Local Politicians and Journalists Help Test Out Light Rail Before Tomorrow's Grand Opening

From left: Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman, and light rail CEO Richard Simonetta.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith called Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman a game show host, light rail CEO Richard Simonetta called Spawn's Todd McFarlane "Scott," and Hallman called potential light rail vandals pigs - all before dawn at the METRO media preview held this morning in Tempe.

Several dozen VIP types got an early ride on round-trip trains headed eastbound for Mesa and westbound for Phoenix, and about 100 lined up to get McFarlane to sign copies of the light rail tickets he illustrated. The trains made their own bad calls - sometimes the automated announcements incorrectly identified light rail stops - but otherwise the ride was smooth and the event slick.

Sounding more like a hall monitor than a game show host, Hallman reiterated Valley Metro's "zero tolerance" policy for any vandalism of the trains or unruly behavior by riders, whether it's resting feet on seats or drinking alcohol from open containers. Violators could be fined anywhere from $50 to $500.

"We're not going to have a $1.4 billion investment the public paid for get trashed because people want to act like pigs," Hallman says.

Oink. So much for light rail making the city gritty, like we'd sorta been hoping. -- Benjamin Leatherman

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