On December 27, 2008, Phoenix finally caught up with the rest of the world and added a light rail system. The route is small as of now...but hopefully it will go all over the city in the near future.
Compared to Brussels or Vienna or even NYC, the rail system isn't as accessible, but it's pretty nice. It's above ground and goes from East Mesa, to central Phoenix...about 20 miles in all.
We were allowed to ride for free for the first few days, so we did, to get the experience in and see what it looks and feels like. It's excellent for hubby and I to take to the airport because we live about 30 miles from the airport and we can avoid the high parking fees there.
As of 2008/2009, the route goes from Christown Mall on Bethany Home and 19th ave in Phoenix, to Tri-City Pavilions at Sycamore and Main St in Mesa. There are 28 stops along the way, including downtown Phoenix, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, ASU, Mill Ave in Tempe, Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, and Mesa.
The stations are clean and outdoors which may be hard to deal with in the summer, but the train comes every 15 minutes, so maybe not too bad.
We boarded at the station in Mesa and went West, to the airport which is the Washington and 44th st stop. The ride took about 20 minutes and was smooth.
Once you get off the train for the airport stop, you'll have to cross the street and then take a shuttle bus to the terminals, which is free of charge. That shuttle will take about 5 minutes, depending on what terminal you need.
There will eventually be a train to take you directly to the terminals, but that's a couple years way still.
The cars are wheelchair accessible and there are racks for bicycles. The stations are announced verbally as you are arriving as well as on a digital reader board overhead in each car. There is also a routemap over the doors.
No bathrooms at the stations or on board, just an FYI. I didn't see any vending machines at the stations either, so if you need to have something to drink, have it with you.
There are seats as well as bars to hold on overhead, but I'm 5'2" and I could barely reach the overhead bar.
You can purchase single ride tickets, all day passes, as well as passes for, 3days, 7days or 31days. The passes are good for the bus system as well. There are machines to purchase passes at all stations. You can also get passes on the bus or online at the website below.
The train operates on a proof-of-payment system, meaning you must have a ticket to ride. Inspectors will ask people at random to see their ticket. If you don't have one, you may be fined from $50 to $500. A single ride is only $1.25, so don't risk it.
If you DO have a pass, you simply wave it over the orange validator target on the pass machine at the station before you board.
Hours of operation are M-F 4:40am to 11pm.
Weekends and holidays 5am to 11pm
Between 6am and 7pm, trains run every 15minutes, other hours, they run every 20minutes.
If you would like to see the map, click on the link below. You can also get info on the bus system and buy passes on that website.