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New Tempe streetcar to welcome passengers for free for entire first year

The streetcar will hit 14 stops on its three-mile route throughout Tempe.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The City of Tempe is set to open its new streetcar line on May 20. Riders can hop on and off the city's streetcar for free, for the entire first year it's opened.

Valley Metro said it’s the first modern streetcar line in the greater Phoenix-area. The agency has been testing them around the city lately. The streetcar will hit 14 stops on its three-mile route. It’ll run on Mill and Ash from Rio Salado Parkway and Marina Heights to Dorsey Lane and Apache Boulevard.

The cars can hold 125 people and arrive at stops every 15 to 20 minutes. Tempe Mayor Corey Woods said the streetcar is different from the light rail in a few different ways, like how it shares the road with vehicle traffic.

“The streetcar is definitely smaller and a more intimate experience and with fewer passengers," Woods said. "At the same time, there are more frequent stops along the streetcar line. So it’s really more of a local experience.”

Valley Metro said the streetcar project started construction in 2018 and is the first modern streetcar line in the greater Phoenix-area. The streetcar runs off-wire and is hybrid battery-powered. Valley Metro added the streetcar setup helps preserve trees in the Downtown Tempe area.

The ride is ADA and bike accessible. There are 14 covered stops that are decorated with public art. The routes will hit Tempe’s ASU campus, downtown, Gammage, Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe Beach park and more. 

Tempe is already talking about expanding the streetcar service. Future routes could include stops at Tempe Marketplace, Mesa Community College, Sloan Park, Mesa Riverview and Mesa’s Asian District.

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