Marchetta explained that when the NBA All-Stars was coming to the venue in 2009 there were a lot of meetings planning for the event and that’s where the idea originated. “We worked with the idea of basically reimbursing Valley Metro based on what our drop count is and by drop count I mean actual attendance.” He said, “We came up with a number that I think everybody was comfortable with.
“The popularity of the program has been amazing. People love it.” He added “Why some of our colleagues don’t do some kind of the same program, I don’t get.”
Not only has there been a great response from their customers, Marchetta said it’s been a huge benefit to their program when marketing the venue. He said, “When we’re talking to artists, when we’re talking to Jimmy Buffet or a background band, I’m always pushing about this. We’re in a super competitive market so there are tons of options out there so I talk about centrally located, downtown Phoenix and this light rail program. That’s a huge benefit.”
To read details about the arrangement, visit www.MassTransitmag.com/1096423.
Light Rail in the Valley
When it comes to light rail, one of the biggest challenges they have in the Valley is that they can’t build it fast enough. There are two projects currently under construction in north-central Phoenix and in Mesa. “We’ve got plans to even extend further on both ends of the line,” Banta said.
Valley Metro Assistant Superintendent John Philippi explained Kinkisharyo had a 2-year build contract and then a 2-year maintenance contract. After that time, Valley Metro Rail took over. He and a number of the other employees out of the Metro Operations and Maintenance Center had previously been employed by Kinkisharyo. Currently the maintenance is done in-house and as of 2006, operations is contracted out to Alternate Concepts Inc. (ACI).
Underway is a 2-mile extension through Mesa and city of Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said he sees the option of light rail creates a lot of economic opportunities. The city even repurposed federal highway monies to do the extension.
“I think it was in President Reagan’s years that they allowed trade-offs,” he said. “We had a lot more in street funds than we had allocated for the cost of the 2-mile extension.” Due to changes in development patterns, there was an overpass that was no longer needed and he said they saw it as a waste of money. “We got widespread support, people understood the approach and we were able to do that.”
They faced the typical opposition prior to light rail: it’ll never be successful, we don’t have the density, it’s not our lifestyle. Smith stressed in every great metro area, you need transportation options. And, the city is already growing due to the light rail coming.
“We have four liberal arts colleges from around the country that are setting up campuses in downtown Mesa,” he said. “Every single one of them said without light rail, we’re not coming to downtown Mesa.” He also mentioned the Barry & Peggy Goldwater Library and Archives is going to be built in downtown Mesa and the reasons were that there were four colleges coming in and there was light rail coming in. Smith also said the last private investment in resident stock had been an apartment complex built almost 30 years ago and that in the last 10 months, there are four projects going in that are in excess of $50 million, purely because of light rail. “These are things that would not have happened.”
To read more from Mayor Smith about how they were able to fund this extension, visit www.MassTransitmag.com/10965028.
Opening earlier this year was the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Sky Train, a 24/7 connection from terminal four at the airport to Valley Metro’s 44th Street/Washington light rail station. Though not a part of Valley Metro, they have an agreement with the city of Phoenix to market the service.
Jim Spakauskas, director of sales and business development with Bombardier Transportation Systems Divisions explained their role of designing, manufacturing, supplying and installing the fully automated driverless vehicles. There was a total of 18 vehicles delivered with the system and Spakauskas said they also signed a 10-year operations and maintenance contract with the city.