Hard to believe that it's only 2 days till the Metro Light Rail grand opening here in Mesa, Tempe & Phoenix.
Instead of writing my own post, I thought sharing Nick Bastian's post detailing all the events surrounding the celebrations would be best!
If you have any questions about anything pertaining to the rail (here in Phoenix), visit Nick's Rail Life website.
The Phoenix Metro Light Rail Line arrives on Saturday, December 27th to a host of Grand Opening Celebrations. We have heard projections of up to 200,000 people riding the new trains on opening weekend. Live bands, fun zones, celebrities, community groups and food booths are just a few of the MANY things happening along the entire 20 mile route during the Grand Opening. All rides on the light rail system are free of charge beginning Saturday the 27th at 10 a.m. and continue to be free of charge until January 1, 2009! (see schedule below)
Our new light rail line has been a long time coming. This $1.4 billion project signifies a huge change in an area famous for sprawl. Defining an urban core in the "Valley of the Sun" has yet to fully materialize as development has traditionally spread out, instead of up or in. Walkable neighborhoods here are the exception, not the rule. Light Rail will go a long way in providing an economic engine that will help fuel the development of urban environments throughout the 20 mile line that stretches from Phoenix to Tempe and into Mesa. Prior to the grand opening of the light rail line, experts have attributed approximately $6 Billion in public and private development along the light rail line. (Feel free to contact me for opinions of areas with great potential!)
Some of the most common questions about the Phoenix Light Rail project:
A lot of people wonder how the fare system will work once the light rail trains begin to run in December. Basically, a ride (bus or light rail) is going to cost most people $1.25 and an all day pass is just $2.50. There will be other options available. For instance, you can purchase a 3, 7 or a 31 day pass, the 31 day pass is just $45.00. This is probably a great option for people that live, work, or "play" along the line. One note about those who go to school near the line.. ASU students will be given a free light rail "U-Pass as part of their tuition!
Ticket Vending Machines (tvm"s) will be available for purchasing your light rail pass. The fares are enforced by an "honor system" with random ticket checks aboard trains by employees. Serious folks, no cheating allowed! I understand that you can also buy your fare on line, through the mail, at transit centers etc.
The Park and Ride locations will be a very convenient way to utilize the system.
There are 8 park and ride locations. All park and rides will be FREE of charge and will be monitored by security cameras, security officers and municipal police officers. No overnight parking will be permitted. Park-n-ride locations:
1. Montebello and 19th Avenue (794 spaces)
2. 19th Avenue and Camelback (410 spaces)
3. Central Avenue and Camelback (135 spaces)
4. 38th Street and Washington (189 spaces)
5. Dorsey Lane / Apache Blvd (190 spaces- two lots)
6. McClintock Drive / Apache Blvd (300 spaces)
7. Loop 101 Freeway / Apache Blvd (693 spaces)
8. Sycamore / Main Street (802 spaces)
Once you park and then arrive at a light rail station, you will find that each one will have ticket vending machines. Each Light Rail Station will also have shade canopies, louvered panels to provide additional shade, seating, route maps, timetables, drinking fountains, public telephones and garbage containers.
From December 27th (Grand Opening weekend) through December 31st, all rides are free of charge.
Beginning Thursday, January 1st, 2009 Metro will begin charging normal fares for light rail and bus rides. The normal schedule of service hours are 4 a.m. - midnight with the first full trip, across all 20 miles, occurring at 4:40 a.m. and the last full trip at 11 p.m arriving at the end of the line at midnight.
During the week, trains arrive every 10 minutes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m - all other times, trains arrive every 20 minutes. On weekends and holidays, the first trip of the day is 5 a.m. and ends the same as week days. (midnight) The frequency of trips changes to every 15 minutes between 6 a.m and 7 p.m- all other times, trains arrive every 20 minutes. Metro operates 365 days a year. For special events, trains may operate more frequently and for longer hours. They have a really cool monitoring system where they can adjust the number of trains necessary by watching the stations from a "command center."
4. What is the best way to learn about things near Arizona's Light Rail system?
The light rail system in Arizona has many aspects to it. The best place to learn about the system and the lifestyle associated with life along the line it is to bookmark www.RailLife.com or to subscribe to the Rail Life RSS feed. At Rail Life, you can also see hundreds of photos that are light rail and community related, If you really want to know what is going on in the light rail communities, try following them on Twitter: @RailLife
Looking for a restaurant near the light rail line? Easy! Soon, they will also have shopping, hotel, entertainment, sports and real estate sections with interactive maps, driving and walking directions and even an "events page" where people can find cool things to do along the line.
5. Sporting, the arts and special events along the line.
Getting to the Sun's and Diamondback's games will be a breeze once light rail begins. Let's use a baseball game for an example: I have talked to a ton of sports fans that are looking forward to taking the light rail to a Suns game or to see a Diamodbacks game at Chase. The stop at 3rd St/Jefferson is VERY close to both of these venues. Most people know that there is a light rail stop at 3rd St/Jefferson near Chase Field but most probably don't realize that this is an east bound train. Not to worry, you just need to know your way around. If coming from North Phoenix, you will arrive right outside of the door at 3rd/Jefferson, but when going home you will walk about a block and a half to the 3rd St/Washington stop. By clicking on this pic of the 3rd St/Washington station, you might get a better idea of what I am talking about. The reverse is obviously true for people coming from the east valley. Before the game, you will exit at the Washington stop and will board the Jefferson stop on your way home. Don't forget the ASU Sun Devil's! There is also a light rail stop right outside of Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe!
The Heard Museum is located near Encanto and Central.
The Phoenix Art Museum is very close to McDowell and Central.
The Phoenix Museum of History is west of Washington & Central.
The Arizona Science Center is East of 3rd St & Washington.
The Pueblo Grande Museum is East of 44th St & Washington.
There has been a lot of media attention to the "commercial" uses for light rail and there are indeed many. I think the historic and educational opportunities are tremendous as well.
Special events will include the upcoming 2008 Insight Bowl and Block Party, arts fairs, the Rock n Roll Marathon, the 2009 NBA All Star Game and hundreds of other great community events that are now going to be more easily navigated.
For the past three years, I have watched the progress of this light rail system. From public meetings (CAB meetings) with METRO "stakeholders." to city council meetings to research on-line, driving the neighborhoods, talking to residents, business owners, police officers community leaders, students, politicians, you name it. I firmly believe that light rail will help change the life of many of the areas along the light rail line. Is this lifestyle perfect for everyone? Heck no, but for many, it has been a long time coming. According to Metro, about one-third of light-rail passengers walk 1/4 to 1/2 of a mile to a station. Another 1/3 of riders drive, and the remainder will take a bus and transfer to light rail. However, the majority of light-rail passengers live 3 to 5 miles from a station, (source, AZ Republic) - That's a lot of people. Some of what is missed when talking about the majority of users is, business travelers, convention goers and "soccer moms." While these groups might not use the system every day, it is very important for them to be able to navigate the system and to be able to find out how they can benefit from riding the light rail line to their destination.
The Phoenix light rail line is here! It is now safe to say... "Your Life Is On The Line!"