Phoenix at dusk (HDR)
Phoenix at Dawn, by flickr user robotography

I’ve been following the Phoenix Light Rail opening to try to predict what sort of reaction our own light rail system is going to have when it opens this summer. Arizona’s light rail is a bit different to Link – it’s entirely at-grade, for starters – but I think many of the lessons that Phoenix is learning we’re going to have to learn as well, for better or for worse. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to write a series of posts on Phoenix’s Metro Light Rail, and what we can expect from the first few months of Link, and the period after that. In this first post, I’m just going to talk about Phoenix and the Metro Light Rail.

Over the past few decades, the Phoenix Metropolitan Area has been one of the fastest growing in the country. Between 1990 to 2007, the area’s population grew by more than 80%, from about 2.2 million people to almost 4.2 million people. Despite the massive population growth, Phoenix remains the lowest-density big city in the country. The Metro area has a population density of about only 250 per square mile, and the city has a bit less than 3,000 per square mile. The Seattle, surrounded by low-density sprawl, has over 7,000 per square mile, and about 550 for our Metro Area, which has only three-quarters the population. Canonically sprawling Los Angeles maintains over 8,000 in the city and 2,600 in the greater Metro area. So in terms of sprawl, no one has Phoenix beat.

This image shows employment densities (top) and population densities (bottom) around Phoenix light rail stations. Sorry for the poor image quality, I took it from this blog, and apparently the author had to scan it from the print newspaper.


If you look, employment density is pretty large in downtown Phoenix, but it still comes no where close to what we have in Downtown Seattle, and even the most dense residential neighborhood on the line, in downtown Tempe, only approaches that of the Rainier Valley. I think this illustrates better than anything how low density Phoenix really is. Seattle is not an especially dense city, and the Rainier Valley is not an especially dense neighborhood in this city. But somehow that area is as dense as even the most dense parts of the area along the Phoenix LRT line.

Jefferson Street Light Rail Station
Jefferson Station, photo by flickr user Rail Life

A sprawling car-based city seems an unlikely place to build a successful rail line, but creating an option against sprawl was part of the motivation. In a lot of ways cities like Phoenix are the ones that need the most rail the soonest, since they are the least prepared for a reduction in driving caused by either congestion pricing or a shift away from fossil fuels. So after two decades of deliberation, in 2000 Phoenix residents passed a .4% sales tax increase, and the 20 mile line was built between Phoenix and Mesa by way of Tempe. The line has 27 at-grade stations, eight of which have park-and-rides. The $1.4 billion project opened in December, and enthusiasm has been huge.

The system uses cars made by Kinki Sharyo that are nearly identical to the cars Link will use. The main difference is the seat configuration: Link will have 74 seats per car, Metro Light Rail will have just 66. It’s odd that we have so many seats, with the trip so much shorter, while they have so few, since their route takes nearly an hour from end-to-end. That’s a lot of standing. There’s also room for eight bikes per car, compared to four for Link. Metro Valley Light Rail is also limited to three car trains, compared to Link’s four, so the system capacity is lower overall.

Phoenix Metro Light Rail in Motion
Ours look better, photo by flickr user phxwebguy

Transit oriented development is not something we are going to learn from Phoenix in the short, though it’s desperately need there. The line only just opened, and that in the middle of a massive housing slump. Over time Phoenix could be a place like Tyson’s Corner in Virginia or even Bellevue here where auto-centric low-density sprawl begins to give way to dense urbanization. It’s too early to tell, though Phoenix seems earnest about densifying along the line.

Since all Phoenix’s stations are at grade, we also won’t learn much about station design, though I am curious to see ridership reports for stations with and without park-and-rides. Phoenix has an average of 67 degrees in January, the coldest month of the year, so I don’t think we have a lot to learn about dealing with adverse weather or a summer rush. Low-density sprawl means lots of space for track, so we also won’t learn anything about how to build cheap transit either.  So what can we learn?

In the next post in this series, I’ll write about what Phoenix did right in promoting their opening, and how Sound Transit and the transit community can help make Link’s July opening a Really Big Deal™ and a source of civic pride. After that I’ll look at how Phoenix has dealt with the hiccups that every new – and old – transit system has to deal with. Lastly, I’ll look to other cities that have built light rail in the last quarter century, including Pittsburgh, San Jose/Silicon Valley, and Portland, and see where they have been successful and where they have failed weaving their systems into their region’s mental fabric, and what Seattle needs to do with the rail system after it opens.

64 Replies to “Phoenix Light Rail”

  1. My cousin lives in Phoenix and lives along the line. She tells me to make sure everyone knows Valley Metro cut its bus service to stop running after 9 PM when Metro Light Rail first opened (they used to run until 11 PM – 12 AM)

    Sound Transit: don’t even think about cutting back hours (I’d rather the bus come once an hour then kill off at 9 PM if we had to make tat decision – hopefully not)

    1. I don’t think major service cutbacks are likely. If I read the finance documents right Sound Transit already has allocated money in it’s budget for operating expenses.

      There are some service changes related to the opening of the line but those appear to be eliminating duplicate service or re-routing buses to serve the light rail stations.

      1. ST bus service doesn’t at all duplicate Central LINK, so there’s no issue there.

        We’ve covered the Metro service changes. It’s difficult to say with certainty, but it appears there’s a net decrease in bus service coming for the Rainier Valley.

      2. In the case of both the 7 and New Route 50, it looks like it will be some improvement in the frequency of night service. Try catching a 39 heading to Downtown after 6:30 right now. Even though the 50 will not go to Downtown or serve Ranier Beach, it will be an improvement over the 39. Sunday Service on the 39 as it is, is a joke.

        As for MLK Jr Way Service, I knew for years the 42 would be eliminated, but Metro will still be providing some local service as the stations are spaced too far apart for total replacement of transit service on this route.

      3. Sure, there are improvements alongside the cuts.

        In general, the big winners are the Seward Park neighborhood, route 8 and 9 riders, and people close to the light rail stations, or those who have an easy transfer to light rail and on to downtown or the airport.

        The losers are those who will need to take a bus from their home to light rail and then another bus from light rail to their alternate destination (eg UW), because in general the connections to the train aren’t exceptional.

        Also, short trips on MLK to and from points between the stations will be much less frequent.

    2. The bus cutback is until 10 PM, not 9 PM, and it is unrelated to the startup of rail service, despite the coincidental timing. Instead, the cutback is caused by the same economic forces that are causing cutbacks in library hours, parks maintenance, etc. In fact, there’s a movement afoot right now to extend rail service until 2 AM, but that won’t get anywhere until the economy improves.

      It’s a common misconception in Phoenix that light rail competes with bus service, but that’s not the case. The 2000 referendum mentioned here was devoted to both modes of transit, and more than 50% of local funding raised by the tax has gone to bus improvements. Prior to 2000, there was no bus service in Phoenix on Sundays and very little after the evening rush. Since then, service has been added at both times, and numerous routes have been added. The recent cutback in bus service is regrettable, but it can’t be blamed on rail, and it’s one small step back compared after several huge steps forward since 2000.

    3. I take the LRT everyday to work, and they did not cut back bus all the bus schedules. The LRT works with the busses now, and some bus routes where no longer needed because of the LRT. They run until midnight.

    4. Just a comment about Phoenix cutting bus service. The bus cuts had nothing to do with the LRT opening, and had to do with funding issues due to decreased sales tax revenue.

  2. Sounds like an interesting series. Strangely, our split King Country Metro bus and SoundTransit light rail service may actually be an advantage in this case.

    I’d bet “adverse weather” in Phoenix is the 100+ summer days. I see that the Phoenix Metro line runs by both ASU campuses and a lot of cultural venues. (I wonder if the students are counted in that density?) So it seems like this system was built for commuters and event-attenders, but for the future as well. Dense housing on the line can attract new residents who don’t need to drive as much. (This is also my impression of the strategy of the Dallas DART system too.)

    1. Yeah who wants to wait for a train in a giant concrete parking lot next to a freeway in 110 degree weather?

  3. I’ll be interested to hear about San Jose. I knew the sprawling car-based city fairly well before light rail, and have only visited once since (only a few years after it opened). I’d love to see if TOD has happened since that time.

    1. I went there the day after Thanksgiving, and found it was a pretty good system. I got off the Caltrain from San Francisco at Mountain View, then took the light rail from there down to DT San Jose and got on another line down to the south. The northern half of the line had almost no riders, but that was probably because it was the day after Thanksgiving; it went past the corporate headquarters of eBay, Yahoo, Cisco, and a few others. The southern portion was quite packed, but I didn’t get to ride on it much more because unfortunately I lost my ticket and had to get off and get a new one, disrupting my itinerary. I’ll probably go back down there and try to ride the whole thing later this year. One thing I noticed about it was that it stopped sometimes every block or two. This greatly slowed it down, and it seems like that perpetuates sprawl even along a rail corridor. Also, they have Kinki Sharyo vehicles that looked like they were almost the same configuration as ours except for some strangely placed bike racks. They have a lot more extensions planned and a BART line that’ll start construction in the next couple years, so we’ll see what happens.

  4. Could you explain how Phoenix was able to build more with less: Metro light rail system is 20 miles long for only $1.4 bn, built in a shorter period, but Sound Transit Link is only 16 miles long for $2.4 bn and taking longer to build.

    1. (raises hand) If nothing else, we’re talking about laying on-grade track on flat ground, versus building elevated track, retrofitting an underground tunnel, and building new underground tunnels complete with underground stations. I’m actually surprised the costs are so close.

    2. Rex,

      Did you read the post? It’s all at-grade, the stations are smaller (meaning smaller trains), and it passes through low-density areas where land is cheap to acquire and you have to spend less on mitigation.

    3. Sound transit is basically building a light rail system with the infrstructure of a subway. In europe they would define link as a pre-metro, whereas phoenix light rail would be a tram. also phoenix is as flat as a pancake, seattle is…. well you know

      1. Right. The people moving capacity of Link is significantly better than any other light rail system in the country.

    4. I don’t think it’s taking longer to build, Sound Transit does have to take a longer time to raise money, however. Central Link construction only started in 2003.

      Another point about cheaper, much of the middle section of Phoenix LRT is in a freeway right of way with a park-and-ride. So that land was obviously exceptionally cheap. With Central Link, Sound Transit did a great job of picking a routing that didn’t exactly follow the freeway, and thus provides a new high-capacity transportation corridor. The same can’t quite be said for the sections north of Northgate, or really any part of East Link.

      1. Unless they settle on the 520 alignment, East link is far enough away from freeways to provide lots of TOD opportunities. north of Northgate on the other hand has very, very few. Though, the alignment north of Northgate is in no way finalized. A case could be made to move it to a more productive location, but the trade off would be cost and speed.

      2. Phoenix’s light rail does not run down any freeway. It is all in the median of the streets. In 2017 there will be an extension down the I-10 freeway going west from downtown.

  5. Don’t think my last comment went through. The Phoenix light rail fare system isn’t distance-based. The fare is only $1.25, which is the same price as their public buses. Their bus system doesn’t have zones or peak periods, either. Only their Express and RAPID buses are more at $1.75.

    1. Yeah sorry Sam, comments with more than one link usually go into a sort of spam no-man’s land and need to be approved. Apologies for the delay.

  6. Another difference is that Seattle’s light rail uses 1500 volt electrification, versus the 750 volts more commonly encountered on light rail systems in the US. But when you have four car trains at 2 minute headways climbing 6% grades to Capitol Hill, you need that kind of power.

    As for San Jose, there’s been TOD but not much, because the geography of the line isn’t exactly favorable, with freeway running on one end and office parks on the other. The TODs that I can think of are at the Whisman station, at River Oaks, another at San Jose Diridon, and my personal favorite, a couple truly urban mixed use buildings at Gish.

  7. I am a Seattle native, and a senior at Arizona State University. Live in Tempe and take all of my classes on the downtown Phoenix campus, and work at Sky Harbor, so I take the train two-six times per day.

    The system has surprised me, as I have struggled to maintain my PNW car-free lifestyle here in the Valley for the past three years. The trip from my place to downtown has gone from 45 minutes to 23 minutes. The frequency has seemed to be faster than the posted headways (I have noticed arrivals every six minutes, beating the posted 10). I was very skeptical of how efficient the 100% at grade set-up would be, but the traffic light synchronization has faired well, and we zip through intersections.

    The system has brought about the first true transit centers in the area (as of recent, the transit centers were all malls), and freeing up the Valley Metro’s busiest route that the rail line mirrored (the Red Line) has allowed those buses to serve other routes more frequently. That’s pretty much it for now, excited to read this series…

    1. Interesting comment. It’s great to hear stories from people and how rail projects can have a positive impact in their lives.

    2. I live in Downtown Phoenix just 1/2 block from the new light rail and it has changed my entire lifestyle. I work and play in Downtown Phoenix and now, with the light rail, Tempe is also my playground. With my bicycle in tow, I have explored Tempe and use the Orbit system to meet friends at Tempe Marketplace. I rarely use my car anymore. Never realized how stressful driving is and had no idea how wonderful the light rail would be.

  8. Thanks for this great update to the new Phoenix system. I look forward to your thoughts about what to learn from their opening.

    I just have to say that there is something REALLY embarrassing about Phoenix having light rail before us. I mean so did Vancouver, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Salt Lake, Albuquerque, and Dallas. And we know how far ahead Portland and even Los Angeles are, compared to what we’ll start with. But Phoenix??!! Dang!

    1. yeah seattle almost makes the new york second avenue subway look good.

      theres only been rapid transit proposals in seattle just about every decade since the 1910s, all of which have gone nowhere, save for Link 2009.

    2. Denver, Charlotte, Edmonton, Houston, and Calgary also got something going before us. Vancouver down on the Columbia could have had MAX there by now. As for Albuquerque, we may have beat them, that was a commuter rail operation, like SOUNDER. Governor Richardson got it started as part of the plan to save the BNSF Raton Pass route from abandonment. In one direction the route was down to just the Southwest Chief, and in the other direction, occasional freight movements shared it with the Southwest Chief. Amtrak would have had to divert the Southwest Chief through Texas if this route through Northeast New Mexico and Southeast Colorado was abandoned. The Southwest Chief, may actually be the fastest passenger train in the west, with sections regularly getting 90MPH.

    3. Most of the first (NY, LA and Chicago) and second tier (SF, DC, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Philly) have decent rail systems, only sprawling Houston has really bad coverage, though LA and Dallas have systems that are pretty crappy.

      But when nearly every third (Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Miami, Seattle) and even fourth tier (Salt Lake, Portland, San Diego, Cleveland, St Louis, Kansas City, Tampa) city has a rail system better than yours, you know you’re late to the game.

      Though we’re going to pass a lot of other cities.

  9. I forgot to mention a couple other things about METRO light rail. ASU eliminated its intercampus shuttle from the main Tempe campus to the downtown Phoenix campus, meaning that the 6,000 students on the downtown campus are to rely on the train. Although students ride for free, it keeps the trains nice and full.

    Also, chatter on the train has revealed some animosity about not running the trains through Sky Harbor airport. It would have added extra time and stop to the route, giving the car-lovers more reason to stay stuck in traffic. Eventually, the 44th Street & Washington will be connected to the rest of the airport’s facilities via an automated people mover system, but until that time there are shuttle buses service the terminals. There was, though, an article in the Arizona Republic newspaper reporting that more than double the amount of people are riding the shuttle to the airport than they expected. Additionally, the automated, audio announcement on the train does not tell riders that the station is the stop for the airport; one must look at the station platform to see the airport logo and station moniker.

    The announcement anomaly is not confined to the airport stop. 3rd/Washington is not identified (via audio) as the convention center/arena/ballpark (helpful for tourist), Van Buren/Central is not identified as Central Station (big bus terminal) or ASU downtown campus. Obversely, the few audio announcements on the train are for College/Veterans and university/Rural (both announced as “on ASU campus”), and 38th/Washington is announced as “Gateway Community College”). Ok, I think I’m done for now. Peace!

  10. could you explain their fare collection system? do they have a smart card system? Turnstiles? transfer system? Would like to know more detail.

    1. Kind of a mixed bag here. I’ll start at the beginning…

      Before the advent of METRO, the bus system used paper transfers (just like KC Metro). In December 2007, one year before the rail line open, Valley Metro changed all of the fare boxes on-board buses and changed the fare structure: you either paid $1.25 to board the bus for one ride (with no receipt or transfer), or you purchased a $2.50 all-day pass. After inserting the money, the farebox (on the bus, mind you) spit out a magnetic-strip ticket with a date and time stamp. The next time you board a bus, you stick the ticket in a little slot on the farebox, it recognizes it as an all-day, spits it back out, and you take a seat.

      METRO rail is on the “honor system”. You purchase the same all-day pass from the TVM, and if you choose to take one ride, you pay $1.25 and it simply prints a receipt for the fare (to show if they check for tickets). I should note that monthly passes are also printed on paper tickets with magnetic stripes. The most advanced fare care is called a “platinum pass” (proximity card); when boarding a bus I tap my card against an orange sensor on the farebox. On light rail, I tap the same sensor on a TVM. The card is a yearly pass and I received this card as an ASU student; employers distribute this card as well.

      No turnstiles. No real smart card system.

      1. From what you have explained and the comment by pbenjamin below, Isn’t the “platinum pass” a smart card?

      2. Not in my opinion. When I think smart card, I think of a card that you load money onto that is debited (i.e. the upcoming ORCA card); I don’t consider the current PugetPass a smart card. Yes, you wave it at a sensor, but that is the smartest thing about it. Since Phoenix doesn’t have zones, peak fares, or commuter rail, there is no denomination associated with the platinum pass. I’m sure it’s a “smart card” in some light, but it is very basic compared to other agency’s card systems.

      3. Does that mean that you cannot load money on the platinum pass and the fare deducted from the card each time you tap in and out? If that’s the case, then I would agree with you. Then what is the use of tapping in/out?

        Another thing how effective are they at catching fare evaders?

      4. No, you cannot load money to the platinum pass. I assume that the reason you tap in is to track ridership; if I have to run to catch a train, I don’t tap in at all….

        As far as fare evaders, I have only seen one fare inspector, and nobody got written up.

      5. I don’t know about the ASU folks, the the corporate providers of the platinum pass incur charges related to the number of trips. It is either a per-trip charge, or there is a flat number of trips allowed and then a per-trip charge thereafter.

    2. There are ticket machines at all of the stations. There are more exotic options but most people buy either a single ride ticket ($1.25) or an all day ticket ($2.50). The single ride tickets do not allow for transfers to/from buses, the all day tickets do. You simply hold your ticket and show it to an on-board ticket inspector upon demand. These are simply cardboard tickets with the date and time printed on them. There are also smartcard pay-by-the-ride tickets that are typically subsidized by one’s employer and are supposed to be swiped at a validation station before entering the train. The ticket inspectors supposedly have electronic equipment that can determine if these tickets have been swiped. I have ridden the trains on 6 round trips since they started charging (the first 5 days were free) and have not yet encountered a ticket inspector.

  11. Good information I stumbled across, thanks for the read. I live in Central Phoenix, and while my commute to work is already biking distance (don’t need to commute on the train), I use the new METRO light rail system for pleasure, and it’s great. Gone are the days of the stress of driving to sporting events in DT PHX or Tempe, and the hassle and costs of parking, and gone are the days of taking expensive cabs home at night. It’s so convenient.
    However, some of the population densities in this blog are a little off. You probably took them from the census, although they don’t really paint a true picture. Phoenix is a city with a massive land area, some of it uninhabited desert in the north. On top of that, there are several large areas throughout the city that are mountain ranges (Camelback, Squaw Peak, the Phoenix Mountain Preserves and South Mountain, which in land area is the nation’s largest municipal park). So, the 3,000 persons per square mile figure you are quoting is grossly inaccurate and low in reality, although it’s correct using simple land area divided by persons. Even in your second figure showing population densities around the light rail stations, this is evident. The first few stations are along Camelback Road, which is a typical mixed residential/commercial area, and the pop. densities are approaching 5,500-6,000+ persons per square mile. Then, where the employment densities spike and population densities lower to 3,000+ people per square mile, those are stations are along Central Avenue (Phoenix’s midtown high rise/employment district) and the downtown area. After that, the light rail travels through some of Phoenix’s most industrialized areas and the airport (not much population), then it’s off to Tempe where the light rail passes through more populated areas. The point is, 5,000 – 6,000 persons per square mile is typical throughout the City of Phoenix, taking away the non-populated land masses. Overall, great read and I’ll look forward to the rest.

    1. I agree that taking a city’s gross limits, finding the people living with in them and dividing that by the area isn’t very accurate, but I think it is still a decent benchmark, particularly since it’s the only one we’ve got.

      5,000~6,000ppsm for residential neighborhoods sounds about right, but it still isn’t very much. You say there’s mountains in Phoenix, I’ll tell you there’s mountains in San Francisco (mt davidson, twin peaks) that more than 10% of Seattle is parks, and more than 10% of it’s industrial as well. It’s difficult to know which city has more land devoted to residential, but I’d bet that the overall percentage ends up being relatively similar, something like 60~70%, and Seattle’s still more than twice as dense as Phoenix, and San Francisco is more than twice as dense as Seattle. Even some not particularly dense, mostly single-family neighborhoods in Seattle are around 10,000ppsm (wallingford, greenwood) and we’ve got several neighborhoods beyond 30,000ppsm (Belltown, the multi-family parts of Capitol Hill, the U-District and Queen Anne).

      If I get around to it, this weekend I’ll make a similar graph showing densities around Link stations.

  12. I wasn’t trying to imply that Phoenix approaches the overall density of Seattle, not close. But Phoenix really does have a massive amount of land that is desert areas and mountain preserves, more so than anywhere… it’d be like including a big part of the Sound in Seattle’s density numbers and then reporting that…. The 5,000-6,000 ppsm for Phoenix is including regular parks and industrial areas and the airport and everything, just excluding the mountain preserves. Anyway, looking forward to the rest… p.s. just FYI, the first picture you have of Phoenix is looking to the west from additional mountain park areas (Pagago) and therefore is at sunset/dusk, not dawn, robotography is mistaken.

    1. I take some of what I said back, if you look here, a significant portion of Phoenix is mountains.

      That’s sun set? I’ll update the caption. Thanks, Keith!

  13. Yeah, and the largest park is South Mountain Park/Preserve, which is the big one south of Baseline Rd (in the map you posted). The area of the city south of South Mountain is Ahwahtukee, all of which is Phoenix city limits.
    Anyway, it’s great to read this blog on my own Metro, but I’m also very interested in all of the Seattle Transit developments. Thanks for the info!

  14. As a Tacoma transplant to Phoenix that lives right on the line in Downtown Phoenix, I have been following the Seattle Link project. This will be interesting from YOUR point of view as opposed to mine. Just a couple of things to add to what has already been said –

    The fare system is an “honor system” by which they mean, you better buy a ticket or you will be pleading “Your Honor, I just forgot. Please don’t make me pay this $500 ticket” after you get caught by the rail cops. The fare boxes are simple enough, take credit/dbt/cash. Spit out a ticket that you just have to hold on to or swipe if you get on a bus. It is nice not worrying about zones or hours. Makes it easy.

    The line is slow. There is no other way to put it. I’m not sure when you pulled you “one hour” number from end to end but it takes almost 2. The train constantly gets stuck at lights, especially through downtown Phoenix.

    The bike racks are terrible. They don’t really work and they are dangerous. People are constantly at risk of being hit by a bike and there are usually people sitting in the bike rack.

    They can run 3 cars per train but they never do. Even post basketball games, they are not running them. As a result, they are always crowded.

    1. I don’t get why they wouldn’t run all three cars most of the time. I can see doing this for security reasons in really off-peak hours (middle of the night), but is there any benefit to this at other times? Sure there are fewer seats to clean and you reduce the wear on the wheels and axles, but this doesn’t seem like a huge benefit.

    2. “The line is slow. There is no other way to put it. I’m not sure when you pulled you “one hour” number from end to end but it takes almost 2. The train constantly gets stuck at lights, especially through downtown Phoenix.”

      Christown mall to Tempe (3rd street) is about 40 minutes; what are you talking about? Maybe you rode the line during the opening day ceremony?

      “The bike racks are terrible. They don’t really work and they are dangerous. People are constantly at risk of being hit by a bike and there are usually people sitting in the bike rack.”

      Bike racks are only dangerous when users don’t know how to remove their bikes properly. Hopefully this will improve with time.

  15. I live in Phoenix and what blows about phoenix light rail is that it will never come up to where i live even when all the extensions are in.

    1. Same situation for me, but I plan to move to Tempe where I can catch the train if I want to. I might never be without a car, but I like the option of not driving to get to work.

  16. As a former resident of Phoenix, and current resident of Atlanta, I can attest to the fact that Phoenix is *not* the least-dense metro in the country. The Atlanta metro area is noticeably less dense than Phoenix. In fact, I heard on NPR one day (though I haven’t tried verifying the claim) that Atlanta is the least-dense metro in the entire world.

  17. I know in parts of downtown Scottsdale they have trolleys and the valley metro public bus goes to the AZ Mills Mall and I think goes to other malls, but I don’t know of any that “tour” around to many shopping places.

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