May 20, 2022
Throughout the pandemic, Arizona and our region suffered through some of the deadliest and highest COVID-19 case rates in the country. To date, there have been more than 30,000 COVID-19 deaths in Arizona, including more than 17,000 deaths in Maricopa County. Getting Valley residents to testing sites, vaccine locations, and healthcare remains a key priority for healthcare providers, transportation service providers, and community leaders.
During the initial onset of the pandemic and the Delta and Omicron waves, cases spiked to critical levels, with the number of deaths peaking in July 2020, January 2021, December 2021, and January 2022. Families suffered through these waves and the healthcare system experienced severe strain. For those experiencing transportation insecurity, a lack of transportation was often the biggest barrier to getting healthcare, including testing and vaccines. For many, these services were scarce or hard to reach.
Revenues from Proposition 400, the region’s half-cent transportation sales tax, were a primary funding source for bus service many residents used to travel to healthcare locations.
For example, State Farm Stadium, in partnership with the Arizona Cardinals, was Arizona’s largest testing and vaccination site. Described as a “national model” by President Joe Biden, the site is served by the regionally funded Bus Route 70 – 24th St./Glendale Ave.
Grand Canyon University also stepped up to serve as a major public Point of Dispensing (POD) site for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. The university offered a walk-through option for anyone without their own means of transportation. Notably, GCU is served by regional Bus Route 50 - Camelback Rd. Before closing the site, GCU disbursed 116,789 doses of the vaccine.
“These are just a few examples of why having a dedicated transportation funding source is critical to our integrated transportation system and the Valley residents we serve,” said Mayor Giles. “Prop 400 expires in December 2025, and we need to continue progress through the MOMENTUM Regional Transportation Plan. The investment plan we’ve built together over the last two years will be the basis for a direct referral of a Maricopa County ballot initiative that is currently pending approval at the Arizona State Legislature,” he said.