I rode the light rail for the first time last night, from downtown Phoenix to downtown Tempe and back again. For my money (which is to say, free, because I have a student pass that allows me to ride public transit to my hearts content) it was a most excellent experience. A few things I learned:
I should stop comparing the light rail to "real" trains
I'm from Chicago, home of the world-famous El subway system (featured in Batman Begins and the Dark Knight), and I'll admit, I'm a little snobby about public transportation. When I first moved here I complained to my friends back home about the Valley's woefully inadequate bus system, and predicted that the light rail wouldn't open on time, and if it did, it wouldn't be as great as the Valley Metro people talked it up to be. I was proven wrong on both counts; the light rail did indeed open on time, and it does a pretty damn good job of getting people from Point A to Point B, as far as I can tell.
The light trail is an OCD sufferer's heaven
I know it's only been open for about 10 days, but the light rail is a fever dream of cleanliness. Having been used to the aforementioned L, which perpetually smells like a weird mixture of urine and aftershave, it kind of freaked me out. I kept expecting June Cleaver to pop on at every stop with a dustbuster. Maybe it's unrealistic, but here's to hoping it stays that way.
The light rail made me sick
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It's possible I just had a bad taco for lunch, but has anybody else experienced any motion sickness on their ride? I felt like I was going to puke halfway to Tempe, but managed to hold it down. It was a lot better on the way back, but I still got off in Phoenix feeling dizzy and a little nauseated. Hopefully it was just a fluke.
People are just as rude/polite as they are on any other type of public transportation
I don't know what I was expecting, exactly, but I thought maybe on this great, gleaming new machine, people would have brushed up on their Emily Post and been perfect, polite riders. That seems to be half true. One woman offered a handicapped man her seat when he got on, but one couple, who were taking up four seats between the two of them, couldn't be bothered to move one of their bags to let other riders sit down. Some people talked loudly on their cell phones; others politely rocked out with their headphones on. Yknow, just like the bus.
Overall, I totally heart the light rail and I'm excited to have an easy, efficient alternative to driving to Tempe. Maybe next time, though, I should pack some Dramamine, just in case.