Air travelers in and out of Phoenix will soon have an easier commute to the airport. With construction already underway, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is set to open the first part of the PHX Sky Train in the spring of 2013.
“This would be a faster, more efficient connection to the light rail,” said Alisa Nakashima-Smith, spokesperson for Sky Harbor. “It is a more streamlined travel route, and a lot of business travelers could benefit from the newer system.”
The Sky Train will be environmentally friendly and could reduce congestion on the airport roadway, making it easier for people to be dropped off and picked up, Smith said.
The $1.5 billion project funded by Sky Harbor will also eliminate the need for the airport shuttle system currently in place, possibly saving the airport $6 million to $9 million a year, she added.
The new system will be free for the public to use, Smith said.
The Phoenix community could also benefit from the streamlined process, said Cynthia Weaver, spokesperson for the Phoenix Convention Center.
“The addition of the Sky Train will provide additional options for transportation for people coming into town,” Weaver said.
The Phoenix Convention Center often hosts large conferences where they expect national as well as international travelers. Those attending conferences rent hotel rooms, dine and shop in Phoenix, Weaver explained.
Although no exact date for completion has been set, operational tests for the train will begin in the spring of 2012 and stage one of the project will run between the light rail station on 44th Street, East Economy parking and Terminal 4. By 2015, the train will stretch to Terminal 3, including a short walkway to Terminal 2. The project will be completed in 2020 and extend to the rental car center.
Jasmine Garcia, a freshman majoring in journalism, is looking forward to the new system. Garcia, like many other out-of-state students, frequently uses the shuttle system to travel from the airport to the light rail and back to Taylor Place.
She saw the current construction for the Sky Train near the airport when she recently used the shuttle system and light rail on her return to Phoenix from a weekend in Texas.
“The train looks different, and it’ll be really convenient since it’ll drop people off by the light rail. That works for me,” said Garcia, adding that she feels “the shuttles are kind of dirty anyway.”
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