Beginning on Dec. 27, the much anticipated light rail system will be up and running as another transportation option for people to travel throughout different parts of the valley. The new project will extend approximately 20 miles with 28 different stations throughout the cities of Mesa, Tempe, and Phoenix.
The light rail can accommodate up to 12,000 passengers per hour, with each vehicle seating 66 passengers and it can accommodate up to 175 people when needed.
“At this stage, we are still in the testing phase with running the engines and making sure that everything is okay, but we are right on schedule,” said Hillary Foose, a public information officer for Valley Metro.
Phoenix has now joined a number of major Western cities, including Los Angeles and Denver, that already have light rail systems.
“We were fortunate because we looked at other western cities and compared theirs to ours. Because of that, we have the most innovative system in the entire country,” Foose said.
One of the most innovative features of the light rail system is the fact that it’s emission-free due to it being electric powered.
It’s expected to reduce airborne emissions by 12 tons each day when compared to the same number of passengers in a car.
Despite several features of the light rail, it has been met with some criticism. Construction has caused traffic jams, while others have complained about the one-half cent sales tax under Proposition 400, which has paid for about half of the total cost of the project.
Foose believes, however, that public perception of the light rail has changed over time.
“I’ve seen the publics attitudes towards it being swifted. People are getting excited about it now that it’s becoming more of a reality,” Foose said.
Students are a group that are expected to take advantage of the light rail system with many of the stations going through ASU and other hot spots for students.
“It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. I’m hoping it’s as convenient as they say it will be,” said ASU student Stephen Sharr.
“I’ll definitely use it, particularly when going downtown and maybe occasionally to the airport,”
Fares to ride the light rail are $2.50 for an all-day pass with reduced fares for seniors, kids, and those who are disabled.