from point A to point B in the easiest, fastest and safest manner,
is an age-old problem. And now, with the impact of mass population
and all it entails - including more vehicles, more pollution,
more noise, and more traffic - figuring out the best way to cope
with this change, while preserving the integrity of land and community,
can be difficult.
is what Sedona is currently dealing with.
breathtaking area that draws millions of tourists a year into
its pockets of beauty and canyons of grandeur, Sedona is suffering
from an overload. The citizens, who must deal with such impacts,
day-in and day-out, are asking, "How can we relieve the city
of her stress and ours?" The result - a Sedona Transit Study.
focus on solving the transit problem began in 1994. During the
1994 Sedona Academy Forum, entitled "Building Partnerships
with the Forest Service," the issue of forest service impact
and the need for change became a challenging question. From this,
the 1995 Sedona Forum ("Congestion or Conservation - Do We
Have Choices?") began to explore transportation options for
the Sedona area. The Action Coalition for Transportation Solutions
(ACTS) was formed with Sedona architect Max Licher leading the
would serve as a mediator among all governmental entities by providing
ideas and study objectives to be considered. ACTS first task was
to do a feasibility study. This was done by the Community Transportation
Association of America, a nonprofit transportation research and
technical assistance organization.
study, based partially upon a prior study done for the Sedona
Ranger Station, by TransitPlus, and further detailed information,
helped provide a preliminary guide on the use of a transit system
in Sedona and the surrounding areas. The study also helped point
out ways to ameliorate growing traffic issues, while at the same
time expand a range of transportation options.
than four years ago, the Forest Service reenvisioned a planning
process, looking at transportation issues," Licher said.
"They were the first to hire an outside consultant and they
received a positive report.
wanted to take that to the next step - look for grant money, get
a more in-depth perspective and a report for the community - not
a full system design, but a feasibility study in concept. We wanted
a public and private team approach. We didn't feel we could afford
to hire a transit planner, so we decided to get the private sector
involved, and that might help facilitate the process."
neither the Sedona Forest Service, Yavapai or Coconino County,
nor the City of Sedona could outright afford to pay for a transit
system, ACTS wanted to look into finding a private company to
create and manage the system. The group opened themselves up to
outside proposals and two were received; one from Coach USA and
the other from Parking Company of America. Both gave ideas of
incentives and disincentives to consider: What would assist Sedona
with its traffic issues? . . . and how would the City plan to
fund the project.
Rayber, Sedona's Associate Long Range Planner, said that currently
both proposals are under review by the consortium, the City, ACTS
and both counties.
proposals may be revised and asked to be resubmitted based on
additional input by this group," he said. "One of the
two may be invited to pursue the project once the agencies define
the next steps of the process. But it is really preliminary right
proposal has a different focus on how to solve the transportation
issue in Sedona, which includes long-discussed from paid parking
to detailed shuttle service.
governmental agencies involved agree that there are many considerations
to be reviewed within each proposal. These include what kind of
market will be created that will encourage transit use, how the
program will work financially, what effects there will be on land
use, what kind of parking policies will be needed and enforced,
and what are the infrastructural needs.
the City's point of view, this is a feasibility issue," Rayber
said. "The whole vision for the transit system is that it
is self-sustaining and privately run. We want to be assured it
will work and there won't be a major public subsidy beyond the
planning - perhaps some infrastructure needs will occur, but we
need to know what kind of policy decisions will have to be made
for the system to work."
the Forest Service, concerns focus on how the program will provide
a quality experience into the forest without degradation of the
lands along roadways. "We want to provide a good experience
for visitors in the best possible way," said Ken Anderson
of the Sedona Ranger District.
we have to make more parking lots and clear off more land, this
is going to take away from the visitor's experience. But it is
dangerous as it is now, with the off-road parking going on in
the (Oak Creek) Canyon."
forest service is also interested in maintaining the environmental
quality and preserving the community's sense of place to both
residents and visitors by reducing traffic congestion and noise.
Creating more parking lots, with water runoff from these lots
into the forest, isn't their ideal solution.
the citizens of Sedona, preserving the small town character by
limiting road expansion is a top consideration. Bringing in more
roads that are wider or bigger won't solve all the problems nor
will it preserve the integrity of their town.
how will these needs be met? Solution ideas range from creating
a public shuttle system with frequent, convenient and accessible
service within Sedona and between the Village of Oak Creek and
Uptown Area, to parking strategies. All ideas serve as incentives
and disincentives toward using the transit system. Without such
incentives and disincentives, it is feared by proposers that the
program would not work. And with surrounding communities such
as the Verde Valley watching Sedona in hopes of following suit,
Sedona wants to do it right.
have been watching Sedona, and we have had a staff member from
our engineering department attend all of the meetings to keep
us up to speed," said County Supervisor Chip Davis. "We
will eventually need some sort of transit system within the incorporated
communities, so we are quite anxious to see how Sedona's program
works when it gets going."
continued, "I know this program is mostly citizen driven
and one of the neat things about their approach is that they have
tried to minimize the impacts on others by looking for grants
or a vendor to come in and operate the program so that they can
do it without any other types of government support. I have been
watching them go and struggle and am very happy they are hanging
Todd, owner of the Sedona Trolley, would like to see a solution
that includes our neighbors. "I think a transit system is
a good idea, but a Sedona-only system is not going to address
the problem adequately. I think it would be better addressed on
a regional basis. Some think our traffic problem is from the tourists
only. It is also the local people causing the problem."
'The Proposals'... continued >