Phoenix Light Rail Succeeds Beyond Expectations

Would one of America's most sprawling, auto-dependent cities take to the country's newest light rail system? Even its proponents were surprised by its success and its transformative effect on downtown businesses, particularly during a recession.
September 21, 2009, 12pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Valley Metro light rail opened last December. Opponents viewed the $1.4 billion, 20-mile line a boondoggle for the largely auto-dependent city. Now some of them admit to riding it. In fact, the LRT has become a symbol of civic pride. However, the system is unlike any other in the country in terms of its ridership.

"Unlike the rest of the country's public transportation systems, which are used principally by commuters, the 20 miles of light rail here stretching from central Phoenix to Mesa and Tempe is used largely by people going to restaurants, bars, ball games and cultural events downtown.

The rail was projected to attract 26,000 riders per day, but the number is closer to 33,000, boosted in large part by weekend riders."

Thanks to Gladwyn d'Souza

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Published on Sunday, September 20, 2009 in The New York Times - U.S.
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