Valley Metro Reports First Light Rail Ridership Decline

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, January 28, 2019 - 8:55am
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2019 - 12:18pm

19th Avenue light rail line
Christina Estes/KJZZ
The 19th Avenue light rail line near Bethany Home Road in Phoenix.

For the first time in its history, Valley Metro says the light rail system is seeing a drop in ridership. Concerns about safety and security appear to be driving the decline.

“We have been operational for 10 years and have had a lot of ridership success,” said Hillary Foose with Valley Metro. “But we are starting to see a decline and, really, based on our customer complaints, this seems to be a concern.”

She said customers want to see more police officers. During a recent presentation to Phoenix’s transportation subcommittee, Foose said they will consider adding more officers. She said Valley Metro is also working a new way to increase staff presence: light rail ambassadors to help passengers and support cleanliness and maintenance.

“When it’s not clean, it’s a perception challenge and obviously when it is clean it’s a perception builder,” she said. “But ultimately to be that kind of very active engagement to deter that disrespectful behavior before it actually gets on the train.”

When comparing data between September-November 2017 and September-November 2018, Valley Metro says the number of total incidents declined.

And the three platforms with the most problems have shifted — in 2017 they were all along 19th Avenue in Phoenix at Dunlap, Camelback and Glendale. Last year, the top three platforms for incidents were 19th Avenue and Dunlap in Phoenix and two location in Mesa: Alma School and Main and Country Club and Main.

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