The Phoenix Metro Light Rail has been the talk of the town since voters approved the $1.4 billion project in 2000. The public transit system opened on December 27, and Valley denizens have both praised and bemoaned the rail. The most common complaint is that Light Rail service stops at midnight, but should run later.
Here are Ten Reasons Metro Light Rail Needs to Extend Its Hours Until 2 a.m.
1. The bars don't close until 2 a.m. This means that anybody who wants to drink up until last call won't have the option of using Light Rail to get home -- which means they'll probably be driving. Mothers Against Drunk Driving make this their pivotal point in pushing for later rail hours.
2. Restaurant and bar workers are S.O.L. Anybody who works late at a bar or a restaurant (and most closers don't get off work until after midnight), can't use the Light Rail to commute.
3. The trains run later for Suns games and other sporting events. If exceptions can be made for sporting events, why can't they at least be made for bar-goers every Friday and Saturday night?
4. Light Rail can be a designated driver. Again, we come back to the benefit of keeping intoxicated drivers off the streets.
5. It would give blogging rail enthusiasts more material. If the trains ran 'til 2 a.m., sites like Raillife.com would have a lot more to write about.
6. If we want to truly be a "24/7" city, Light Rail must run 24/7. We're so proud of Light Rail because it's a transportation system fit for a big city like Phoenix. But if we want to have 24-hour action downtown, we need later rail hours. Can you imagine if the subway in New York stopped running at midnight?
7. Bus hours have been cut. The Metro bus system now connects to the Light Rail stops in many areas, but to what benefit? The buses don't run until 2 a.m., either, so many Valley residents have had their public transportation options even more limited.
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8. The plan is flawed. The Light Rail hours are meant to serve morning commuters and operate at peak traffic hours. But many people have already complained that the commute on Light Rail takes too long, and the extra hour they save by just driving to work is worth more than the $3 they'll save in gas. So Light Rail's target demographic is already turning away. Why not give late-night partiers a chance to pick up the economic slack?
9. The Sky Harbor stop is useless for many travelers. Unless your plane lands between the hours of 4:40 a.m. and 11 p.m., don't bother trying to utilize the much-hyped Sky Harbor Airport stop on Light Rail. If you're taking a red-eye, might as well take a cab or a shuttle, too.
10. The "high traffic" targets that dictated Light Rail hours may not be "high traffic" at all. One local blogger did a breakdown of Light Rail stops and density areas. It would appear that Light Rail's primary high-traffic stops won't bring in expected revenues. Again, give the bar crawlers a chance.