Phoenix's Valley Metro Works on Three Light Rail Project During Pandemic Lull

Construction continues on three Phoenix light rail projects set to be completed in 2024.

September 24, 2020, 8:00 AM PDT

By Lee Flannery @leecflannery


Valley Metro

tishomir / Shutterstock

With light rail ridership down 50 percent since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Phoenix's Valley Metro is taking advantage of reduced traffic congestion to continue, and in some cases, accelerate the construction of a new downtown transfer hub and light rail extensions.

"Valley Metro spokesperson Hillary Foose said both the light rail and bus system serve an 'essential group of riders' — people like health care workers, grocery store clerks and janitorial workers, who continued to go into work while others stayed home," reports Jessica Boehm.

According to Foose, Phoenix has fared better than other U.S. cities—light rail service has been reduced from every 12 minutes to every 15 minutes and only some bus lines have reduced service capacity. 

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego​ predicts that ridership will ramp up once schools resume in-person classes and workers return to traditional office spaces. Boehm reports that about a third of transit riders are student commuters. 

The projects under construction include a new downtown light rail hub that will "allow riders to transfer between the existing light rail line and the line that eventually will head down Central Avenue into south Phoenix," writes Boehm.

A South Central light rail extension will reduce vehicle lanes from four lanes to two lanes between Central Avenue to Baseline Road. Additionally, the Metrocenter rail line will be extended a mile and a half to the Metrocenter Mall that closed in June. "Gallego said she's confident Metrocenter will be bought by a developer who will invest in the property and bring it into the 21st century," Boehm notes.

All three projects are on track to open to passengers in 2024.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 in Arizona Republic

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

3 hours ago - Vancouver Sun

Montreal, Quebec

Urban Design, Transport, and Health

The Lancet medical journal published a series of articles that explore how to evaluate and guide urban planning decisions to create healthy and sustainable cities. Live long and prosper!

4 hours ago - The Lancet - Urban Design, Transport, and Health

MoGo Bikeshare Bikes

Detroit Bike Share Celebrates Five Years

In its five years of operation, Detroit’s MoGo bikeshare has added electric and adaptive bikes to its fleet of more than 600 bikes.

5 hours ago - MoGo

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.