Congressman Ed Pastor awarded by the American Public Transportation Association

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From left: (Kimberly Koerth/DD)
From left: Valley Metro CEO Steve Banta, Congressman Ed Pastor and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton pose with a framed photograph given to Pastor, which depicts a light-rail train wrapped to honor him for receiving the 2014 Distinguished Service Award by the American Public Transportation Association. (Kimberly Koerth/DD)

U.S. Congressman Ed Pastor was honored with the 2014 Distinguished Service Award from the American Public Transportation Association at a ceremony at the Roosevelt Street and Central Avenue light-rail station on Thursday.

Pastor, who will retire from office in January, was formally recognized for his work in bringing light rail to the Valley and improving Phoenix’s bus system, and those who spoke at the event also acknowledged his work in areas such as education and environmental protection.

“No one has had a greater impact on transportation in our entire state, in the history of the state, I would politely argue, than Congressman Ed Pastor,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said. “But his leadership just begins with transportation. It doesn’t end there.”

Pastor first acknowledged the citizens of Phoenix, saying, “Whatever has been accomplished during my tenure in Congress has been because of you, so I thank you.”

He also credited former Phoenix mayor and former state Attorney General Terry Goddard for sparking his first inspiration about light rail.

“This is a project that has to continue,” Pastor said. “We’re going to go to Glendale. We’re going to go out to the West side. Maybe one day out to Buckeye. Maybe out to Gilbert, out to Paradise Valley. And this is a project that needs to continue. This is only the beginning.”

(ADDED)The Valley Metro Rail system runs multiple stations along Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix, creating a public-transportation hub for the area.(ADDED)

American Public Transportation Association Government Relations Director Brian Tynan said Pastor went above and beyond his transportation work in order to unite transit and housing, combining federal resources to make projects like light rail work with other community development projects.

“The Congressman’s tenacious efforts on behalf of transportation to successfully secure funds for local transit projects in Phoenix and across the state are emblematic of the kind of leaders for whom APTA’s awards are intended,” Tynan said.

Stanton added that Phoenix wouldn’t have light rail if not for Pastor and his lifelong commitment “to service in every way possible.”

“I am a grateful mayor; we are a grateful city,” Stanton said. “Millions of people in this region have benefited because of your service. Millions of people moving forward into the future for decades to come are the beneficiaries of your service. Your legacy is thanked second to none and we are a grateful city.”

At the end of the event, a customized light-rail train pulled up alongside the station platform. It was wrapped with a special design recognizing Pastor; he also received a framed copy of the design and a photograph of the train.

“These 20 miles are only the beginning so I go forward with you, working together, and trying to persuade the voters of this city, and maybe this county, this region, that it’s worthwhile to continue this tax so that we can have a greater system, have greater mobility that brings more economic development to our great, not only region, but to our great state,” Pastor said.

The award will formally be presented to Pastor in October at the American Public Transportation Association’s annual conference in Houston, Texas.

Correction: August 15, 2014

A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to CEO Steve Banta as Brian Tynan in the photo caption.

Contact the reporter at kimberly.koerth@asu.edu

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