Building Communities
+ Enhancing Lives
Through Light Rail

A QUALITY OF LIFE REPORT

The First
Decade of
Light Rail…

Opening on December 27, 2008, the initial 20 miles of light rail was a vision realized for community members and city leaders who had a dream more than a decade earlier.

Now, 10 years down the road from that celebratory opening day, it’s time to take stock. Has our system truly delivered as envisioned more than 20 years ago?

Today, more than 50,000 riders rely on light rail each day to take them to work, school and recreation. No doubt, light rail plays a role in attracting major events. It also provides an essential link between the downtown Phoenix and Tempe ASU campuses. We have expanded to serve a transit-reliant corridor along 19th Avenue and sparked new life into downtown Mesa. We are here to do more than serve, we are here to connect your community and enhance your life.

Our Quality of Life report examines progress in achieving that early vision, defined by four key goals:

Connecting Communities

Enhancing Customer Experience

Driving the Economy

Fostering Community Health

Light rail has been a major economic driver that has spurred more than $11 billion in capital investments along the tracks since it opened 10 years ago. It’s been a catalyst for positive change, connecting people to education and career opportunities and connecting neighborhoods. The regional transportation system has become integrated into the daily lives of thousands of residents across the Valley.

THELDA WILLIAMS

Phoenix Mayor and FY19 Valley Metro Rail Board Chair

CONNECTING
COMMUNITIES

Bring people together
through a seamless
transportation system.

81%

of Valley Metro Rail riders walk 1/4 mile or less to access transit

36%

increase in bicycle riders accessing transit after light rail operations began

64%

of GRID bike stations and 84% of bike trips occur within the light rail corridor

16% → 66%

percentage of single seat trips (no transfers), increased from prior route (Red Line bus) to light rail

25%

more high schools have access to Gateway Community College, within an hour’s travel, after light rail

93,000+

light rail rides to/from Talking Stick Resort Arena with Rail Ride Ticket Partnership in 2017

19NORTH

initiated during light rail construction and formalized in 2016, provides collaboration and support for neighborhoods, schools, churches, businesses, non-profits, local government and law enforcement along light rail

Today, a dream for many becomes reality. Light rail is rejuvenating downtown Mesa, offering residents and visitors across the Valley an opportunity to travel to new destinations and discover Mesa.

JOHN GILES

Mesa Mayor

ENHANCING CUSTOMER
EXPERIENCE

Provide customers with a
safe, comfortable and
reliable travel experience.

81%

of customers are “very satisfied” with transit service, up from 74% before light rail

70

new pedestrian crossing signals

30%

of all light rail boardings are school-bound student riders

low cost

and station locations are the two top reasons why ASU students ride light rail

40

public art pieces have been added along the light rail corridor in Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa

1st Place

2016 AZ Forward Crescordia Award for Art in Public Places and 2017 WTS Innovative Transportation Solutions Award for the Valley Metro Rail Public Art Program

I do depend on the train and it gets me from Point A to Point B. It is the most hassle-free way to get from where I live to downtown Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Sky Harbor International Airport!

ROB FREEDMAN

Valley Metro Rail rider

DRIVING THE ECONOMY

Promote livable,
economically competitive
communities.

$11 billion

in public and private investment in the corridor since light rail construction began

50 million

square feet of new construction across 344 projects

25,000+

new residential units and 4,000+ hotel rooms

38%

of all innovation spaces in metro Phoenix are along the light rail corridor

$2.6 billion

capital investment in educational facilities, including 60 new projects and 5.5 million new square feet

390,000

riders from Thursday to Sunday, including a record-breaking 126,000 on Saturday

300+

special events were directly served by light rail in 2017

20%

more rides at the 44th St/Washington station and 64% more rides on PHX Sky Train® after its extension to Terminal 3

The Northwest Extension set the stage and momentum to attract new businesses and visitors. It brought people together and ignited an effort to capitalize on the revitalization rail brings to the community.

SHANNON MCBRIDE

19NORTH Executive Director

FOSTERING COMMUNITY
HEALTH

Improve individual health
while supporting
community prosperity
and upward mobility.

*H + T © Index defines “affordability” as when combined housing and transportation costs are no more than 45% of total household income. See https://htaindex.cnt.org/map/

20

new K-12 schools, 17% increase in public and charter school enrollment and 21 new vocational schools and community colleges have opened in the corridor since light rail construction began

22%

increase in 4-year college and university enrollment in the corridor since 2008

46%

of Valley Metro Rail station areas with no access to grocery stores before light rail construction now have access to a grocery store within walking distance

19,133

tons of Criteria Air Pollutants were prevented by light rail from 2009–2017, reducing public health risks

50%

decrease in bicycle and pedestrian collisions in the light rail corridor and 10% decrease in collision fatalities

57%

of riders with access to a car chose to take Valley Metro Rail instead, equal to removing 27,000 car trips from the road daily and 8.2 million annually

60,806,751+

gallons of fuel have been saved since the light rail began operating

We must be able to offer people a choice to go to any of the places people need. This extends the ladders of opportunities, leading to a better life. It’s really the embodiment of the American Dream.

LESLIE T. ROGERS

Former Federal Transit Administration Region IX Administrator

VALLEY METRO RAIL MILESTONES

1996 + 2000

Local transit-supportive sales taxes are approved in Tempe and Phoenix.

2004

NOVEMBER
Maricopa County voters approve Proposition 400 that allows funding of the Regional Transportation Plan.

2005

JANUARY
Valley Metro Rail receives signed Full Funding Grant Agreement for $587 million in federal funding for the 20-mile light rail line.

2005

FEBRUARY
Official groundbreaking ceremony for the 20-mile light rail system.

2008

DECEMBER 27
The 20-mile Valley Metro Rail line opens for service.

2015

AUGUST
Opening of the Central Mesa Extension to Main Street and Mesa Drive.

2016

MARCH
Opening of the Northwest Phoenix Extension to 19th Avenue and Dunlap Avenue.

2016

OCTOBER
Groundbreaking of the Gilbert Road Extension to Main Street and Gilbert Road.

2017

JUNE
Groundbreaking of the first new station along an existing corridor at 50th and Washington streets.

2018

AUGUST
Major construction begins on the region’s first modern streetcar in Tempe.

2018

DECEMBER 27
10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF LIGHT RAIL

Ten years of light rail has invigorated our economy and revitalized entire corridors – our system is truly an Arizona success story that should be celebrated nationally.

MARK MITCHELL

Tempe Mayor

Here’s to light rail’s past decade and the many more decades on the tracks ahead!

One thing remains true, investing in light rail has improved the quality of life in our region. Its expansion will continue to be a catalyst for positive and exciting change for decades to come.

SCOTT SMITH

Valley Metro CEO

OVERVIEW
CONNECTING COMMUNITIES
ENHANCING EXPERIENCES
DRIVING ECONOMY
FOSTERING HEALTH