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December 31st, 2008
THE DIG
Pheonix debuts first light rail system

On Saturday, December 27, Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa, Arizona welcomed passengers aboard their brand-new light rail system. The 20-mile, $1.4 billion dollar rail system is a first for the state; until now, Phoenix had been the largest U.S. city without public trains. The public reaction to the Light Rail was overwhelmingly positive. Riders from across the Valley waited at the line’s 28 stops to test out the new trains, and many of the rail stops held street-fair like parties. Valley Metro, the transit organization that runs the Phoenix Light Rail, is letting riders ride for free until January 1st. The challenge for Phoenix will be convincing car-dependent residents to commute using mass transit, especially once full fare rides go into effect. The success of the light rail could potentially influence other Arizona and southwest cities to embrace similar public transit systems.

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