Arizona Light Rail opens in time for New Year

A 30km (20-mile) light rail system opens in Arizona on 27 December, serving the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area. Passengers will be able to try the system free until 1 January.

The Valley Metro Light Rail system is expected to carry 26,000 passengers daily on the route from Mesa, through Tempe and into Phoenix. The $1.4 billion rail system includes 28 stations, nine parking locations, a LEED Gold-certified maintenance facility and many trains.

The Tempe city authorities are enthusiastically promoting the new service, which forms part of Tempe’s integrated transportation system connecting rail, buses and bicycles. An award-winning bridge across Tempe Town Lake puts on a colourful light show each time a light rail train crosses.

Even before the line's opening, light rail has already had a substantial impact on Tempe. At least 10 new residential and commercial developments have sprouted up along the new transportation corridor, ranging from college student housing to single family homes, from retail centres to office buildings.

Grand Opening celebrations are planned along the entire line, with music, giveaways and activities at most park-and-ride and station locations. Free shuttle buses will be available for those who don’t want to wait in line to reboard a train. Exhibits will feature the construction of the line and the archaeology completed.

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