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Transportation

What’s Next for Phoenix’s Light Rail?

Proposition 105, a ballot measure funded in part by groups tied to the Koch brothers, threatens to halt long-planned extensions to the booming Arizona city’s transit system.
A local business displays a protest sign of the proposed extension of the light rail system along Central Avenue, in Phoenix.
A local business displays a protest sign of the proposed extension of the light rail system along Central Avenue, in Phoenix.Anita Snow/AP

In August 2015, voters in Phoenix approved Transportation 2050, a $31.5 billion sales tax measure that would add 42 miles of new light rail, bus rapid transit, and a host of new stations to the greater metro area. It was the third time in 20 years that residents had opted to expand the Valley Metro Rail system.

The existing network, which opened in 2008, was considered a runaway success. Ridership and revenues on the 26 miles connecting Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa far outstripped planners’ original projections. Today, roughly 50,000 riders use the system daily, which has been credited with helping spark an economic resurgence in downtown Phoenix.