Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to gain light rail connector

Phoenix’s Metro light rail system opened three years ago but frustrated riders by leaving off a key destination – the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

In early 2013, plans have been announced for the opening of Sky Train which will light rail’s 44th Street station with Terminal 4 and replace the current shuttle-bus system.

According to airport projections and the Arizona Republic, only about 10%, of the 13,000 daily Sky Train riders will transfer to and from light rail. Last year, around 800 riders a day transferred to the free shuttle buses. The majority of users are expected to be airport employees who park in the 44th Street station parking lot.

Reports suggest that the light rail connector will clear up both congestion and confusion, as signs to the existing shuttle bus transport is not clearly marked.

Sky Harbor is negotiating with major airlines about providing check-in and boarding-pass services at the 44th Street transfer station, said Jay DeWitt, project manager at the Phoenix Aviation Department that operates the airport.

“This is one of a kind in the United States. It’s the new front door to the airport,” DeWitt said.

Ultimately, pending funding, a $1.5 billion system linking the entire airport is envisioned.