Is The Phoenix Light Rail Good & Does It Need Improving?

Phoenix Light Rail Train

Phoenix Valley Metro Light Rail Train

The Phoenix Metro Light Rail needs improvement, but still somewhat efficient, only if you are starting at the right place and ending at the right place.

I had the chance to ride the light rail to downtown Phoenix this weekend, the first time since moving here close to two weeks ago, and generally, liked what I saw on a weekend afternoon.

Granted, it was one roundtrip, but I could have been more pleased with the number of people on the light rail

Little perspective, the people here live in cars, thus not accustomed to public transit, unlike east coasters.

A matter of fact, the realtor whom I dealt with noticed I used to live in the east coast when I asked about being reasonably close to the Metro Light Rail because the only people who ask about it are people from there (I am close, but not walking distance close).

Those unfamiliar with the system, it started operation in 2008, and operated by Valley Metro, thus going by the formal name of Metro Light Rail.

According Metro Light Rail Wikipedia entry, an estimated 41,300 passengers ride the system daily.

100% of the route is on the street, but it appears to be synced with the lights, so it does not stop every couple of seconds for automobile traffic, unlike the B-line Boston’s MBTA.

Phoenix Valley Metro Light Rail Map

Phoenix Valley Metro Light Rail Map

The Metro Light Rail stretches for 20 miles from Mesa to Central Phoenix.  It stops at ASU, downtown (by the sports facilities, various cultural centers, and major office buildings), Sky Harbor Airport, and major shopping areas, all on a single line.

Sounds pretty good for destinations, but it does not stop at the sports facilities in Glendale, Downtown Scottsdale cultural hub, or major shopping areas route.  Most residential areas it stops right at are more undesirable.

The Metro Light Rail basically does not exist for residents in the western suburbs, northern Phoenix, or Scottsdale.  The percentage of the total population shutout of easy accessibility is obviously pretty high.

The hours are reasonable. According to, opening before 5 am, and ending at 11 pm during the week.  Weekends, 5am to 2am, which is good for customers (and owners) at nighttime establishments.

The fare was very affordable as well; 1.75 one-way, 3.50 roundtrip, same for a light rail only day pass.

I heard from a friend before moving here not many people pay to ride the light rail.  Obvious reason. It’s a proof-of-payment system, which is more of an honor system then anything.  You show your receipt when randomly asked.

According to the Metro Light Rail, it has 3,636 free “Park-and-Rides” at a handful of stations.

All things considered, it was good, and will be a repeat passenger.

Plans are in the works to expand the system into more residential areas, but nothing on expanding into Glendale sports arena neighborhood, or Downtown Scottsdale.

It’s a start, but a lot can be done to improve the system.