Phoenix area's light rail system to start charging

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Long lines on last day of free rides

PHOENIX -- Anyone who wants to ride the Phoenix area's new light rail for free better hurry.

Wednesday is the last day Metro light rail won't charge for rides on the sleek new trains.

The $1.4 billion, 20-mile line opened to the public Saturday, when throngs of people crowded onto the trains and lines to hop on board lasted up to an hour and a half.

Each day since has been busy, as well, but the first real test of light rail's success won't come until Monday.

That's when commuters return to work in force following the holidays.

Regular fares on the trains are the same as city buses, $1.25 for a one-way ride and $2.50 for an all day pass.

Light-rail officials are expecting at least 26,000 riders on average during weekdays.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Phx. Light Rail gets overcrowded on third day

PHOENIX -- Light rail customers lined up to get onto the new public transportation system Tuesday afternoon.

But the demand to ride the new rail appeared to be too much for the current system, as lines stretched down streets and parkinglots became packed with rider cars.

Traffic officers were called to direct drivers and control waiting lines, mostly at the ends of the rail line.

Train cars were standing-room only and Valley Metro authorities started asking people invited for the free ride on the rail to get off the train once they reached the end of the line, and get back in line to return.

Riders say that the lure of a free ride on the city's newest service is likely causing a rush that will subside once the rail becomes pay-per-ride.

The light rail will cost $1.25 per ride beginning January 1st.