Valley Metro light rail

The Valley Metro light rail was approved by voters and up and running by 2008, giving commuters access to Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa. 

MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5)---We're celebrating 25 years of "Good Morning Arizona" this week. A Valley landmark is also celebrating it's 25th birthday: Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. But a lot has changed since then.

Twenty five years ago, Buick Century station wagons were in, the price of gas was $1.11 a gallon and Phoenicians were just getting a second airport.

"In 1994, Gateway airport was in the middle of nowhere," said Ryan Smith C.M., Director Communications and Government Relations, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority.

Phoenix Sky Harbor was growing and the Valley needed another option. Private flights started immediately but commercial flights didn't take off until 2007.

Now, with three airlines and nearly 50 destinations, Mesa Gateway sees more than 1.5 million passengers a year.

"It does provide that second option," Smith said. "It's convenient and affordable option for the traveling public that's located here in the East Valley."

How we fly has changed immensely. First of all, there are more choices and more passengers.

"You have people that know a lot more information so more people are traveling," said Chris Russo, West Coast Director of Sales of Insight Vacations.

According to the International Air Transport Association, airlines today connect a record 20,000 thousand cities worldwide, more than double the number in 1994. But some destinations still hold the same appeal.

"Disney was always very popular, still is very popular," Russo said. "A lot of people like to go to California, Florida, so it really hasn't changed much, just how they book it has changed quite a bit."

Airlines like America West used to have city ticket offices across town and in grocery stores where you could book a ticket in person. Now, we can do it all from our phones.

"Twenty five years ago, because you had to go to a travel agency, there was one on every street corner," Russo said. "Now there's a travel agent in every household."

TRAVEL BY CAR

Looking at a map of the Phoenix metropolitan area in 1994, you can see how traveling by car has changed. The Loop 101 was just starting construction and Loops 202 and 303 didn't even exist.

"A trip across the Valley on surface streets would take twice as long because you're dealing with intersections and traffic signals," said Doug Nintzel with ADOT.

Now, there's more than 250 miles of urban freeways, improving travel time and congestion. And ADOT says there are plans to expand even more, especially in the South Valley.

"The freeways are much more than just roadways," Nintzel said. "They really spur the Valley's economic growth and are very much a part of the economic engines."

THE LIGHT RAIL

There's of course another way to get around since 1994 and it doesn't involve wings or wheels. The Valley Metro light rail was approved by voters and up and running by 2008, giving commuters access to Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa.

Now, at the end of this month voters will decide the fate of expansion to South Phoenix with Proposition 105.

Ali Dugaw is an Emmy-Award Winning journalist who produces for 3TV's Good Morning Arizona. Click here to see more stories published by Ali.
 
 


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