Last weekend, Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa celebrated the grand opening of the Valley Metro light rail system. This improvement to our public transit system has been long-overdue and is a welcome change for many Phoenix residents.
The new trains will ferry passengers along a 20-mile track that runs from downtown Phoenix through ASU and into Mesa. To celebrate the completion of this gigantic project (approximately 8 years from planning to completion), the light rail is offering free rides to everyone through December 31st.
I was once the outspoken opponent of the light rail project. The light rail doesn't come far enough north to do me any good and I have been inconvenienced many times over the years while it was under construction.
If anything, I found the whole situation very similar to that episode of the Simpsons where the City of Springfield is talked into building a monorail it doesn't need by a slick, smooth-talking salesman. Unlike the Simpsons, our train made it through its maiden voyage without incident.
After seeing the trains in action, I have to say I feel differently about them now. They look newer and sexier than any city bus, and run on electricity instead of diesel. They move quickly, covering the 20-mile route in about 60 minutes. Best of all, the road construction is finally over!
I have to say that this light rail thing could be a good thing for Phoenix after all. Only time will tell!