Hurray! It's finally here. The mammoth 1.4 billion dollar light rail project has finally been completed and opened today. To get you started I created my own map of the light rail route. Why? Well - the Valley Metro's online maps are broken into separate pages making it a little difficult to simply glance at the entire twenty mile route easily. I also included the approximate travel times, fares, hours, and stop frequency in this easy to use one page printable map.
First Thoughts on the Rail
Well aside from the light rail being enormously crowded due to opening day hype, the experience was pretty decent. There is seating for 66 of the 200 passengers each car can hold. I was fortunate enough to get a seat on my way back to Tempe and can say it's what you would expect - nothing extraordinary but not uncomfortable. I was most impressed by the ride; the rail was extremely quiet and smooth. Let's see how long that lasts over the years to come.
This morning the paper reported that over 90,000 people showed up to check out the light rail. I believe it. It was a difficult chore just to get onto a car. Once on you were greeted with a squeeze that rivaled a Tokyo subway during rush hour. Many of my friends on twitter reported equally distressing hassles making their way onto the rail. I'm sure you won't see it this crowded again in the weeks to come. This is Phoenix after all, most people drive, only us hippies with fixed gear bikes will fancy this alternative over our big 4x4s. Joking aside, I'm sure more than hipsters and tree huggers will start utilizing the light rail for their commute but not this many.
The Light Rail has Arrived - Try it for Yourself
I would recommend waiting until next year to ride. Mainly because the fare is so cheap that you may as well wait to use it under normal circumstances. In comparison of costs, the T in Boston will set you back $2 for a one way trip. To ride for an unlimited amount of trips all day it costs $2.50 on the Phoenix rail or $1.25 for a one way ride from any point. Here are a few tips for riding:
- You can ride to the airport. There is a shuttle that picks you up.
- Tempe residents, you can ride the free orbit shuttle from your neighborhood to the nearest light rail stop.
- Cyclists, each car has racks for up to 8 bicycles, if all of the racks on your car are full you can carry your bike on board if you need to.
Light Rail Video
And here I leave you with your moment of Zen. Check out the folks in Tempe greeting the light rail for the first time!