Light rail expansion to benefit students, residents in Phoenix

The light rail passes by the station on Rural and Apache road on Sept. 26. A recently won federal grant will be used to expand the light rail an additional 5 miles in Phoenix. (Photo by Emily Johnson) The light rail passes by the station on Rural and Apache road on Sept. 26. A recently won federal grant will be used to expand the light rail an additional 5 miles in Phoenix. (Photo by Emily Johnson)

The Metro Light Rail has been one of the city’s major transit systems since it emerged in 2005, taking thousands of citizens from Phoenix to Mesa each day.

In September, Phoenix won a $1.6 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery federal grant to extend the light rail into the south central part of the city.

City of Phoenix spokeswoman Nikki Hicks said in an email that the grant will expand a 5-mile light rail line opening on Central Avenue between downtown Phoenix and Baseline Road.

This expansion will provide a method of transportation to thousands of residents in an economically-challenged area. Many have little to no access to automobiles, giving many a cheap and easy way to travel the valley, Hicks said.

Hicks said the city hopes the expansion will help revitalize the areas through which the light rail will soon run.

The light rail expansion will create 8,000 to 12,000 job opportunities for construction workers.

Students at the Downtown campus are looking forward to the expansion. Journalism freshman Owen Baldner said the expansion will allow him to travel the city more efficiently.

“The expansion of the light rail will allow me to participate in so many more activities than I am currently capable of,” Baldner said.

With the reduced fare for residents, the light rail is a smart transportation choice for students. Journalism freshman Courtney Mally said she often uses the light rail because it is economically efficient.

“I think it will make things more convenient and allow us to do more activities while maintaining a cheap, college budget,” Mally said.

The light rail system is scheduled to expand throughout the Valley until 2034, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said the Phoenix expansion will do great things for the city.

"Extending the light rail is critically important to south Phoenix and this is a significant step toward that goal," Stanton said in a press release.

 

CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this article improperly attributed information and was unclear about when planning on the light rail began and when construction completed. The article has been updated with the correct information. We regret the error.

Reach the reporter at jlsuerth@asu.edu or on Twitter at @SuerthJessica.

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