Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Initial Light Rail Experience

I had my first chance to ride on the new Phoenix Light Rail tonight. I took it from my Central Phoenix Station (a picture taken with my iPhone of a sculpture at the station is close by) near my house downtown to Mill Avenue in Tempe. I grabbed some dinner and then a coffee before heading back home. I have spoken with a many people that don't see a difference between the LR and the typical city bus, so here are couple of observations, particularly how the LR differs from taking a city bus:

1. There are multiple doors to get on a light rail train which allows for much faster entry and exit for large number of people, on a city bus there is usually just the front and back door and the entire vehicle is much narrower making it harder to get on and off.

2, There are platforms on the LR that also assist in getting people on and off faster, also for people with disabilities there is no special time needed they can just roll on and roll off.

3. Because the train is on tracks that are specially build for it, the ride is extremely smooth as compared to a bus - in fact I am typing this entry while we are moving currently, something I would never attempt on a bus.

4. Powered by electric the train is very quiet, I would also assume that because it has unlimited power to the cars, the air conditioning in the summer is going to be very good.

5. Because it is a dedicated transportation route, I have been told that there will be a much greater commitment to development along the route because real estate investors can identify their property as close to a committed transportation infrastructure such as development is created along freeways.

So those are my initial observations. The total trip time between downtown Phoenix and downtown Tempe was about 25 minutes. There is also a shuttle that takes people to the airport so I might actually try that in the future.

For those people reading my blog from cities that already have public transportation, don't laugh at the novelty that we are all experiencing here in Phoenix.