Extended hours sought for Phoenix light rail

[Source: Mike Branom, East Valley Tribune] — When discussing with others the advent of light rail in the Valley, more than once I heard in its favor, “Now I can go drink at Diamondbacks games.”  (Seven bucks for a large draft beer?  Go nuts.)  But Mesa resident Ron Hahn points out a problem with the concept of Metro as designated driver: While bars close at 2 a.m., light rail will stop running two hours before.  “It just doesn’t make sense,” Hahn said.

Thinking about it, Hahn has a point.  All this time, we’ve heard from boosters about how light rail will get cars off the roads during the morning and evening commutes.  But what about the cars heading home from the bars?  Don’t we want them off the streets, too?  “We spend all this money on DUI roadblocks and enforcement,” Hahn said.  “And then when there’s a solution in front of us, they don’t want to do it.”  Metro, after beginning service in December, plans to operate more than 19 hours a day, from 4:40 a.m. until midnight.  Hahn, who voted for the project back in 2000, had hoped it would run 24/7.  

Hahn isn’t alone in the hope of extended hours, at least on the weekends.  A Phoenix organization called the Downtown Voices Coalition recently appealed to the City Council for extended hours.  Among the reasons were the transportation needs of bar and restaurant workers, and how late-night activity is “the measure of a city’s vitality and growth.”  I put a call into Metro on Friday afternoon but never heard back.  When they respond, you’ll hear about it.

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