Help Keep The Light Rail Running Past Midnight

By Benjamin Leatherman

Could this train be a post-midnight express?

Would you like for light-rail to operate until 2 a.m.? You should, especially if it's going to keep your drunk ass from getting a DUI one night.

As I reported a few weeks ago, the Phoenix City Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee is considering extending light-rail’s operating hours an additional two hours past midnight on weekends, which would cost the city $350,000.

But after the subcommittee’s biweekly meeting this morning, the likelihood of such an extension is largely in doubt.

Debbie Cotton, director of Phoenix’s Public Transit Department, informed subcommittee members of vast budgetary shortfalls that Valley Metro is facing over the next few years because of a sharp decline in sales tax revenue. (Take a guess at what caused it).

Needless to say, it didn’t bode well for those hoping to get light-rail to run until 2 in the morning.

Subcommittee member Claude Mattox, who’s also councilman for District 5, said the only way the extension could happen is if downtown business owners were willing to help chip in to help cover the cost.

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to [extend the hours] unless the business community is willing to step up and help us in funding it,” Mattox says.

Kimber Lanning, owner of downtown’s Stinkweeds Record Exchange, volunteered to help brainstorm alternative funding methods, and was put on a hastily formed ad-hoc committee that also included Valley Metro Rail CEO Richard Simonetta and District 4 Councilman Tom Simplot.

If you’re interested in seeing the light-rail’s weekend hours extended, which creates an extra option for getting home after a downtown concert or ballgame, here are the e-mails of the three subcommittee members (Mattox, Simplot, and Vice Mayor Peggy Neely). Let 'em know what you think:

E-mail Vice Mayor (and subcommittee chair) Peggy Neely

E-mail councilman Claude Mattox

E-mail councilman Tom Simplot

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.