(This is Tyler Hurst’s live blog about what it’s like to travel from downtown Chandler to downtown Phoenix using the Chandler BRT LINK and the Light Rail. He’s recently declared his candidacy to be Ashton Kutcher’s VP of Pop Culture with PopChips and he would love it if you voted for him here.)
3:03pm After the half mile walk in the sun, I arrive at the stop at Pecos and AZ Ave.
No one is on the bus.
Can’t use a credit card. Really? The newest, most advanced bus in our state doesn’t accept credit cards like a cab would? Who the hell carries cash anymore?
Ride is nice. Oh, the driver let me on even though I couldn’t buy a ticket. Nice guy.
3:06pm Just arrived at the intersection of the next stop, Chandler and AZ Ave. I’ve been on the bus for three minutes.
3:07pm Just stopped! One guy at the stop, second guy is mounting his bike on to the front. Both have passes. I should probably get one of those.
3:08pm Ugh. After Chandler Ave, AZ Ave gets really, really ugly. We’re obviously close to Mesa. My seat is definitely comfy. I’m up front.
3:09pm Just passed Ray Road without having to stop at the intersection. Driver pulled in to the stop just beyond for a second, then went around the bus that was there. This thing has less stops than the Light Rail. Nice!
3:11pm Just passed J.D. Byrider (car dealership). The dirt and rocks in front of that place is really ugly. Landscaping!
3:12pm Came to a rolling stop at Warner. Still have only hit one dead red light. No one at the stop just beyond the intersection, either.
3:12pm I am really hungry. I’m doing this no flour, sugar or Diet Coke thing for March and it’s way tough. My muscles feel…harder though. That’s good.
3:13pm Another green light at Elliott, and one guy to pick up at the stop. This bus driver either has the best timing ever or the technology to give the LINK busses priority actually works. Why don’t they use it for the Light Rail, too?
3:15pm Okay, the driver is playing the lights a bit, which is how they taught everyone to drive for better gas mileage. Smart and it’s better than going fast and then stopping.
3:17pm Just passed San Angelo. Picked up one older Hispanic dude, in an ASU cap, on the stop.
3:18pm More green lights. Woohoo! Uh, I was supposed to be in Phoenix three minutes ago. Perhaps next time I should check the LINK site so I’d know the busses only ran every half hour.
3:19pm Red light at Baseline! Damn that curve, we could have made the yellow had we not slowed down to navigate it.
3:20pm About to pass over the 60. Stop requested by someone in the back. Another red light at Juanita. This driver is losing points here.
3:21pm One guy off and six people on. One older white dude is putting his bike on the front. Crowd is a mix of casual professional types, a couple holding hands and two dudes who work some kind of construction. And a kid with skateboard and a mostly empty vodka bottle. Now he’s getting lippy. Driver told him to watch his mouth and get off the bus. Kid somehow found cash, but he’s waiting for the guy in front of him to finish. Kid is also wearing skinny jeans that are three inches too short, which he is compensating for my wearing them under his butt. I wish the driver had told him to screw off (yes, I know I didn’t pay, but I was nice about it and I didn’t ask to get on for free).
3:25pm Crossing the 60. Mildly concerned the drunk (probably) kid is going to start something. Now the same kid is yelling about drinking all his vodka. How is it okay to bring open hard liquor on public transportation? God, he laughs like a guy pretending to be a stoner. Ugh.
3:27pm Now the kid is talking all gangsta to the black dudes who got on a few miles ago. And he’s loud. Wish he’d been left.
3:29pm Another green light, then a stop across from Wendy’s new Bookmans. Five people on.
3:30pm Now the kid is slamming his foot on the floor asking the black guy to hit him. Threatening to break his head. Driver is now on the phone, I assume (hope) to some sort of security.
3:31pm Now we’re at Broadway and Country Club Drive. Kid got off, after a few more expletives and threats to the dudes in the back. Now the same kid is knocking on the windows and running alongside the bus. Oh…never mind. He stopped after ten feet.
3:32pm We’re in Mesa!
3:33pm Just hit Main St and Country Club Drive. Turning left. Red light (sigh).
3:34pm First stop is right next to Bailey’s Brake Service and a fenced-off lot. That chain link looks ugly.
3:35pm I shouldn’t be worried that I’m on a bus with a $1400 laptop and a $200+ iPhone in plain view, right? People don’t get mugged on busses here…right?
3:37pm Just passed Alma School. Green light, but there was a stop requested. One off.
3:38pm I see the Light Rail! Perhaps I should have timed this all a bit better.
3:42pm Train was there when the bus pulled up, but I had time to buy a ticket and walk over. No running, even. And I’m seated next to the smokers.
3:43pm We’re off! Light Rail is much louder. And we’ve hit the very first red light at Dobson. Shocking.
3:45pm Cars are passing us. Does the train really not go over 40mph?
3:46pm Stopped at 101 and Apache. Few students got on.
3:47pm Still stopped. Why? Red light. This is easily the most frustrating part of riding the Light Rail.
3:48pm Lots of people on the 101, especially southbound. Glad I didn’t drive.
3:49pm Lady in front of me is smacking her bag to the beat of whatever she’s listening to via headphones. She’s not very good.
3:51pm Stopped again at a red light. I have a feeling I won’t be in Phoenix until five.
3:53pm Cafe Istanbul is pretty good. Go with someone who’s gone before.
3:54pm Now passing the painted barracks of ASU students. And we almost made it across Rural, but hit another light.
3:55pm Did they condemn the restaurants at Terrace and Rural? They all moved out, but the building is still there, rotting.
3:56pm ASU campus! Lots of skinny jeans and super-short shorts.
3:57pm Now passing Sun Devil Stadium, or the “black hole for any cell device ever.”
3:58pm Student next to me is memorizing printouts of powerpoint slides. Should I tell her that nothing she reads is going to help her outside of college, ever?
3:58pm Huh. Students use the Light Rail to go from one end of the campus to another. Wonder if those short trips inflate Light Rail usage numbers.
3:59pm Almost across Mill Ave, but we hit another light. Love the mill there, though. Wonder what its fate will be? The Centerpoint Condo people bought it. Curious if that was part of any liquidation, bankruptcy or fire sale.
4:01pm Over Tempe Town Lake now. I can see where I proposed to Katie! Oh, and the spot just a few steps before where she asked if I was going to kill her. Sigh.
4:03pm People behind me are talking about potential employers looking at Facebook before interviews. They think it’s an invasion of privacy. Huh. Never knew non-geeks had a problem with that.
4:05pm Next stop is a service operator change. Does that happen every time they drive this way? I swear my driver changes every time.
4:06pm Lanes on the 202 look surprisingly clear. Perhaps taking my car would have been smarter, but it did only cost me $3.50 on the train and a gallon of gas is about $3.25, so I guess I saved about $4. Only cost me, so far, an hour and twenty minutes!
4:08pm We stopped for nearly two minutes at the intersection (three-way, at that) across from Le Girls. So much for having the right of way. I swear Light Rail officials said that the trains would have priority.
4:10pm Now stopped at the airport, across from aLoft. If you’ve never seen aLoft, go check it out. Very nice hotel, especially for techie travelers who like access to WiFi, power and quick meals. Also clean and fun.
4:12pm On the last song of my Tron playlist, which I started when I began writing. I guess it’s a short soundtrack, but this is a super long time to be on a train. Wonder how many people regularly commute like this?
4:13pm Just picked up a bunch of people across from Gateway Community College. I should probably move by bag so some of them can sit down, but then they’d see me writing about them. Oh good, there are other seats available, so I’m not the only jerk.
4:15pm Now watching a lady, while driving a new black Camaro, picking her nose, talking on her phone and smoking a cigarette. You stay classy there.
4:16pm 24th and Washington St feels like the north/south border between Mexico and the US.
4:18pm iPhone seldom works on this long stretch between south Phoenix and downtown. Why? There’s no structures blocking anything. Such an odd place not to have service.
4:19pm 12th St and Washington stop. I have never entered or exited the train from here.
4:20pm Los Dos Molinos! Is that place good? Eating there would give me a reason to get off the train at a new stop!
4:21pm Just crossed 7th St into the concrete jungle that is downtown Phoenix. If not for the out of place palm trees, I’d have no idea what city I was in. Lots of walls facing the street, too.
4:22pm Lady texting in front of me “IM BEARLY ON CENTRAL N WASHNTN. IMA GO TO…” she said more, but I started to feel creepy. Maybe she should start bopping to the beat again.
4:24pm Lady to her crying child: “why are you being such a poopyhead” in a childlike voice. Really lady? Can’t think of a better name than that?
4:25pm Lots of suited, older people getting on at Washington and Central. Oh, I see the Wyndham, where Si and Morgan are getting married (pretty sure on that).
4:26pm Almost to Van Buren and Central stop. Lots of glass and concrete everywhere. I had no idea how little downtown Phoenix looks like anything I thought Phoenix would look like.
4:27pm Kid on a leash just fell on his face while climbing the stair. Pretty fat kid though, he bounced up. His mom, holding the leash, didn’t even break his fall.
4:29pm Made it to Roosevelt and Central to see the TED live stream, courtesy of TEDxScottsdale.