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Light rail marks 6 months of service

After six months, light rail riders are giving the trains running between Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa a thumbs up.

“It’s very easy, very straightforward. Everything is clearly marked,” said light rail rider M. Davis of Tempe.

Monthly ridership rose from 911,883 in January to 1,044,135 in April before dropping to 928,259 in May.

Metro light rail says ridership dipped in May because students from Arizona State University were out of school and winter visitors had returned home.

Iain Woessner, an ASU student, said he began riding light rail to the university’s downtown Phoenix campus since light-rail service began.

“With traffic and the cost of gas, it’s cheaper than driving,” he said. “I think more and more people are catching on that it’s a pretty convenient way to get around.”

One recurring problem, accidents between light-rail trains and vehicles.

“Most of the time, the accident occurred because the driver didn’t obey a red light or arrow,” said Hillary Foose, public-information officer for Metro light rail.

On average, damage to train cars has been moderate and mostly aesthetic, Foose said.

Another thing that’s become confusing, when, where and how to use fare cards.

The platinum pass has led to some problems because riders think it’s a membership pass, and thus believe they simply need to have it on them. “But they really need to be validating that card on an orange pad every time they use it,” Foose said. “It’s a pay-as-you-use card.”

Light rail said it plans to tackle both issues by continuing with education campaigns for pedestrians, riders and drivers.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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