Extending the hours to run light rail has been a hot topic for quite some time. Over the past couple of months, I have met with several business owners, downtown advocates, and a PR firm discussing the pros and cons of the politics and funding of such a campaign. Last week, when I heard about the upcoming Phoenix City Council meeting where the topic is on the agenda, I was pleasantly surprised.
This morning, the AZ Republic is reporting about a possible grant that could help pay for the extension. “Trains now begin their final runs on the 20-mile line at 11 p.m. But Metro officials will propose Wednesday that, starting July 1, the last runs begin at 2 a.m. for late Friday- and Saturday-night revelers.”
Right now, paying for anything appears to be tough, but the grant can be used to pick up a tab that should be “no more than an estimated $300,000 annually.” All of this needs approval on several fronts and isn’t necessarily a slam dunk at this point. Is there a back-up plan in place? Are other options available or necessary? This is going to be interesting and will be discussed at Thursday’s council meeting.
Sean’s article today titled “Light rail considering late weekend hours” mentions the “party” aspect of extending the hours, but there may be more at stake. For instance, concerts, the Symphony, First Friday art walks, sporting events and a ton of other activities are things that people often choose to drive to rather than taking the light rail, because of the worry of missing a train if they decide to have a late dinner, a drink or dessert afterwards. What are the economic benefits from people staying out later? Does it really help overall ridership? Are sales tax receipts in the area outperforming other areas?
It will be very interesting to see the discussions that continue to evolve over this potential extension.
I think we need to not let this debate get framed in terms of “late night partiers.” The reality is that many people work late, as well, and benefit from light rail: cleaning crews, service industry, etc.
With the recent changes to the downtown parking situation, this is nothing but excellent news for people who want to go downtown in the evening and stay to enjoy some nightlife. I’m thrilled to see that the city is finally making progress on this front, and am hopeful to see this progress bring fruit.
ben bethel says
Easy to pay for – because it shouldn’t cost a thing to extend hours! decrease peak frequency by 2 minutes to give extra trains per day – more than enough for 30 minute service from 1130pm to 330am! Not only would we have late-night service, but we’d have a truly 24-hour metro!
W. K. Lis says
Toronto has an overnight service called the Blue Night Network. Buses and streetcars run on most major routes (transit stops are marked with a reflective blue band) every morning from about 1:30 am to 5:00 am Service is provided every 30 minutes or better.
Thanks for all of the great comments. There is obviously a lot of things that go into these decisions. I’m glad to hear peoples opinions!