Phoenix Areas New Light Rail System: Great for Commuters

By: Melissa O'Connell

Homeowners from Mesa to north Phoenix who are looking to get away from the stress of traffic congestion and polluted highways on their daily commutes to work are in luck. Very soon Phoenix Metro residents will be able to take advantage of the area's new Light Rail System. This could do great things for the real estate market in the smaller communities of Tempe and Mesa, as city dwellers realizing they have an easier commute consider moving into the smaller communities on the outskirts of Phoenix. Further, Phoenix itself will benefit from development along the railway.

Powered by electricity from overhead wires, similar to the old street-cars of San Fransisco The very quiet system will run at street level alongside the rest of traffic, and at about the same speed as regular street traffic. Because of its direct route, though, it will be faster than local busses.

The rail cars will be able to carry about 200 passengers each, and up to three cars at a time can be attached, meaning up to 600 passengers could travel on one run. Amazingly, the goal of the system is to carry up to 15,000 people per hour. Hopefully this will mean a significant reduction in traffic congestion, and the resulting air pollution. If the Phoenix metro area becomes cleaner and quieter, that's good news for the real estate market indeed.

The anticipated system has encouraged developers and investors to take a second look at the properties along the 20 mile railway. The city has been faced with dozens of permit and rezoning applications along the route. It looks like the types of developments that are going up are mixed-use, typically lofts or town homes with restaurants and shopping underneath.

At Spectrum Mall, where an almost 800 space park-and-ride lot will attract a lot of extra traffic to the area, developments are getting more and more upscale. Meanwhile business parks are sprouting up along the route as an easy commute to work means incentive for workers. The surprising thing about all of this is that the development started well before construction of the actual rail system even began. That's good news, because it means investors are confident in the system. But it isn't without risk.

It is possible that ridership will be lower than anticipated, meaning less traffic to all those new businesses. However, even if this is the case at first, chances are the rail system will take off, making it all worth while in the end.

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