Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Valley METRO light rail fits needs of many

Multimedia package by Donna Fishel, Sarah Geyer and Jodie Schommer

The June heat is a real issue in Phoenix.

As the thermometer reaches 112 degrees, residents seek ways to keep cool. One such way is to use the light rail system instead of walking.

For some, it’s a straight line to relaxation on the weekend.

“I use the light rail on a Sunday to combat boredom to get a change of scenery,” Aaron said.

“I wish the rail system went farther out, like north just to see things,” he continued.

For others, it’s a beeline from home to work.

Daniel, another METRO rider, uses the light rail because he can depend on the regularity of arrival and departures. He said that the air conditioning always works on the rail. On the busses people can literally feel the heat coming off of the others due to overcrowding. The wait between bus arrivals can be stifling.

“You don’t want to sit out in the heat if you miss the bus. You wait a half an hour for the next one,” said Daniel as he was going southbound on his way home after work.

For still others, it’s a lifeline.

Some people cannot be out in the heat. Health conditions of some people, especially those with a life threatening illness, often dictates that they get only minimal heat exposure. They need convenient access to a mode of transportation to get them to regular medical visits. The timing between trains is dependable and route convenient to hospitals, physicians’ offices and pharmacies.

“We looked for an apartment to rent near the light rail. We need to get to a lot of doctor’s appointments,” said Robert, a regular user of the light rail. “We can’t be in the heat that much, so we live nearby.”

Especially during the heat of the summer, the light rail is a popular, efficient and convenient mode of transportation in Phoenix.

Phoenix's temperature-controlled light rail system includes 28 stops and covers 20 miles. (Photo by Jodie Schommer)

People use the light rail to get out of Phoenix's sweltering heat. (Photo by Jodie Schommer)

Robert, who is living with AIDS, depends on the light rail from air conditioned transportation to and from doctor appointments. (Photo by Jodie Schommer)

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