Photo by Hunter Franklin ’19 | People get ready to board the light rail going north bound on Central Ave. on Feb. 28, 2019.
By Frankie Pastor ’20
The Phoenix City Council voted on Sep. 26, 2018, to extend the Valley Metro light rail to South Central Phoenix.
According to AZCentral, the project is estimated to cost a total of $1 billion.
AZCentral also reports that the city government will pay $220 million for the light rail extension. In addition, the federal government and transportation tax revenue will pay for the remaining cost.
The light rail is expected to help commuters living in that area.
It’s a pain to get to school somedays, because live in South Phoenix, near South Mountain,” said Henry Fragozo’20.
“I have to take at least two buses, and the buses are really inconsistent with their time. The light rail is better because they always seem to be on time.”
Depending on the destination from the starting point, there are stops along the way that gives students time to accomplish any homework.
Carlos Dominguez ’22 said, “I do my homework in the light rail during the time it takes to get to school.”
Besides helping commuters get to their destinations, the light rail system is also expected to bring economic development to South Central Phoenix, such as more businesses and more jobs. But there are concerns that the trains would cause more traffic in the area.
Currently, there are only two lanes going in the north and south direction in southern Phoenix. With the extension, it is expected that it will reduce to only one lane.
“The light rail will give the community more businesses, but I think leaders should figure out a way to include more lanes with the extension,” said Michael Nowakowski’20.
Many residents in South Central Phoenix remain divided about the metro extension. AZCentral reports that a political committee known as “Building a Better Phoenix” is trying to have local residents and business owners in South Central Phoenix sign a petition that would cease the metro extension altogether.
The Phoenix Valley Metro system was a 20 year project, with several politicians introducing a bill trying to secure funding for the project, and trying to persuade voters the necessity for a metro system in the city. Voters voted twice against two initiatives.
However, voters finally supported a transit initiative that would fund the light rail back in 2000.
Despite the past setbacks and lack of support from voters, in 2018, the Phoenix Valley Metro was ranked within the country’s top 20 busiest transit systems. The light rail system has been serving the metropolitan area since Dec. 27, 2008.
The metro runs through downtown Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, and Glendale, including trains that connect to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
Now, the Phoenix City Council approved to extend the metro to South Central Phoenix.
Design plans for the South Central extension are currently underway.