A Brief History Of Public Transportation in Metro Phoenix
For current route, schedule, and fare information, and for official information on the new Light Rail system, see the Valley Metro site.
- November 1: Construction begins in the Town of Maricopa in the building of the first railroad line to Phoenix by the Maricopa & Phoenix Railroad.
- Public transportation begins in Phoenix when a private company puts horse-drawn cars on Washington Street between 7th Street and 7th Avenue. General Moses Hazeltine Sherman is the company’s owner.
- June 19: The very first passenger train arrives in Tempe at what is today Macayo’s Depot Cantina, operated by Maricopa & Phoenix Railroad.
- July 4: The very first passenger train arrives in Phoenix, operated by Maricopa & Phoenix Railroad.
- The Phoenix Street Railway Company has expanded to eight miles of track, five cars, and twenty-five mules and horses.
- September 28: The first electric streetcar makes its debut in Phoenix
- March 4: The first Santa Fe, Prescott & Phoenix Railway train arrives in Phoenix. The first passenger train linking Ash Fork, Prescott, Wickenburg, Glendale and Phoenix arrives on March 14.
- June: All horse-drawn streetcars are replaced by electric cars.
- The Phoenix and Eastern Railroad (AT&SF affiliate) offers “Suburban Passenger Service” steam trains between Phoenix and Tempe. Trains leave Tempe at 11:00am, 3:20pm, 6:55pm; from Phoenix, departures at 8:45am, 9:45am, 5:40pm.This line, a competitor to the parallel Southern Pacific affiliated route, is discontinued when the March 20, 1905 floodwaters destroyed the bridge across the Salt River. Photos of the scene can be viewed at Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe. SP purchased the remaining assets of the Ph&E in 1907. (source: David Myrick, Railroads of Arizona, pp. 545-582)
- A fire destroys the car barn and eight streetcars. In the same year, construction begins on the Orangewood Line from Phoenix to Glendale. Both of these events proved disastrous to the company.
- Sherman’s company has deteriorated, both financially and materially. The company reorganizes and expands. There are now 17.54 miles of track route in the city, with a five-cent fare; and 12.29 miles of suburban track to Glendale, with a one-way fare of thirty-five-cents. The company owns thirty cars, including both open and closed type, plus two work cars.
- Employees of Sherman’s street railway company organize and go on strike, seeking improved working conditions, better equipment and higher pay. From this point in time, Sherman’s system gradually deteriorates.
- Thirty-two miles of streetcar track and seven divisions cover the Eastern, Western and Northern sections of the city, with a suburban line running to Glendale. In the early 1920′s, ridership will decline, tracks and equipment deteriorate and revenues run short.
- Phoenix Union Station opens in October, replacing separate Southern Pacific and Santa Fe facilities that were approximately one mile apart.
- Sherman sells the private company to the City of Phoenix for the $20,000 “junk value.” The 1925 Phoenix Street Railway Controversy ensues as city officials and citizens debate the virtues of private ownership and operation verses municipal ownership and operation, or private management under municipal ownership, and buses verses streetcars as the primary mode of public transportation. The decision was determined, though the issues were far from resolved, and the City of Phoenix became the owner and operator of its public transportation system.
- The “Phoenix Main Line” of the Southern Pacific from Picacho to Wellton is completed.
- Southern Pacific’s transcontinental passenger trains, including the Los Angeles-Chicago Golden State Limited and the Los Angeles-New Orleans Sunset Limited are re-routed through Phoenix over the new line.
- Phoenicians vote $750,000 in bonds to rehabilitate their system. Additional bonds are issued to purchase eighteen forty-passenger Brill streetcars from the American Car Company of St. Louis as well as additional buses. Two Studebaker buses had already been in operation as “feeders” in the Southern section of the city.
- The first of the new Brill streetcars begin operation on Christmas Day.
- Two twenty-one-passenger Studebaker buses are purchased. Service on the highly unprofitable Orangewood Line, beyond Third Street and Indian School Road, terminates in July. This is the best year in revenues and service for the public transportation system up to this time.
- Between 1930 and 1932, the system declines drastically under the effects of the Great Depression. Cuts in service and increased fares only accelerate the decline.
- The City Commission’s new members implement a return to maximum service, and a five-cent fare; these help bring the system out of its slump.
- Employees establish the Phoenix Local 1023 of the Amalgamated Association of Street Electric Railway and Motorcoach Employees of America; an effort to control political manipulations. A closed-shop contract is signed with the city.
- C. M. Menderson seeks to establish a unified bus system under private ownership and operation. The street railway’s bond debt prohibit this take-over attempt. Instead, Menderson’s bus system extends service to Tempe and Mesa. In the 1935-36 budget year, the streetcars operate 1,112,000 miles and carry 5,1712,000 passengers.
- The Phoenix city attorney’s office initiates legal action against Menderson Bus Lines for “unfair competition.” A renewed safety effort prompted the Street Railway Accident Prevention Campaign reduces accidents by approximately 50 percent.
- In March, the city adds five twenty-six-passenger Patchetts and Carstensen motor buses to the existing fleet of four Studebakers and one Ford. In September, six new Ford buses restore service to the once unprofitable Grand Avenue Street Railway Line.
- Menderson Bus Lines opened a $40,000 garage and maintenance building at 12th Street and Van Buren. Citizens appealed to the city to remove streetcars and to implement buses because of the noise.
- Menderson’s parking zone for his terminal facilities was designated. The municipal system was studied for recommendations on sound-proofing the streetcars. With both cars and buses in operation in the 1939-40 budget year, the city system operated over 1,500,000 miles and carried 7,750,000 passengers.
- A decision was made to replace the streetcars and to begin installing a comprehensive bus system. The streetcars were saved by the wartime transportation needs.
- The city changed the bus and streetcar paint scheme from yellow and green to a two-tone green; they were also renumbered.
- The system had seventeen streetcars and twenty-three buses of various models and makes, but each one had a twenty-seven-passenger capacity.
- Transit routes in wartime, as shown on a map in the book “Ride a Mile and Smile the While,” included buses to
- Luke Field / Thunderbird
- Williams Field in Mesa
- Following years of heated competition between Menderson and the city, all six of the bus systems in Phoenix signed an agreement to eliminate “wasteful” competition, as directed by the Office of Defense Transportation. C. M. Menderson sold his bus company to a partnership of five lawyers. The city renovated the Hupmobile Garage at 225 West Washington Street for its new downtown bus terminal; this was one of the few intra-city bus terminals in use in the country. The system still operated the seventeen streetcars but had fifty-five buses, comprising almost every type of body manufactured. Maintenance problems were terrific with seven different types of motors and transmissions in use. The city system carried 20,000,000 passengers and covered almost 4,000,000 miles during the 1943-1944 budget year.
- During the 1944-45 budget year, the system reached a peak of 22,000,000 passengers carried on seventeen streetcars and sixty-eight buses operating 4,500,000 miles.
- The Phoenix Transportation System instituted a comprehensive training program and established a fleet standardization program with the purchase of ten thirty-six-passenger GMC buses.
- Menderson Bus Line was renamed, Metropolitan Lines. Citizens promoted unification of all bus services under the municipal system, without success. The city’s standardization program received a severe jolt when twelve twenty-seven-passenger Ford transit buses were purchased. Both streetcars and tracks were worn out by this time and it was necessary to purchase anything that could be delivered.
- In October, a fire destroyed the car barn and all but six streetcars forcing an immediate decision by city officials on whether to rebuild the streetcar tracks and purchase new cars, to switch to trolley buses or to modernize with new, large transit buses. The decision was in favor of buses and General Motors was able to supply five fifty-five passenger diesel hydraulic models, eight thirty-six-passenger buses and five thirty-two-passenger gas manual buses purchased on a cancellation order. The Eighteenth Legislature passed Senate Bill No. 52 which was designed to restrict competition.
- The last of the seven streetcars in operation ended service in February. Standardization continued with the purchase of four thirty-six-passenger and six forty-five-passenger GMC buses.
- Ford again disrupted the modernization and standardization program with five thirty-one-passenger buses. Only two thirty-six passenger GMC buses could be purchased.
- Mr. L. G. Porter, Transportation Consultant for General Motors, made a comprehensive study of the system. The most satisfactory improvement suggested and adopted was the elimination of the bus terminal.
- The city purchased four forty-five-passenger and six thirty-six-passenger GMC buses.
- April: Although exact railway schedules vary by season and over the years, a typical day at Union Station would see twelve trains:
- The Imperial (one eastbound to Chicago, one westbound to Los Angeles)
- The Sunset Limited (one eastbound to New Orleans, one westbound to Los Angeles)
- The Golden State (one eastbound with cars offering direct through service to Kansas City, Chicago, St. Louis, New York, and Minneapolis; one westbound to Los Angeles)
- Two additional Southern Pacific passenger trains (“#44″ eastbound to Tucumcari; “#43″ westbound to Los Angeles)
- Two Santa Fe passenger trains, “#47″ from Williams, Arizona and “#42″ back to Williams; these trains offered connections to the four daily trains in each direction which ran through Williams. At Williams, transfers could be made to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Amarillo, Kansas City, and Chicago.
- Also on the Santa Fe, a daily train runs to Barstow via Wickenburg and Parker.
- Four more forty-five-passenger GMC coaches were added. The fleet then totaled fifty-four GMC units. As new units were purchased, old units were declared surplus and disposed. In July 1948, the city owned eighty-nine units, while in July 1953, it owned seventy-two units but actually had more seating capacity.
- From 1942 to 1952, passengers carried completed a cycle from 10,000,000 through 22,000,000, back to 11,000,000 per year. Miles operated went from 31,000,000 through 4,500,000, back to 3,000,000 miles per year. Operators’ salaries increased from $.75 per hour to $1.73 per hour.
- City officials, guided by the powerful influence of Phoenix magnate Eugene Pulliam, attempted to sell the bus system to a private investment firm that would also have purchased Metropolitan Lines. Taxpayers were told the system was a tax burden and that the private firms could turn a profit and improve the service. The city drivers and other private concerns provided successful opposition, and the voters denied the sale attempt. Pulliam’s campaign to divest the system was hardly over. L. A. Tanner purchased Metropolitan lines and renamed the new system, Valley Transit Line (VTL).
- The daily Santa Fe Phoenix-Wickenburg-Parker-Barstow train is discontinued.
- City officials persuaded Carl Rawlings to not oppose the sale, and the system had declined enough that voters sold the system to L. A. Tanner. Unification of all bus systems was achieved under VTL.
- Tanner’s bus operators went on strike for fifty-six days in an attempt to secure higher wages. The strike was a failure and hastened the decline of public transit in Phoenix.
- Downgrading of Phoenix’s intercity rail passenger service begins in earnest with the consolidation of the Golden State and the Sunset Limited into one train between Los Angeles and El Paso.
- The 109 buses of VTL were sold to American Transit Systems of St. Louis for just under a million dollars. The system was renamed, Phoenix Transit System (PTS). PTS continued Tanner’s attempt to secure tax relief and other forms of subsidization from the city. The operation continued to decline as costs increased and patronage decreased.
- The Golden State makes its final run in February.
- April: The last regularly scheduled Santa Fe Railway passenger train, “Train #42,” departs Phoenix Union Station for Williams Junction in Northern Arizona.
- The City of Phoenix and American Transit formed a new organizational system whereby the city took ownership and control of the bus system and PTS contracted to manage the system based on an established fee. Immediately, processes began for submission of a grant application to the Urban Mass Transportation Administration for the purchase of fifty-five new buses.
- May 1: Amtrak takes over most remaining intercity routes, including the Southern Pacific Railroad Sunset Limited train service.
- John Balfour’s “The Bug Line” began operating a free, crosstown bus service from Christown [renamed "Spectrum Mall" in the late 1990s] to ASU. Operating revenues were generated through the sale of advertisements.
- Downtown business concerns pushed for the establishment of a new downtown bus terminal on the site of the old Fox Theater. The facility was designed as a rustic looking, rural bus depot.
- The Bug Line terminated its services, in part, because the Arizona Corporation Commission refused to grant a charter permit.
- In a two-year celebration of the United States Bicentennial, the American Freedom Train, a steam-powered passenger train (SPRR locomotive #4449) visits Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe, AZ. in February 1976. While in Tempe, the train is temporarily parked on the Creamery Branch in front of ASU Sun Devil Stadium for students and residents. Variations of the special train also visted Arizona in both fall 1975 and April 1977.
- Phoenix Transit integrated “Dial-A-Ride” service for use in low-density areas and as “feeders” for the bus system.
- February 25 – March 7:Â ”The Hattie B” Emergency Salt River Flood commuter train.
In the aftermath of the floods of 1980, when the popular “Hattie B.” was almost the only way to get from Mesa and Tempe to Phoenix. The Hattie B. service, named after the wife of then-Governor Bruce Babbitt, lasted just a few weeks until the highway bridges were reopened.
When record rainfall in mid-February 1980 made the normally dry Salt River in Phoenix, Ariz., a raging torrent, it washed all but three of the many river crossings, cutting the capital in half. The two major highway bridges open experienced 10-mile-long traffic jams, and commuters were spending 8 hours a day in line – so transportation officials went to work.
Arizona DOT, Amtrak, FEMA and Southern Pacific Railroad arranged for an emergency commuter-train service, and on February 24 a train of two F40 diesels, five “Amcoaches,” and a Southern Pacific business car (parked in Phoenix for train-crew accommodation) arrived. The train shuttled continuously, 5:30 am – 10 pm, Monday through Friday, over SP between Union Station in Phoenix and the SP station in Mesa, 15 miles east. Two intermediate stops – at a McClintock Rd in Tempe and at 36th St/Air Lane in Phoenix – were established.
To everyone’s surprise, the service became the “Sardine Express” as commuters quickly quit their autos; the train carried 24,788 passengers in the first week (or 12 trainloads a day). A sixth coach became necessary, and requests were heard to continue to service after the crisis. With the reopening of a highway bridge, however,Â the serviceÂ ended on March 7.
Over 45,800 passengers rode the train over ten days. Because the train was an emergency measure, it received state and Federal funds, and the one-way fare was just $1; the train lost $30,000 per week. But if nothing else, the “Sardine Express” awakened an auto-oriented city to the possibility of implementing rail commuter service in the future. Many wanted the service to continue, and there were even proposals to operate the service privately. A lack of interest on the part of the cities and the Highway Department were widely seen as the reason none of the proposals proceeded.
- The Public Transportation Administration became an official city department with Dick Thomas as the new administrator, following Ed Colby. The city created an urban style bus mall at the downtown terminal through expansion, renovation and changes to the lane structures.
- October: Funds Generated by Proposition 300 created the Regional Public Transit Authority (RPTA). The RPTA was charged with developing a regional transit plan, finding a dedicated funding source for transit and developing and operating a regional transit system. Â Prop. 300 raised Maricopa County’s sales tax by 1/2 cent in order to build 271 miles of new freeway. Approximately $2-5 million per year was allocated to the RPTA.
- Amtrak resumes service to Tempe.
- March: The RPTA submitted a $8-10 billion referendum (ValTrans, Proposition 300) proposal to the voters seeking a half-cent increase in the sales tax for a multi-modal rapid transit system for the entire region. This plan included a county-wide, 7-day a week local bus system; a county-wide highway-based bus-rapid transit system; 27 miles of new bus-only lanes; regional Dial-A-Ride, vanpool and rideshare services; 23 miles of commuter rail connecting Chandler with Phoenix, and 103 miles of elevated Automated People Mover system, to be known as ValTrans, for the entire Valley. The APM system (or more precisely the Intermediate Capacity Transportation System (ICTS) which is today used only by Vancouver’s SkyTrain), would have a top speed of 60mph and allow people to board elevated stations (much like monorails) and travel above street traffic between destinations. The proposal is defeated by 61% of the voters. The cost of the system, as well as public disatisfaction with the notion of elevated transit above neighborhoods, is cited for its failure at the polls.
- Mesa’s classic Southern Pacific Depot (located at 3rd Ave & Robson near downtown Mesa) burns downÂ due toÂ a vagrant’s fire. Â (visit Arizona Railway Museum’s photo archive to view this depot in its heydayÂ - http://www.azrymuseum.org/collection/img0267.htm )
- Since the summer of 1989, 21 incorporated communities, two Air Force Bases and five retirement communities had worked to develop local transit plans based on needs and preferences expressed by their citizens. In May of 1990, a regional citizen committee was established and charged with melding these diverse local plans in a comprehensive regional transit plan to serve the residents of Maricopa County. The Regional Transit Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) consisted of nearly 120 residents who were invited to serve by their communities and the RPTA Board of Directors.
- February: First “Phoenix Union Station Days” held. Various railroad equipment is present, along with a visit from a special steam-powered Grand Canyon Railway ‘Hassayampa Special’ train that has run down the Peavine from Williams. This is the first steam powered train on the Peavine since 1953.
- April: the Bus Card Plus Program was implemented. Since its inception, the program has helped employers meet Travel Reduction Program goals and helped employees save money. Bus Card participants receive a card encoded with the employer’s account number, individual serial number, fare category and two-year expiration date. By using magnetic card-reading technology, Bus Card Plus will track and record each bus trip.
- After an overwhelmingly successful demonstration project, the Bike on Bus program became available to passengers on nearly all local and express buses. All of the bike rack development, testing and implementation was done in-house. The Bike on Bus program is especially appealing to commuters who live too far from bus stops to walk, but enjoy riding their bikes that distance.
- Beginning in November, a new form of advertising called Contra Vision was displayed on some PTS buses. Contra Vision advertisements cover the entire length of the bus with a transparent polyester material that does not affect passengers’ view from inside.
- The RPTA Board adopted Valley Metro as the identity for the regional transit system. The Valley Metro logo and purple and green paint scheme is being incorporated into RPTA’s fleet of bus and dial-a-ride vehicles. The cities of Phoenix and Mesa agreed to adopt the Valley Metro name and paint scheme as well.
- February: Arizona Rail Passenger Association operates ‘Arizona Rail Express’. A special train from Phoenix to Tucson and return, the purpose of the demonstration train was to introduce civic leaders and the media to the Regional Rail concept. The cost of the Arizona Rail Express Demonstration was underwritten by corporate sponsorship.
- February: Second “Phoenix Union Station Days” held. Various railroad equipment is present, including participants and sponsors such as Amtrak, Princess Tours, Metrolink, Operation Lifesaver, GM-EMD, SantaFe, Southern Pacific, Verde Canyon Railroad, Grand Canyon Railway, Sierra Madre Express
- March 1: the four E-Z Lines began operating. The four new lines, called Red Line, Blue Line, Green Line and Yellow Line were designed to serve the largest employment centers in the region. The Red Line/Blue Line enables patrons to travel from one point to another in one bus instead of two or three. To meet the demands for bus service from people in the North Phoenix area, bus routes 138 (Thunderbird), 170 (Bell Road) and 186 (Union Hills) were implemented.
- August: ICE German train visits Phoenix on a nationwide tour to demonstration high speed railroad technology. The train is a candidate for the Northeast Corridor High Speed Rail Project.
- Low-floor buses (New Flyer LTD) were added to the Valley Metro fleet. RPTA purchased 71 low-floor buses, the first of which began appearing in September. This latest bus technology makes it easier for small children, senior citizens and persons with disabilities to board Valley Metro buses.
- November: Proposition 400 Freeway/Bus Plan was presented to the Maricopa County voters on the November 8th general election ballot.Â This plan was created in order to ‘Finish The Freeways’ and raise an additional 1/4 cent for the flailing 1985 freeway system plan, which was currently over-budget, behind schedule and mired in political and real-estate related controversies. If approved, the half-cent sales tax would have also raised a quarter-cent of which would fund the Regional Transit Plan. With Proposition 400, the bus service would more than double, buses would operate seven days a week with extended hours, Dial-a-Ride service would become regionalized and transit vehicles would operate on cleaner fuels. No funds would be used for rail planning, operations or construction. The voters rejected the plan by 54%. The media of the time shows that the public was disatisfied with the notion of being asked to pay another 1/2 cent for unfinished freeways, especially since just nine years earlier they had passed a similar tax, thus Prop 400′s failure at the polls.
- December: The original 1985 freeway plan had only 24-miles completed by late 1994 and with a massive budget shortfall and the defeat of Prop. 400 at the polls, action was taken to scale-back the original 1985 plan. The Governor, Maricopa Association of Governments, ADOT and the State Transportation Board agreed to salvage most of the plan, but reduced the freeway network by 76-miles. The Paradise Parkway (a mid-town Phoenix freeway connecting Loop 101, I-17 and SR51 along the Missouri Ave alignment) was permanently deleted due to its $1 billion cost and neighborhood opposition. In addition, Grand Ave was deleted as a state classified freeway and the South Mountain Freeway was deferred indefinitely.Â (In 2005, it would later be resurrected in new corridor studies.)
- Valley Metro made it easier for people to use transit by becoming the first bus system in the country to accept credit cards — VISA, MasterCard and VISA debit cards — for bus fare. The program was discontinued several years later, due to rising costs and lower-than-anticipated usage.
- June 2: The last Amtrak train leaves Phoenix.
- September: The residents of the City of Tempe voted to increase their local sales tax for 20-years to fund improved transit services (Proposition 400). Collection of the new tax was effective January 1, 1997. However, the City of Tempe decided to “Jump Start” certain transit improvements effective November 17, 1996 to offset an increase in air pollution which the Valley experiences every winter. These improvements include Sunday service, extended evening service, bus-pullouts and expanded Tempe Dial-a-Ride service. The measure passed by 52%.
- September 24: Ground breaking for the new Central Station. The Central Station site covers 2.6 acres between Central and First Avenues and Van Buren. Central Station will serve 12 local routes, alone with Dial-a-Ride and DASH. It will house ticket sales, transit information and security staff.
- September: The residents of the City of Phoenix narrowly defeated a measure to increase their local sales tax by 1/2 cent to fund improved transit services (Proposition 1).Â These improvements included Sunday service, extended evening service, bus-pullouts, express bus service and expanded Dial-a-Ride service.Â Study money for light rail was also included, but no funds could be used for rail operations or construction. The Phoenix transit referendum fails by 126 votes of over 110,000 cast.
- September: The residents of the City of Scottsdale handily defeated a measure to increase their local sales tax by 1/2 cent to fund improved transit services (Proposition 1).Â These improvements included Sunday service, extended evening service, bus-pullouts, express bus service and expanded Dial-a-Ride service.Â The initiative was defeated by 64% of the voters.
- April: The Arizona Diamondbacks operate the ‘Diamondbacks Express’ train between Tempe Macayo’s Depot Cantina and Bank One Ballpark in Downtown Phoenix. The train is commissioned to kick off the inaugural season of the baseball team, as well as to test the potential market for operating passenger trains to the Ballpark. Two round trip trains are operated over the weekend, with each train carrying 500 baseball fans. Each of the 1,000 $10 train tickets sold out within an hour.
- September: The residents of the City of Chandler defeated a measure to increase their local sales tax by 3/8 cent to fund improved transit services (Question 1).Â These improvements included Sunday service, extended evening service, bus-pullouts, express bus service and expanded Dial-a-Ride service.Â The initiative was defeated by 58% of the voters.
- March: Phoenix “Transit 2000″ light rail and bus initiative passes by a 2-to-1 margin (65% Yes to 35% No.) Light rail planning accelerates on the Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Project. 24-miles of light rail within the City of Phoenix limits are approved. Bus transit improvements such as Sunday service, extended evening service, bus-pullouts, express bus service and expanded Dial-a-Ride service, begin immediately.
- May: The Talgo train visits Phoenix Union Station during the “Transpo 2000″ event. Over 2,500 persons came to Phoenix Union Station to see the lightweight TALGO pendular train (on loan from Amtrak), brand new buses, excursion trains, and a variety of exhibits about Arizona’s multi-modal future. The train demonstrated passenger travel between Wickenburg and Glendale on May 4, and between Phoenix and Tucson on May 5th. With the Phoenix metro area ready to build light rail within its cities, the purpose of “Transpo 2000″ was to entitle the general public to consider regional and commuter passenger train service to bring people to the central cities from outlying areas; Amtrak transcontinental service directly through Tucson and Phoenix, and daily trains to southern California; and City and intercity buses and other public and private transit… all working together.
- Summer. The City of Tempe Council votes 4-3 to proceed with using existing transit funds to construct 5 miles of light rail within the city limits as a partnership with the Central Phoenix-East Valley Light Rail Project.
- November: Scottsdale-Tempe High Capacity Corridor Study begins, looks at light rail alignments from Downtown Scottsdale via Scottsdale Road, Curry Rd/Town Lake then through Tempe/ASU then Rural Rd as far south as Southern Ave.
- November: City of Glendale asked residents to raise sales tax for street, intersection and transit improvements. The tax (Proposition 402) is approved by a margin of 64% Yes to 36% No. The tax was raised to 1.8 percent from 1.5 percent, equal to that of Phoenix and Tempe. The plan includes funding for street, roadway, bus transit and five miles of light rail to connect to the planned Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Project in the area near Spectrum (formerly Chris-Town) Mall.
- July: City of Phoenix introduces RAPID BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). RAPID is a new, more convenient express bus service, which features onboard passenger amenities as well as new buses. The service is limited to City of Phoenix routes only as it was originally approved by Phoenix voters in March 2000.
- Maricopa Association of Governments approves the 2006-2026 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). The plan was a two year process in which the transportation needs of Maricopa County were to be bundled for an extension and continuation of the original 1985 transportation sales tax. This new tax extension would be presented to voters on the November 2004 ballot. The City of Scottsdale declines to include the Tempe-Scottsdale light rail line in the RTP. The RTP includes a local $8.5 billion match toward the federal contribution for Maricopa county’s $15.8 billion road and transit improvement plan. Earmarked are $9 billion for freeways, $2.7 billion for expanded bus service, $2.3 billion for 27-miles of additional trackage for the already funded 20-mile light-rail system under construction in Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Glendale, $1.5 billion for arterial streets, and $1.3 billion for bike and pedestrian paths, and local planning and air quality programs and approximately $5 million in study funding for regional commuter studies.
- Fall – First official Light Rail-oriented groundbreaking for the “48th Street Bridge” near the future Maintenance and Servicing Facility(MSF).
- High Capacity Feasibility Study funded by the Maricopa Association of Governments identifies several candidate corridors for future commuter rail services in the Valley.Â Communities in the greater Phoenix area and adjacent Pinal County begin including “commuter rail” in future transportation plans.
- The Yellow Line is replaced by the Grand Avenue Limited, as Grand Avenue (U.S. Route 60) is largely upgraded to a limited-access roadway.
- “METRO” is the new name for Valley Metro Rail’s Light Rail Project after being chosen in a public contest. The twenty mile METRO light rail which connects Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, Arizona scheduled to open in late 2008.
- Town of Gilbert opens their new ‘railroad themed’ Gilbert Park & Ride near downtown. The Park & Ride is modeled after Gilbert’s original Southern Pacific Railroad passenger depot (torn down in 1964) and is specifically designed to provide Express bus and local bus connections with ‘future commuter rail’, as it is located adjacent to the Union Pacific Railroad ‘Phoenix-Coolidge-Tucson’ mainline.
- November 2: Maricopa County voters approve Proposition400 (Regional Transportation Plan), a 20-year extension of the existing transportation sales tax. The initiative is approved by margin of 58% YES to 42% NO.
- The RTP includes a local $8.5 billion match toward the federal contribution for Maricopa county’s $15.8 billion road and transit improvement plan. Earmarked are $9 billion for freeways, $2.7 billion for expanded bus service, $2.3 billion for 27-miles of additional trackage for the already funded 20-mile light-rail system under construction in Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Glendale, $1.5 billion for arterial streets, and $1.3 billion for bike and pedestrian paths, and local planning and air quality programs and approximately $5 million in study funding for regional commuter studies.
- February 15: Groundbreaking of the METRO light rail system is held at Tempe Town Lake Beach Park. Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Glendale dignitaries and hundreds of attendees participate in ‘throwing the switch’ to light up a scale mock-up of a section of the future Town Lake LRT Bridge. Participants also enclose memorabilia, messages and other well-wishes in a ‘Time Capsule’ container to be opened on February 15, 2025.
- August: City of Surprise City Council issues a resolution supporting the creation of a regional commuter rail system utilizing the BNSF and UPRR railroad lines within the Phoenix metropolitan area. City of Youngtown begins public push for commuter rail in Northwest Valley.
- September 13: City of Peoria residents approved by 68% a measure to raise sales tax 0.3% for street, intersection and increase the number of Valley Metro fixed route bus lines that serve Peoria and to improve and maintain the city’s Dial-a-Ride service. The Proposition 300 tax would raise to 1.8 percent from 1.5 percent, equal to that of Glendale, Phoenix and Tempe.
- September 19: Valley Metro Rail officials are exploring four new routes for the Metro system that could take it to Scottsdale, south Phoenix and the West Valley stadiums. These segments would be in addition to the 57 miles already approved and under construction. The study would cost $1.3 million to $3 million. Funding for these lines would come from new, yet-to-be-identified sources as these are new lines which were NOT included in the Proposition 400/Regional Transportation Plan approved by voters in November 2004.
- A line connecting Scottsdale and Tempe via Rural Road and Scottsdale Road. This line would link the new ASU Scottsdale Center for New Technology and Innovation at Scottsdale/McDowell Rd, then south via Scottsdale Rd, over Tempe Town Lake, through and ASU Tempe and then south on Rural Road to the Pyle Center at Southern Ave.
- A line south along Central Avenue, from the original segment in downtown Phoenix, past the Ed Pastor Transit Center at Broadway Road, to about Baseline Road.
- A line to the Arizona Cardinals and Phoenix Coyotes stadiums in Glendale. This could take two paths: through a proposed light-rail line in downtown Glendale, or from a proposed light-rail line on I-10 / Loop 101.
- A line to ASU West in northwest Phoenix, from the currently planned Year 2012 terminus at approximately I-17 and Metrocenter.
- November and December: Prototype Light Rail VehicleÂ displayed in Phoenix, in Mesa, and in Tempe. The display consists of one end unit (of the two on a full train) and the center articulation section; interior is complete, but unit is without wheels or propulsion.
- July: Tempe Town Lake Light Rail Bridge structural work completed.
- December: Light Rail Maintenance Yard east of Sky Harbor Airport is operational, in time for delivery of first rail vehicle.
- December 28: Light Rail trains begin operation.