TEMPE, AZ — It was a big day for the city of Tempe on Friday, finally cutting the ribbon on the long-awaited Tempe streetcar.
The morning began with remarks from Tempe Mayor Corey Woods and Valley Metro staff. The Tempe City Council, former mayors and city dignitaries were all in attendance.
After a brief inauguration ceremony, the trams were opened to the public.
“I think that’s great!” said rider and Tempe resident Jodee Siff “Wonderful!” added her husband, Barry Siff. “We were expecting today,” he said.
“That’s why we’re rolling today, to see where it’s going. We know it’s going to Whole Foods, which is good,” Siff said with a thumbs up.
The Tempe streetcar service was slow to come, officially approved by voters in 2004.
According to Valley Metro, there are currently four streetcars in operation, with two more to come.
The winter start date was delayed by COVID and the cars fell behind schedule due to supply chain issues.
“It’s nice and cool inside, it’s a great place to be in the summer,” said pilot Tim McKinstry with a laugh.
According to Valley Metro, there are three miles of track and 14 station stops, with artwork along the way.
The trams are hybrids, which can easily switch to battery power.
First runners Friday were treated to commemorative buttons and other cool loot. It was a welcome reward for the residents who had to deal with all the dust.
“Oh yeah, for a few years,” said pilot Demetri Papakosts of Tempe.
“There was a lot of it, so it’s good to do it and clean it up,” said runner Samantha Brozak. Riding comfortably now, Brozak said she looks forward to the convenience.
“Definitely to get to campus. I’m a student, so it’s nice to be in the air conditioning and not walk around in the heat,” she said.
The total cost of the tram project was $200 million.
Valley Metro broke down the funding numbers:
$103 million in federal funds ($17.4 million from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, $75 million from the Federal Capital Investment Grant, $11 million from the Congestion Mitigation Program and improvement of air quality)
$75 million from regional Prop funds. 400
$13 million from an unprecedented public/private partnership that includes the City of Tempe, Arizona State University and more than a dozen major employers and landowners along the route.
Despite some delays on the first day, tram passengers said the ride went smoothly.
“It was so awesome! It passes right by my house and I don’t have to walk in that scorching heat,” said Tempe resident Erica Johnson.
” I appreciated ! I’m so glad we have public transportation in Arizona! said Errin Khav.
Learn more about the streetcar at valleymetro.org/streetcar.