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Light rail adds new dimension to Downtown Phoenix campus

December 12, 2008

When the Metro Light Rail makes its Dec. 27 debut, it will end shuttle service between the Tempe and Downtown Phoenix campuses, but usher in new era of public transportation.

Arizona State University plans to discontinue the shuttle service on Dec. 22 and is counting on light rail to improve upon the model they created in 2006.

“It really is a better service because students will be able to catch a train every 10 minutes as opposed to waiting a half-hour for the bus,” said Patrice Bettison-Clark, public relations specialist for ASU’s Parking and Transit Services. “It’s going to be different and it’s going to be a change, but it’s a positive change.” She added that it will take about 25 minutes to go from Tempe to the Downtown Phoenix campus.

Metro representatives say light rail trains will run their first full trip at 4:40 a.m. on weekdays and 5 a.m. on weekends. Trains will arrive at each stop every 10 minutes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and every 15 to 20 minutes on weekends and off-peak hours. The last full trip begins at 11 p.m. and ends at midnight.

Stations located at the Downtown Phoenix campus include stops at Central Avenue and Van Buren Street, First Avenue and Van Buren Street,Third Street and Washington and Third Street and Jefferson. Tempe stations are located at Veteran’s Way and College Ave., University Drive and Rural Road and Mill Avenue and Third Street.

ASU Parking and Transit Director Theresa Fletcher said the 20-mile light rail system is environmentally friendly, will allow riders access to civic places of interest, alleviate the need for additional parking in downtown Phoenix and provide users with a reliable mode of transportation. She added that light rail will also save the school approximately half a million dollars a year in costs.

“That cost savings is important during these hard economic times,” Fletcher said. “Students who use the service will also help in the future development of light rail.” Metro representatives say that an additional 37 miles of high capacity transit will be built by 2025.

Nicole Ethier, a 20-year-old journalism student who divides her time between Tempe and downtown Phoenix, said light rail’s debut sends a message that Phoenix has emerged as a metropolitan city.

“I feel as if Phoenix is finally becoming a big city by providing alternative transportation rather than just driving your car everywhere,” Ethier said. “I never thought of the downtown area as a city before. It’s now an urban downtown.”

Rabia Abdul-Majeed, a nursing student who lives in Tempe, said she’ll be taking light rail to get to the Downtown Phoenix campus.

“Light rail has a lot of buzz and there’s an excitement about it,” Abdul-Majeed said. “I’m looking forward to utilizing it and cutting down on my wait time.”

Despite the advantages and buzz surrounding light rail, Metro spokeswoman Hillary Foose said safety is the message her organization wants to convey to students.

“We look forward to having ASU students on board, but it’s critical to remember how to be safe around light rail,” Foose said. She recommended riders brush up on their safety skills and conduct at

Metro Light Rail will start service on Saturday, Dec. 27 and will offer free rides starting on Dec. 27 until Wednesday, Dec. 31. Regular service will start Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009.

For more information on Metro Light Rail, call (602) 254-RAIL or visit

Metro Light Rail Safety Tips:

-           Light rail is quiet; look and listen for the train

-           Obey the traffic signals; stop on red

-           Use the crosswalks and obey all signals

-           Stay off the track; never drive, bike, walk or skateboard on the tracks

-           Stay clear of the overhead wires; they are energized