Jul 7, 2022 - News

Tempe's streetcar gives more than 24,000 rides in first month

A streetcar on a  city street.
Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios

People rode the Tempe Streetcar almost 24,000 times in its first month after opening May 20, according to automatic passenger counters in the streetcar doorways.

  • It's the first modern streetcar line in metro Phoenix and travels on Mill and Ash avenues from Rio Salado Parkway and Marina Heights to Dorsey Lane and Apache Boulevard

Why it matters: The Tempe Streetcar, which was supposed to open last year but was delayed because of the pandemic and supply chain issues, is the newest public transit option in the Valley.

Details: Streetcar vehicles — which hold about 125 people— are smaller than light rail trains and travel slower.

  • The streetcar stops are closer together than light-rail stations, with 14 over three miles.
  • The streetcar line also connects to two existing Valley Metro light-rail stations.

By the numbers: The average weekday ridership during the first month was 767.

  • Saturday average: 910
  • Sunday average: 647

Of note: The streetcar is free during its first year and then will be about $1 per ride, Valley Metro spokesperson Madeline Phipps tells Axios.

What she's saying: Valley Metro is pleased with the first month's boarding numbers, especially since summer is not peak season, Phipps said

  • "Later this summer, early this fall, which is high season for the area, we're really excited to see what the streetcar does and how it can serve people in the area."

What's next: Valley Metro is looking at possible extensions, including bringing the streetcar into Mesa, connecting to the city's Asian District, Mesa Community College and the former Fiesta Mall.

Mesa Mayor John Giles tells Axios he's "very excited" about the streetcar coming to Mesa.

Yes, but: Future extensions would depend on funding, most notably the continuation of a half-cent regional transportation tax that voters will have to approve before it expires in 2025.

  • Gov. Doug Ducey vetoed a bill Wednesday that would have allowed Maricopa County voters to decide on the extension next year.

Jessica here: I rode the streetcar for the first time Wednesday and found it convenient and easy to navigate.

  • It took me about 15 minutes to get from the park-and-ride at Apache Boulevard and Dorsey Lane to Hayden Ferry and Rio Salado Parkway, about 2.5 miles.
  • I look forward to using it to get between Mill Avenue restaurants and Gammage Auditorium before and after shows.
The inside of a streetcar.
Photo: Jessica Boehm/Axios
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