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But cats don’t like to ride on the metro, I hear you say. True. But no sooner did I grouse about the lack of good public transportation in the US than lo and behold! The Phoenix Light Rail system opened.  This is more like it!  The Metro offers a very inexpensive and convenient way to travel around metropolitan Phoenix, including outlying Tempe (home of Arizona State University) and a bit of Mesa.

The grand opening was on December 27-28, 2009.  As luck would have it the Captain and I were attending a cat show (I know.  But we like cats.), and we stumbled serendipitously into the gigantic street fair celebrating the opening just outside the Phoenix Convention Center.  As it turned out, there were festivities of one sort or another at almost all the major stops along the 20-miles of Metro.

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It took twelve years to build the system, and it was gravely inconvenient for many businesses and residents during construction.  But now, everyone seems well pleased. The Metro web site gives all the information you could need to take advantage of this service.  The fares are ridiculously low – $2.50 will buy you an all-day pass, which includes some amount of bus transfer.  If you’re over 65 your day-pass costs only $1.25.  There are Park and Ride lots at many stations which offer free parking during the Metro’s hours of operation.

In addition, some fun blogs have sprung up around Light Rail: RailLife.com, Blogs about Phoenix Lightrail, and my favorite, found by the now-famous Mrs. Harris (bread, pumpkin ice cream), PHX Rail Food, which is a great guide for places to eat within easy walking distance of each Metro stop. You Are Here gives an urban stroller’s guide to metro Phoenix, with guides to culture, shopping, sports, events, dining and nightlife all along the Route.

Speaking of Mrs. Harris, she had the brilliant idea that we should take a day and ride the Metro from one end (Sycamore and Main in Mesa) to the other (Montebello and 19th Ave. in Phoenix).  So that is exactly what we did a while ago, and it was loads of fun.  We met a lot of people, all of whom were pleasant and chatty.  We stopped in Tempe for a walk-around and ended up giving our opinion on speed radar on the freeways for a PBS show (our 15 seconds of fame). Then we took a mid-day break and visited the Phoenix Art Museum where, in addition to walking through several exhibits, we ate a delightful lunch.

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We rode to the end of the line, then jogged to the other track and rode straight back to where we began.

If you’re interested in some photographs of both the cat show and the festivities outside the Convention Center at the Metro’s opening, click here, or over on the right under Photographs (Cat Show and Rail Opening)(You’ll see that I was fascinated by the break dancing.).

If you’re interested in some of the sights along the Metro, click here, or over on the right under Photographs (Riding the Light Rail).  These photographs are in three sections: sights along the rail ride, people we met, and some of the art at the Metro stops (each stop has at least one piece of art incorporated in its design).

And if you need to get your cat somewhere, you can probably take her on the Light Rail, but she’ll have to be in a cat-carrier.  She might even enjoy the journey! We did.

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