Phoenix Light Rail Beats Projections, and the Mayor Wants More

Phoenix Metro light rail is besting expectations. Photo: Wikipedia
Phoenix Metro light rail is beating expectations. Photo: Wikipedia

Can Phoenix become a transit city? It’s looking like more and more of a possibility lately.

Phoenix’s Metro light rail system is less than six years old but has already surpassed ridership projections for 2020. The system is carrying 48,000 passengers a day, or 22,000 more than initially projected, according to the Arizona Republic. Extensions of the system, which currently has 20 miles of track and 28 stations, are already underway and eagerly anticipated in Phoenix and the suburb of Mesa.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton isn’t about to stop there. He wants to triple the size of the system by 2030. Business and civic leaders will convene soon to develop an expansion plan to bring to voters next year. The team will be headed by Mary Peters, U.S. transportation secretary under President George W. Bush, the Republic reports.

Phoenix has also been trying to make the neighborhoods around the rail system more conducive to riding it. The city used about $3 million in funds from the Obama administrations’ Sustainable Communities Program to plan for transit-oriented development around the system’s stations. The blueprint, called Reinvent Phoenix, lays out incentives and zoning rules to encourage walkable development around the stations.

6 thoughts on Phoenix Light Rail Beats Projections, and the Mayor Wants More

  1. Went to grad school here, walked to station every day. Was so easy and made me happy to not have to drive (or bike in the heat)! Super cheap deal for ASU students created huge incentive to live along line in either Mesa, Tempe, or Phoenix.

  2. Hopefully they can get a line going up to North Scottsdale. That would make the place really liveable without a car.

  3. To create the kind of walkability that actually gets people out of their cars to the point that they will no longer need to pay for a car and it’s myriad costs, land use in one’s own neighborhood is more important than the particular mode of transport used to connect the neighborhood to the outside world. Rail is only the best option if there is enough demand to warrant the high capacity of rail. El cheapo BRT-lite running in mixed traffic might garner just as much ridership for a fraction of the cost, thereby leaving more resources to invest elsewhere for greater impact. Maybe instead of 117 miles of new rail, you get 60 miles of rail and another 120 miles of BRT. (remember, automated cars are coming very soon, whether people can comprehend it or not, and you can bet your house that any vehicle driven by a paid employee will be automated as soon as it is technically feasible.)

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