19 million in dust control programs. Examples are provided below.
- Paved 70 miles of roads.
- Completed 264 miles of an on-going asphalt treatment program for alleys.
- Transitioned to a full fleet of more efficient street sweepers which are designed to reduce dust.
- Designed an innovative vacuum system to reduce dust from crack seal operations.
- Trained nearly 3,600 city staff and 175 private contractors (2000-2007).
- Stabilized 12 acres on the banks of the Salt River.
- Conducted inspections of more than 300 city properties and applied dust control treatments as necessary.
- Maintained an aggressive enforcement of unpaved parking lots and vacant lots, issuing nearly 7,000 violations in 2007.
Caption:Rio Salado - after
Fire Place Ordinance
The city ordinance allows only clean-burning natural gas or other clean burning fireplaces in new or remodeled homes to reduce air pollution.
In 1987, the city adopted a bikeway program to encourage alternative modes of transportation, promote physical activity, and reduce emissions and traffic congestion. Over 520 miles of bike lanes, bike routes, and multiuse trails connect neighborhoods with employment centers, parks, schools, shopping, downtown, and other destinations. The standard design for all new arterial and collector streets includes bike lanes.
In 2002, Phoenix instituted the country's most sophisticated bicycle school safety program and was honored with the Edmund Richert Award for the single best contribution to safety. Phoenix holds an annual "Bike To Work with the Mayor" program to encourage employees to bike to work. The city has also constructed four grade separated crossings of arterial streets to facilitate the use of the Arizona Canal as a recreational and commuter bike route. Crossings have been completed at 43rd Avenue, Peoria Avenue, 19th Avenue and 29th Avenue, and are under construction at 51st Avenue and Cactus Road.
The METRO Light Rail is the newest element of the Valleywide transit system, designed to address the high capacity transit needs of the Valley and complement the growing bus system. Each 90-foot long electrically powered light rail car has the capacity to comfortably transport 180 people. Passes are sold at electronic fare vending machines and provide full accessibility to people with disabilities. In its first two months of regular service, the Light Rail system has beat ridership expectations and by every measure is carrying more riders than projected. The weekday goal was 26,000 boardings; Metro reported 30,600. More boardings ? 31,300 ? occurred on Saturdays, eclipsing the goal of 20,800.
The Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), adopted by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and financed partially under the one-half cent sales tax extension, identifies 37 miles of major light rail/high capacity transit corridors to be implemented by 2025. The 20-mile starter segment opened in December 2008 and planning is complete for another 4.6-mile extension to serve the North Mountain Village Core.
Clean Fuel Vehicles
The city has invested more than $33 million in alternative fuel programs since 1994, resulting in the Arizona Clean Cities Program recognizing Phoenix as a "Clean Air Champion". As of December 2007, the city's fleet consists of 1,300 light-duty compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, 343 liquefied natural gas (LNG) buses and trucks and 20 clean diesel buses with particulate traps and electronic engine controls to reduce emissions. The city operates 10 CNG and 3 LNG fueling sites, and over 1.1 million gallons of CNG and over 8.3 million gallons of LNG were used in 2006/2007. In addition, pilot programs are underway to evaluate synthetic and rerefined motor oil, hybrid vehicles, and LNG Solid Waste vehicles. Since November 2007, the Public Works and Aviation fleets have used only B20 Biodiesel to fuel their diesel vehicles.
- The Public Transit Department has over 355 Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) buses, representing 71 percent of the bus fleet. The Clean Bus Program earned a Clean Cities Partner award from the U.S. Department of Energy and the "Crescordia" award from the Valley Forward Association (Environmental Excellence Awards - 1999). These buses use an estimated 9 million gallons of LNG annually.
- The Aviation Department's inter-terminal and rental car center bus fleets are 100 percent compressed natural gas (CNG), with three CNG filling stations, which are open to the public. The Aviation Department was honored by the Clean Cities Program and the Valley Forward Association for this program in 2003.
Bus Rapid Transit (RAPID) & Expanded Local Bus Service
The RAPID bus service, initiated in 2003, is an extremely successful and popular commuting option for Valley residents. The RAPID buses are scheduled for frequent trips during morning and afternoon peak hours, use existing freeway HOV lanes, and operate as point-to-point service. The RAPID buses consist of a light weight composition body for greater fuel efficiency and less impact on roads and freeways. The fixed-route local bus service extended hours of service, and added buses and new bus routes to serve new areas. This program received the "Crescordia" award from the Valley Forward Association (Environmental Excellence Awards - 2004).
In 2007, the Phoenix Public Transit Department launched extensive transit improvements, investing nearly $70 million dollars on more bus service, new routes, new buses and more staff. Improvements resulted in an increase in ridership in the city - 45 million passengers boarding compared to 32 million in 2000. Other changes included:
- Three million more miles of new service added for an annual total of 21 million miles;
- $52 million in new transit vehicles, including 96 new 40-foot buses and 30 new 60-foot buses that use clean burning fuel;
- 536 new shade shelters;
- Increased bus frequency on 11 local routes, including more frequent stops during peak afternoon hours and Sunday service.
Bikes on Buses
The entire fixed route transit bus fleet has been equipped with bike racks. This increases accessibility, allows passengers alternative transportation for commuting, eliminates the need for personal vehicles for midday trips, and allows greater access to areas outside walking distance from the transit system. The city also provides bicycle lockers at all Phoenix's park-and-ride locations.
Neighborhood Circulator Bus Service
In 2001, Phoenix initiated a neighborhood transit service using fuel-efficient mini-buses in targeted neighborhoods and communities. The service connects to the regional transit system and encourages youth transit ridership. The neighborhood circulator was successfully piloted in Ahwatukee/Desert Foothills. In 2007, new neighborhood circulator routes were launched in the Maryvale/Desert Sky and Sunnyslope communities and two more are scheduled for 2008 in Desert Ridge and in northwest Phoenix.
Transit Vehicle Management System
Phoenix has implemented a GPS-based communication system that allows for better management and control of the transit fleet. Effective vehicle management results in more efficient operations as service can be redirected to provide better transit service. The system operating information is also used to create more efficient schedules. Real time bus arrival information is displayed on electronic message boards in the downtown area and Park and Ride lots.
Automated Bus Trip Planning
The Valley Metro Web site provides automated trip planning for Phoenix residents. The user friendly system assists passengers in planning trips from origin to destination to encourage transit usage.
Electronic Fare Collection Systems
In 2007, a new fare collection system was implemented with the installation of new fareboxes on all transit buses, allowing passengers to buy All-Day passes on the bus. A variety of bus passes of varying day-lengths (1,3,7 and 31 days) are now offered for purchase. Additionally, a more convenient Smart Card pass, that may eliminate a need for paper-based passes, is being tested.
Bus Pass Programs
Bus Card Plus, the Phoenix Union High School Pass Program, and the Arizona State University Pass help to encourage transit use by improving convenience, helping employers comply with travel reduction goals, and supporting transit fare subsidy programs.
Ride Share: Car and Van Pooling
Phoenix participates in a regional rideshare matching program to reduce traffic congestion, greenhouse gases, air pollution, and consumption of fuel. The city provides carpool parking subsidies, free bus passes, and emergency cab vouchers for all city employees. Phoenix also participates in the Valley Metro Vanpool Program that provides up to 15 commuters per van a ride to their place of employment. Also, several city departments have vehicles that are shared by department staff or other city employees.
Phoenix Dial-A-Ride & Reserve-A-Ride
Phoenix Dial-A-Ride transports ADA-certified passengers and persons with disabilities and seniors for a variety of trips using 123 paratransit vans. Also, the city's Human Services Department's Reserve-A-Ride Program has 38 mini buses which provides transportation to adults with permanent mobility disabilities.
Programs to reduce traffic congestion also help reduce air pollution by reducing travel times and vehicle idling. The city traffic light synchronization program reduces stop-and-go traffic and computerized traffic monitoring allows the Street Department to remotely control traffic signals to respond to accidents and other problems. By the end of 2007, more than two-thirds of the nearly 1000 traffic signals in Phoenix will be connected to the Traffic Management Center, allowing an unprecedented degree of responsiveness to changing traffic conditions. Computerized message boards provide information to help improve traffic flow for events.
Airport Traffic Congestion Reduction
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has implemented the following programs to reduce vehicle idling and related emissions:
- Automated Vehicle Identification (AVI) - The AVI system uses Radio Frequency Identification technology to track and identify taxies and other commercial vehicles as well as airport-owned shuttle buses. This system improves customer service by providing information on vehicles that are currently in the system, reducing wait times and congestion through fleet adjustments.
- Rental Car Center - In January of 2006, the opening of Sky Harbor's off-site consolidated rental car facility reduced the number of vehicles traveling through the airport. Transportation from the airport terminals to the rental car facility is provided by city-owned Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) clean fuel burning buses, replacing over 100 privately owned rental car company vehicles burning conventional fuels.
- Cell Phone Lots - In the free Cell Phone Lot, "pick up" drivers can wait in their vehicles for deplaning passengers. Flight and luggage status information is displayed on large screens allowing drivers to track the progress of their party, eliminating vehicles from circling the terminals. The Cell Phone Lots (formerly the Stage and Go program) won an innovative Use of Technology Award from Public Technologies, Inc.
- ExpressPay/Pay On Foot at East Economy Lot - Two airport public parking garages have a walk-up payment center in the garage lobby. The prepaid ticket will allow airport exit at one of the two dedicated ExpressPay lanes, reducing vehicle idling time.
Parks and Recreation Department Computerized Registration
The Parks and Recreation Department has implemented a class registration software system, "Active," which allows residents to register for department classes and activities from their homes or from any other computer eliminating trips to recreation centers. The system also allows customers to use credit cards to pay registration fees. The "Active" system is also being used for sports league scheduling and team sign-ups.
Library Electronic Information Delivery System
For many years, the Library has provided customers with the ability to conduct business and receive information using a personal computer. Card holders can access the Library's Web site and catalog from home, place a hold on materials; ask staff questions, and retrieve information from over 100 electronic databases the Library provides through special subscriptions 24 hours per day.