People have asked me how to take the Valley Metro light rail in the Phoenix area, so I made a video guide.
However, if you prefer tips in written form, read on!
1. Find where to go.
There’s just one line with 2 directions, Eastbound and Westbound. You can ride anywhere on the line all day for $4.
Westbound train route:
- begins in downtown Mesa (Mesa Dr./Main St.)
- ASU Tempe campus
- Sky Harbor Airport
- Downtown Phoenix (Phoenix Convention Center, Talking Stick Resort Arena, Chase Field)
- Central Ave. (turns north)
- Roosevelt Row/arts district
- ends at 19th Ave. and Dunlap (near Metrocenter)
Eastbound trains start at 19th Avenue and Dunlap, retracing basically the same route, heading south and then east and ending at Mesa Drive and Main Street.
To find where to get on and off the train and get schedule information, pick up a Transit Book, check the Valley Metro website, download the Ridekick app, or try Google Maps. If you don’t want to bother with the schedule, you can just show up. Trains run about every 10-20 minutes until around 1am.
If there’s not a stop near you, you can drive to one of the 11 Park-and-Ride lots, where there’s free parking for people riding the light rail or bus. You just find a spot, lock your car, and head to the station platform.
2. Get your ticket.
You can easily get a pass from a fare vending machine at your stop before you leave.
Follow the prompts on screen to select an all-day pass and activate it immediately. Then pay with cash, credit or debit.
Your pass and receipt print from two different places. Make sure to pick them both up!
On the Station Platform
While you’re waiting, check the signs to make sure in the right spot for the train going in your direction.
- fare vending machines
- scrolling LED signs that say when to expect the next train
- some shade
- route maps (simplified to highlight the stops – not to scale)
- drinking fountains
- artwork inspired by the local area
Stations don’t have…
- food or anything for purchase (except rail passes)
You can bring your own beverage with a lid on it.
3. Get on board.
Trains stop at every station. You don’t have to flag them down. If one looks like it’s not stopping, Don’t panic! It’s probably just pulling up farther.
When the train pulls up to the station, it will come to a complete stop, the doors automatically open, and you can step into any car. Find a seat or or a place to stand and hold on to the railing. If you are standing, try to move back away from the doors, so people can easily get on and off.
There’s usually not anyone checking tickets as you get on. It’s kind of on the honor system. Occasionally, though, transit officers in black and white uniforms will come through and check tickets after the train is in motion. Not having one can get you fined up to $500.
Watch and listen for your stop. You can find a route map above some of the doors. And before each stop, a recording will say “approaching station” then the station name and whether you’ll exit the train on the left or right side. The information is also on scrolling LED signs in the middle of the ceiling of each car. Once you arrive, wait for the train to stop and doors to open, and you’re there!
– More light rail info –
- Fare details.
- Make sure you are waiting for the train going the direction you want to go. Most of the platforms are in the middle of the street and trains going both directions share them. However, around downtown Phoenix the line splits. So if you’re at the Phoenix Convention Center for example, the station for westbound trains is at Washington and eastbound trains stop a block south of there at Jefferson.
- If you’re only going one way (to the airport, for example), you can purchase a 1-ride ticket. Once you purchase it, take your ticket and receipt. You have a two-hour window after purchasing to make your trip in one direction.
- You may notice that there’s a “buy online” option on the Valley Metro website. This is NOT for last-minute purchases! Since electronic tickets are not accepted, you can order tickets online, and then they’ll be shipped to you via snail mail.