[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic, July 6, 2008] — If Phoenix wants its downtown nightlife to thrive, buses need to stay on the street long after sundown, several business owners say. Bill Smith, who owns Bar Smith and other local restaurants, is a member of an alliance of bar, restaurant, hotel, and nightclub owners working on a couple of ideas to improve nighttime transit downtown. For one, the group wants to talk to Valley Metro about light-rail hours. Based on the latest schedule for the future transit line, light rail will operate from 4:40 a.m. to 11 p.m. Valley Metro spokeswoman Hillary Foose said officials have not yet met with the business group.
Smith said another idea is to offer discount parking at a garage where people could hop onto a free shuttle to get to nighttime events. Smith said parking costs are going up, too. The situation has been complicated by construction for CityScape, a project that took over a parking lot once used by many customers of the Washington Street bars and eateries.
Nighttime transit became an issue last month after the City Council changed the Downtown Area Shuttle, the DASH. Starting July 28, the bus will have two routes. The “government loop” is similar to the existing route, running between downtown Phoenix and the state Capitol. The “downtown loop” would go between schools, hotels, the biomedical campus, and some neighborhood destinations. City Manager Frank Fairbanks said officials will have to figure out how routes could be changed.