Currently, taking light rail to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is done via a shuttle service that runs on schedule with Metro. So far, the shuttle system is working well and is a good way for travelers to get to the airport. By 2013, (end of 2012 is the projection) we are scheduled to have the opening of the first phase of a much better and more efficient way to move a LOT of people around a very busy airport. The new system is called “Sky Train” which will be a free service operating 24 hours a day (source, Phoenix.gov) with daily ridership of more than 96,000 passengers.
Last Friday, I attended a breakfast meeting with the people at Valley Partnership and learned more about the Sky Train system. I was quite impressed by the information and the presentation. This elevated system is going to be a great addition to the airport. From the area of 44th street and Washington, there will be a new transportation hub of activity designed to remove traffic off of Sky Harbor Blvd which should help with the capacity issues of the area. This new “gateway to the airport” will have drop off points for public and private transportation. A trip to the airport will be approximately 3-5 minutes directly to the terminals. There will be huge changes to the area and to the way people are able to get to and from their destinations.
From Hensel Phelps Construction we learn about more of the demand issues surrounding the PHX Sky Train project that will link the airport to our light rail system:
“the airport serves 42 million passengers per year, and this number is projected to rise to 45 to 50 million by 2013, when the automated train system is complete. The goal is to remove about 20,000 cars and trucks – up to 20% of the traffic circling Sky Harbor – from the airport area. The system will address passenger needs, alleviate roadway traffic and pollution, and link the airport to the Valley's light rail system.”
An enclosed, air-conditioned bridge with moveable walkways will move people from light rail to the Sky Train. While they are currently about 1 year into construction, a much more noticeable phase of construction begins soon. The train drop off points will be LEED certified stations and I believe Bombardier Transportation has been chosen as the provider of the cars. The train will travel from 44th St and Washington to SR153 and to the airport. At one point, the elevated system will travel over the top of a runway where planes will taxi underneath. Our presenter at last week’s breakfast “jokingly” said that approximately 1000 people a day will ride the trains just for fun.