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AARP AZ endorses Prop 479 to strengthen public transit for older adults

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Monday, June 17, 2024   

An Arizona organization said Proposition 479, which will be put to voters in November, is essential for the growth of the greater Phoenix area and will make communities more accessible for individuals of all ages.

Brendon Blake, director of advocacy for AARP Arizona, said Proposition 479 is a continuation of an existing, dedicated half-cent sales tax in Maricopa County that has been used to fund transportation projects. The half-cent sales tax was first enacted in 1985 with the approval of Proposition 300 and was renewed in 2004 with voters passing Proposition 400. Proposition 479 would extend the tax until 2045.

"It has come time that as we continue to see the region grow, we need to continue to make this investment," Blake asserted. "People have had the opportunity to vote on transportations stuff in the last few years and have always supported transportation."

Blake noted AARP supports a multimodal approach to transportation and believes older adults need multiple ways to get to social events, stay active and get to personal appointments. Blake argued having reliable, accessible and affordable transportation methods is crucial for Arizonans and called it a nonpartisan issue for voters as many associate investing in transportation infrastructure with attracting further economic development.

If Proposition 479 is approved by voters, just above 40% of the sales tax will be allocated to freeways and highways, 22.5% for arterial roads and regional transportation infrastructure and 37% to transit. The measure also promises to keep the region's average commute time to 30 minutes, even when factoring in projections of adding 1.7 million people and 900,000 jobs by 2050. Blake underscored the need for funding infrastructure is something Arizonans get.

"Historically, people in Maricopa County have recognized the need," Blake pointed out. "Some have speculated that it's because they come from other parts of the country and they see if you don't invest in transportation, then what that can look like, and I think that regardless of the reasoning that people see the need here, they have historically seen the need."

Blake added as the region grows, so must its transportation infrastructure. Proposition 479 would help support almost 12 miles of new light rail and more than 28 miles of bus rapid transit, as well as about four miles of new streetcar lines.

Disclosure: AARP Arizona contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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