Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Welcome to Rail Life!

We are moving! I am excited and proud to say that we are now the "official blog of RailLife.com!" If you currently link to us, please update your link to point to RailLife.com/blog and don't forget to subscribe to our feed! We are in the process of transferring these posts and info. Soon, I will be blogging on the new platform and not here very much. I hope you will join me!
As one of the co-founders of Rail Life LLC., I am very proud to finally announce that we are getting close to launching our web site. Since 2006, Rail Life LLC has been preparing to bring you the most complete resource for life surrounding the upcoming light rail line in Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. It is our goal to assist business owners, commuters, sports fans, convention goers, property owners, students, art lovers, vacationers and YOU in learning more about light rail and the areas and venues surrounding the line. Currently, we are in the early stages of rolling out an amazing resource for all to enjoy. In the next few months, we will be coming out of the testing and beta phases of our site and will become a great asset to everyone that lives, works or plays in the areas surrounding light rail.

At RailLife.com, we realize that "Your Life, is on the Line!"

Rock n Rail Wednesday

See the enclosed information about tomorrows festivities! I hope you can make it out to support the Light Rail progress. Sounds like fun and you might even win some cool prizes! Sorry for the poor quality of this pic.. (if you click the picture, it should give you a clear copy) Let me know if you would like me to email to you. Metro's number listed for more info is 602-322-4427. They can give ya the scoop!

Monday, January 28, 2008

AZ Light Rail - A "number's game?"

Today's paper had another large article about the Phoenix Light Rail Project. Kind of a, light at the end of the tunnel / homestretch thing. Near the end of the article, it mentions:

"As part of its grant agreement with the federal government, Metro promised at least 26,000 boardings a day for the first year of operation. To meet that target, Metro is planning a series of marketing events along the line this year. As the agency prepares to begin testing in each line segment, light-rail officials plan to hold "milestone events" to let people tour the vehicles."

I have heard a little bit about some planned events but not a whole lot. I do know that the first weekend is going to be free to ride and some events with music, media and probably hot dogs/apple pie will be thrown in for good measure. Granted, it's early and they have time to get the word out but I recently read some information about the new rail line in Charlotte, North Carolina that I thought was interesting. According to Debe, a blogger in Charlotte, Ridership for the first month of their system was approximately 9000 passenger trips per day. Now, if you consider that at roughly 1/2 the size of their system in comparison with the Arizona Light Rail system, it could be a little thin for Metro.
I'm sure the business owners along the route hope the 26,000 number will be easily matched and I look forward to not only watching the numbers roll in come December but participating in the parties. :-)

Friday, January 25, 2008

ASU and Phoenix Light Rail

A couple of months ago, I wrote about how Light Rail should be a great asset to ASU students. Today, as a follow up, I was downtown and took some photos of the area near some of the campus buildings. The stop at Central and Van Buren, has a sign that says, "ASU Phoenix campus." (see pic below) Also shown below is a pic in front of the ASU Nursing school building which is just North/East of the rail stop. The amount of construction in this area is amazing and downtown is growing like crazy.
Today's trip reminded me of a conversation I had with Ron at Metro about the early adapters of the rail project. We discussed the fact that this should be very useful for students that want to get back and forth between the Phoenix and Tempe campuses. We also talked about the fact that students would probably be very willing to be some of the early adapters and ride the line on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, my friend Samuel ( Deserted After Dark blog ) and I agree that rail will be beneficial. Maybe I can get him and some of his friends like Candi and Danielle and the rest of the "StAR" crew to give us some insight. :-)
I hope you like the pics.. For next week, I'm going to check out some of the cool stuff going on around the Tempe campus..

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

11 Breaks Found in New Light Rail Line

I was surprised to see the story today about the 11 breaks in the Light Rail Line. The blog on the az central site had more than a few comments about the story, most of which are (of course) pretty critical of the entire system. Mayor Gordon "guarantees" that we will have "the safest system in the nation."
Some things that came to my mind were.. Are line breaks common in other cities with light rail? Would a 6" to 7" break in a line be enough to cause a huge safety problem? If/when this type of thing happens once the system is operational, how long would it take to fix?
Just last week I mentioned how impressed I was with the entire system. The test track we rode on was exceptionally smooth and felt very safe. I firmly believe they will figure this out but I'll sure try to find some more information and get some answers..

Monday, January 14, 2008

Light Rail and Dry Cleaner's..

The new Arizona Light Rail project is is being written about more and more by the papers. It's probably not surprising that I seem to read a lot of these articles. During the past few days, I read about "walkable corridors" near Light Rail that Phoenix and Tempe are embracing. One opening paragraph of "In five years or so, light-rail commuters may be able to drop off their dry cleaning, pick up groceries and grab a cup of coffee at a train station near Apache Boulevard and Dorsey Lane in Tempe." is a good opening paragraph to an article discussing some of the future benefits and challenges of the rail system. Issues that are discussed range from the billions of dollars of current and proposed development near the stations, the walk ability factor in relation to a 5-10 minute walk from a station, meshing commercial and residential areas etc.

The chairman of the Tempe Transportation Commission says that he's toured light-rail systems in Denver, San Diego and Portland to see what kind of businesses work best around light-rail stations. They include dry cleaners, florists, shoe-repair shops and coffee shops.

Tempe's deputy public works manager would like to encourage more pedestrians around light rail stations but is quoted as saying "No car washes, auto-related uses are restricted, no drive-throughs, no (plant) nurseries." Instead, the city is encouraging the building of dry cleaners, coffee shops, retail stores, day-care centers, bookstores, and service-oriented businesses.

The entrepreneur in me says we better all go out and find a great spot for a dry cleaning business near a rail stop. The demand will certainly be there! :-)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Phoenix Light Rail Cars - 10 things I remember

As a follow up to my tour of the Rail Facility this week, here are a few things I remember.. OK, so these are some "facts" as I remember them, as I was told or as I have read.

1. Arizona Light Rail cars will be among the most technologically advanced in the world.

2. 16 cameras on each train. ie: security, monitors etc.

3. Cars are 90 feet long, 12 feet high, 8.5 feet wide.

4. No-step boarding. This is really cool. Un-like most other systems where the "working parts" are underneath the train, these trains have a lot of the parts on the roof! This allows for a street height entrance/exit that is controlled by air pressure regulating the height.

5. Seats are Kevlar and will be able to withstand much of the low life's attempts at vandalism.

6. GPS units monitor where the trains are at any given time.

7. There are four wheelchair positions and four bike racks on each car.

8. Three vehicles can be linked together. (usually for special events etc.)

9.Seats that are in the front and rear, located above the "wheels," do not face forward. Instead, they face the inside of the car. This helps the above mentioned "low life's" think twice before attempting to take someones belongings on their way out. ie: If a person is facing "forward" with their back to the doors, they might not notice someone attempting to take their bag on the way off of the train. (interesting concept)

10.The light rail cars are assembled in "pieces” so they won’t be down for maintenance. ie: a part goes out, it goes in to the facility where the piece OR an entire section of car is removed, a new one is slapped on and they will be on their way. They are saying we will have very little “down time.” I thought this was really cool to see..

These Light Rail trains, at first glance, did not seem any different to me than any I had seen before. After looking closer and talking to some of the people that work with and on the trains, I was pretty impressed.