The Valley Metro Light Rail system is a milestone worth celebrating. A symbol of the growth, evolution and flowering of Phoenix from a desert valley town to a growing metropolis, it has been welcomed with such enthusiasm it’s electrifying. The passengers love it and flock to it. Ridership is on target and growing. And well it should be. Even when compared to well-established, time-tested transit systems—Chicago’s CTA and the famed Paris Metro, for example—it’s a very civilized way to get around town.
Every Metro car we occupied was bright, clean (of course it’s new, but still the absence of litter was remarkable) and QUIET. And, like the Paris Metro, there is public art at many of the stations, making our journey one of discovery and delight.
Surprisingly and wisely, the Metro runs on the street. Like a street car. That makes it possible for you and me to actually enjoy the view—a plus for tourists and sightseeing neighbors from the surrounding area. But more importantly, it saved millions in construction and will save infrastructure maintenance costs later. Those savings can wisely be invested in expanding the already popular service. In fact, there are already plans for approximately 37 miles of potential future extensions. Moreover, Metro’s current Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program, including professional services contracts, operations and maintenance contracts, and the 20-mile construction program represents more than $115 million in DBE subcontracts.
Metro’s Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Transit Project was one of the largest infrastructure projects in Arizona history. The 20.3-mile light rail system stretches from 19th Avenue and Bethany Home Road in Phoenix, through uptown and downtown Phoenix, past Sky Harbor Airport, across Tempe Town Lake, through downtown Tempe and end approximately one mile into Mesa.
We spent about four days traveling around Phoenix on the Metro and met lots of happy travelers who were anxious to tell us how much they enjoyed the Metro. One couple from Sun City West, Pat and Larry Hundley, drove 20 miles to the Metro. They were looking forward to the convenience of being able to go downtown easily and economically. They were from Chicago (We seem to find them everywhere! Think it’s the weather?) and compared it very favorably to the “L.” The Hundleys look forward to taking the Metro everywhere.
An Arizona native—a rare find—told us that her father was a train-lover. In honor of him, she was riding the Metro from end to end. She didn’t want to miss a thing. The Metro ride seems to agree with everyone. People were so sociable, relaxed and courteous.
What about us? We enjoyed it immensely, but it is in its early stages and will definitely benefit with expansion. It was well planned and is off to an excellent start. You could say riding on the Metro was a moving experience!
For more information about the Valley Metro Light Rail transit system, visit www.metrolightrail.org.
Look for our first Metro stop, the Phoenix Museum of Art at the McDowell and Central station. Read about it in tomorrow’s Splash.