Editor, Casa Grande Dispatch:
Thank you for the article in the Thursday Dispatch regarding transit and the apparently revised plan to rely on a “dial a ride" call for service instead of the recommendations made by the previous study group. I hope your readers will consider city transit in the broader context of all the transit options.
This letter comes from the vantage point of having used transit for many of my pre-Arizona years. In Reno as a young kid, I took the bus to the YMCA. As an adult I depended on transit to get to and from my jobs, and generally around town, in several cities. From personal experience I know it can be a community asset. More Casa Grande focused, I served on the Transit Technical Advisory Committee that met numerous times in 2018 and presented recommendations to the council in 2019.
In Casa Grande, our budget-conscious leaders tend to look at transit as a service that should pay for itself through fares from riders and advertising from commercial enterprises. The view is that transit would be purely a city expense that should be kept absolutely as low as possible. That is much too small a lens for looking at this important issue! The wider values of the service need to be considered.
The bottom line for the mayor and council to consider is, a transit service that benefits the entire community. That is the option seemingly preferred by the community. It should be paid through community-wide contributions.
The CARES money is a special, one-time opportunity to build a system that works with minimal up-front investment by our city. We should not let the chance go by! The mayor and council should send the CG Traffic Department and Public Works back to the drawing board.