October 21, 2016
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Phoenix Prepares for Bus Service Expansion

As Passenger Transport went to press, Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix were preparing for the Oct. 24 expansion of service on all bus routes and Dial-a-Ride paratransit in the city.

Funding for the expanded service—additional hours on the road each day and frequencies of 30 minutes or less—comes from Transportation 2050 (T2050), a tax approved by Phoenix voters in 2015 to improve public transit and streets, support increased ­security on buses and light rail and build 1,080 miles of new bicycle lanes.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Valley Metro officials and other guests planned to participate in rider appreciation events at seven transit centers during the morning rush hour Oct. 24, followed by a media event at Central Station.

Earlier this year when the Phoenix City Council approved the service expansion, Stanton said, “We heard loud and clear from Phoenix residents that they want the option to catch a bus later in the evening just as they do with light rail, and they want more frequent service to reduce wait times at bus stops. Providing more options for working families and residents is what our long-term transportation plan is all about, and that’s what we are going to deliver.”

Under the change, buses will begin weekday service an hour earlier and continue an hour later, and on weekends service will start an hour earlier and continue two hours later.

The next expansion in April 2017 will standardize service hours for bus, light rail and Dial-a-Ride operations.

Valley Metro Breaks Ground
In other news, local officials recently marked the start of construction on the Gilbert Road light rail extension, due to enter service in late 2018 or early 2019, to extend the existing 3.1-mile route to Mesa by 1.9 miles.

Valley Metro Interim Chief Executive Officer Scott Smith called the extension “the East Valley’s gateway to countless connections in Mesa, Phoenix and Tempe,” adding, “Expanding regional travel options is important for future riders and has proven itself as a catalyst for strong economic activity.”

The construction contractor, Stacy and Witbeck/Sundt, also constructed Valley Metro’s Northwest Extension in Phoenix, which opened earlier this year, and a portion of the original 20 miles of light rail that opened in 2008. Federal and local funding will cover costs for the $152.7 million project.

Mesa Mayor John Giles, left; Valley Metro Interim CEO Scott Smith, fourth from right; and area and agency officials commemorated breaking ground for Valley Metro’s Gilbert Road light rail extension.

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