While the economy has taken a substantial hit this past year, one consistent financial problem remains the same: many college students just don’t seem to have enough money to afford the high costs of vehicle insurance and fluctuating gas prices as they try to find ways to get around town.
Now, with unveiling of the new Valley Metro Light Rail, stranded college commuters may have found an answer.
With many students currently enrolled in majors that require them to attend classes at Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus, the question of how to get there can pose quite a predicament for students who lack their own transportation.
That’s when the new light rail comes into the equation.
Corona del Sol graduate and now ASU freshman Sammy Lloyd uses light rail to travel to her classes at the downtown Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.
“I wanted to take light rail because it is a lot faster and easier than driving downtown in rush hour,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd also notes the other positives that accompany using light rail, such as free transportation for ASU students and the easy accessibility of the cars.
“I like the simplicity of it, being able to get on and off easily and not having to worry about a schedule as you do with buses,” Lloyd said.
“Every once in a while there are disruptive people that get on, but the ticket officers try to regulate it.”
Another ASU student frequenting the light rail is sophomore Hilary Pendleton, who uses light rail every weekday to attend various classes.
“I started taking it to school because the parking prices at ASU were too high for me to afford,” Pendleton said.
“I live really close to campus but too far to walk, so light rail seemed like the most convenient option, especially since it is free to ride for ASU students.”
Marc Soronson, who was manager of corridor planning for construction of the project, said an extraordinary amount of advance planning seems to have paid off.
“Response to light rail in general has exceeded expectations,” he said.
“Based on some of the preliminary ridership data, I would say that light rail is serving ASU exactly as expected.”
The service hasn’t been lost on other commuters either.
“Weekend ridership has been surprisingly strong, especially for social activities and entertainment,” Soronson said.
“We expected the ridership to be strong, but it has happened quick.”
Light rail has been an exceptional source of transportation for people looking to attend sports events such as Suns games in downtown Phoenix or for a way to travel to Sky Harbor Airport, according to observers.
“I used light rail to get to the airport after my downtown class,” journalism student Lloyd said. “It works out well because there is an airport shuttle at the light rail stop that takes you straight to each terminal.”
And in a society that is moving increasingly toward a shades of “green,” light rail provides another reason to not bother with the hassle of driving to your destination.
“I think light rail is very important for students and the general public,” said ASU-bound Pendleton.
“Public transportation will help cut pollution, as well as traffic, and it helps to save a bit on gas money.”
For more information on light rail you can go to http://www.tempe.gov/tim, where you’ll find schedules and locations of park-and-ride locations near light rail stops.
While transportation will always be an issue whether for work, school or play, the new light rail seems to be doing its part to improve our lives.