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Report: Tucson lags behind Phx in economic recovery

City unlikely to ever rival larger neighbor, economist says

A recent report by the Brookings Institution found that the Tucson metropolitan area trails the Phoenix metropolitan area in economic recovery.
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4 comments on this story

Apr 6, 2012, 9:44 am
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I don’t live in Tucson (I live between Tucson and Marana), but I work in Tucson. I follow the issues relating to the region. I may or may not move away in the short term because I have a good job here and am rooted in other areas. But, if I wasn’t living here, and knew what I know about this area, there is no way in the world I would ever move here. If I had a business, there is no way I would ever set up shop here.

Here are some real reasons why Tucson lags behind most cities when it comes to growth and economic opportunities.

-inept and corrupt leadership that steals or mismanages millions of tax dollars, supported by an electorate that refuses to hold them accountable

-misplaced priorities. One of many examples is that despite public outcry the city government thinks building a choo choo train that few will ever use is much more important than maintaining the roads that so many use.

-NIMBYs have far too much power here. This town’s biggest need, by far, is a crosstown freeway. But, the NIMBYs always seem to cry about it, and those with the power to change fortunes always listen. Whenever something about moving traffic better in this town is on a ballot, it’s always voted down by the stupid electorate I mentioned earlier

-Downtown and the U of A. The City Council seems to think that Tucson is just those two things. If you have a business or a residence outside those two areas, the Council thinks you don’t exist. You don’t get the tax breaks, you don’t get the road maintenance, you don’t get any significant civic improvements…you’re sacrificed for the preferential treatment that downtown and the U of A recieve

-water. no one in their right mind would drink out of the tap in this town. I pay the $40 a month for the Arrowhead water delivered to my home, and it’s some of the best money I ever spent. When water came out of the ground it was fine. But then the powers that be around here got such a hard-on for the CAP water and just refused to let it go. So they send the poison CAP water into the ground table, and then expect the ground table to just be healthy when the water comes back out of it. it’s lunacy

There are many more reasons, I could go on and on, but my point is that this story doesn’t even scratch the surface as to why Tucson truly lags behind Phoenix in terms of economic recovery.

Apr 6, 2012, 11:02 am
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I am the senior director of business development and marketing for the Tucson Airport Authority, which manages the Tucson International Airport and Ryan Airfield. I wanted to comment on the unrealistic comparisons to TIA vs. PHX and offer some points for consideration.

Fares between PHX & TIA
There remains a perception that it is “cheaper” to fly out of Sky Harbor vs. TIA. In fact, there have been two comparison reports done in just the last year that show differently. Last summer the Wall Street Journal compared fares at the country’s top 100 airports. In that analysis, the difference in fares to comparable destinations was just $23 on average—less than a tank of gas. Closer to home, Inside Tucson Business, which has conducted an annual study of fares to the top 12 destinations shared by both airports, in fact found the average fare to be $1 less in Tucson—making us cheaper on average than Phoenix.

There are factors that play into fares that go beyond the information you are citing. Airlines have dramatically changed their operations models, reducing capacity to increase load factors and profitability. Our customers tell us they are finding more competitive pricing when they book ahead. Price points increase when all of the lower seats are sold; when travel is booked last minute; and whether or not travel is nonstop or connecting. Of course there will always be more options—PHX serves a market area of more than 20 million people. It isn’t even possible to compare the markets with any logic.

Mid-size airports across the country have had service decimated due to high fuel prices, mergers of airlines, etc. Tucson has fared much better than other airports of like size and markets, retaining service and even adding such seasonal nonstop service such as the Southwest to BWI flight earlier this year. This is not an easy feat when you understand that we are the ONLY mid-sized airport in the country that is 110 miles from a large, top 5 hub served by two low fare carriers, Southwest and US Airways.

Airlines are moving back to the hub and spoke service model and connecting flights will become more and more the norm, and it will be more costly to fly nonstop for all. TIA flies to 15 of the nation’s 30 major hubs, and we continue to work with the airlines to meet our community’s air service needs. We’ve been working much more closely with the private sector to identify high demand routes, and have reached out to many community groups in Tucson through our Working Together program.

Air service is a community asset and as such relies on the community to help support the airport. TAA staff can secure the service; if the public doesn’t fly on the planes the airlines will take their aircraft to more profitable communities. Every ticket purchased out of PHX makes it harder to justify airlines coming to Tucson.

If anyone is interested in learning more or would like to help our staff identify air service needs, I encourage you to give us a call.

Apr 6, 2012, 11:33 am
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Correction in my latest post:  PHX serves a market of 20 million passengers annually—that is inferred but wanted to clarify. Thank you for the opportunity to post and help educate your readers!

Apr 6, 2012, 1:24 pm
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@Mary Davis

I thank you for your post Ms. Davis, but based on the first-hand observations and experiences of Bret Linden, which in my mind trumps any other sources…the last time I flew somewhere it was so much cheaper to fly out of Phoenix rather than Tucson…and that was even considering the gas back and forth, and the money to park my car at the airport for a week. And, in case your wondering…I was headed to Atlanta, which I understand is our nation’s busiest airport.

To be fair, I don’t blame the TIA for this, I blame the airlines. Their business models are getting more and more crazy and less and less logical with each passing year. But, whatever the cause, facts are facts, and in most cases it really is cheaper to fly out of Phoenix than it is Tucson. Not nearly as convenient I’ll grant you…but cheaper.

But, if you wish to cite population numbers as the cause, then that goes back to what I was saying…idiots who run this town, combined with the even dumber idiots that keep rubber-stamping them back in, prevent growth and prosperity in this town. If you want to blame them I won’t argue with you.

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