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Phoenix's New Light Rail Is Quite the Party

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The New York Times covers Phoenix's new light rail, but here's an interesting twist: The paper reports that while the new 20-mile line has been a huge success, attracting more than the projected number of riders, far less commuters are using the rail than anticipated. "Unlike the rest of the country’s public transportation systems, which are used principally by commuters, the 20 miles of light rail here stretching from central Phoenix to Mesa and Tempe is used largely by people going to restaurants, bars, ball games and cultural events downtown...Only 27 percent use the train for work, according to its operator, compared with 60 percent of other public transit users on average nationwide." It also sounds like the rail has been quite useful for college students heading to the downtown are ("Pub crawls along the light rail have become a weekend staple.."). Additionally, the paper says downtown Phoenix saw its revenues jump 13 percent this year, while revenues dropped 16 percent in other parts of the city. How to draw comparison, if any, between this story and the forthcoming Expo line? And over at LA Cowboy, blogger Brady Westwater draws parallels between the proposed streetcar model and the Phoenix line (from an economic point of view). [Image of rail a screenshot from a film made by Streetsblog]
· In Phoenix, Weekend Users Make Light Rail a Success [NY Times]
· Light Rail Doing Just Great in the Phoenix Desert [Curbed LA]