Metro Phoenix light rail opening: What went right

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — Metro officials were pleased with the way things went on the first day of passenger service.  With an estimated 90,000 people climbing aboard the trains, the day went off without major glitches.  Here are a few things that went particularly well.

Shuttle buses. The only thing worse than waiting 2 1/2 hours for a train would be waiting 2 1/2 hours for the return trip.  Metro’s shuttle buses, both the local and express versions, took the hassle out of the trip back home.

Safety campaign. No doubt there will be accidents.  But after four months of regular testing and a full day of passenger service, no one has been injured and just one accident has been reported.  Drivers, pedestrians, and train operators should all take a bow.

Rider enthusiasm. In other cities, they listen to iPods or feign sleep to avoid talking to fellow passengers.  On Day 1 , Metro riders chatted enthusiastically for their entire trips, striking up conversations with strangers.

Boosting businesses. If you walked around downtown Phoenix on Saturday, you saw something unusual: people.  Thanks to light rail, bars and restaurants that are nearly empty on many weekends were buzzing with people.

Good behavior. Inviting 90,000 people to a party that takes place over 20 miles can be a logistical nightmare.  The good news for event planners was that Valley residents largely behaved themselves, waiting to board trains without pushing or shoving when trains rolled into the stations.  No arrests were reported by Saturday evening, leaving the dozens of police along the line to chat amiably with riders.

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