There are many reasons that someone might make the jump from commuting by a personal vehicle to public transit. Let's face it, gas prices nowadays are crazy high, but taking transit has other benefits. It's certainly less stressful to leave the driving to a professional, and it's better for the environment too. But no matter what your reason is, welcome aboard! Here's a quick how-to on using Valley Metro to get from point A to point B.
Step 1: Plan your trip.
There are a few ways to find out how to get to your destination. If you go to our website at valleymetro.org, there's a prominent section that says "Plan a Trip" where you'll be able to put your "from" and "to" locations. You can also choose to get directions for right now or whether you'd like to arrive or depart at a certain time.
In my experience, it's important to give yourself some "wiggle room" in your commuting schedule. Whenever I plan a trip, I aim to arrive about a half hour before I need to be at my destination. Valley Metro operators meet their schedule more often than not, but there are all sorts of things that are out of their control that can get in the way. Save yourself the hassle and stress of running late by aiming to get to your destination early.
When you press "Get Directions," you'll get a selection of routes and modes that will get you there. You can click on any of them to get specifics on exactly which bus or train you'll need to board, whether you'll have any connections, and how far each mode of transportation will go.
You can also plan a trip by using the Valley Metro app or by calling our friendly customer service agents at 602-253-5000. The app, which has more than 75,000 downloads, has real-time bus and train tracking, making it easy to see when your ride will arrive.
Step 2: Buy your fare.
If you're dealing with the high gas prices like everyone else is, you'll be happy to know a 1-Day fare on Valley Metro is just $4. You can buy your fare at a wide variety of retail outlets, fare vending machines, transit centers and on-board the bus for exact change. The map for shops selling transit passes is here. Feel free to buy as many passes as you want while you're there. I usually pick up ten 1-Day passes at a time. Fifteen and 31-Day passes are also available. Later this year, with the Valley Metro app, you will be able to buy digital passes and in the future, reloadable cards.
Step 3: Prepare
When you're ready to take your trip, make sure you have your fare for the day handy. Keep in mind that the mask mandate is still in effect, so don't forget your face covering. It's always a good idea to bring water in a spill-proof container, and during the hot months a hat or an umbrella come in handy for shade. Another thing to think about is taking along some entertainment for the ride. Bring a book! If you plan on playing a video game or listening to some tunes or Valley Metro's Storylines podcast, make sure to bring headphones or earbuds.
Step 4: Leave for your stop.
This is another step where some preparation will go a long way. Leave a little early. I usually aim to get to my stop five minutes before the bus arrives. If you're a fair distance from your stop, don't be afraid to bike to your stop. Bicycles are a perfect solution to the "first mile, last mile" issue of public transit. Buses have a bike rack on the front and light rail trains have a section in the center of each car where you can hang a bike during your trip. For more advice on riding with bikes, check out this page.
Step 5: Validate your pass.
When your bus arrives, there's a fare machine at the front of the vehicle where you can validate your pass. Just slip it in and it'll slip back out with today's date on it. That's your validation that your pass is good for the entire day! If you're at a light rail stop, you can get your pass validated at any of the automated ticket vending machines.
Step 6: Enjoy the ride!
Sit back, relax, and leave the driving to us! Read that book or listen to that podcast! Be careful about drifting off to sleep as you could miss your stop. Be sure you're aware of your surroundings at all times. Make space for riders who may need more assistance, and stay aware of where the bus is and where you need to get off. Use the "stop" request button, yellow strip or cord before arriving at your bus stop so the operator can prepare to slow down.
Light rail trains don't have a stop button. They'll stop at every station, so just be sure you know where you're getting off. If you've taken your bike on a light rail train, it's a good idea to unhook it before you reach your destination.
Step 7: How to depart.
Gather all of your belongings and/or companions before you depart from your train or bus. If you've got a bike on the front rack of the bus, it's worth a quick mention to the operator that you'll need an extra minute to retrieve it. Also, it helps to say "thank you!" A little appreciation to our bus and rail operators goes a long way.
That's it! You've reached point B! Enjoy your time at work, at play, or accomplishing whatever you need to get done. If you're going to take a return trip, keep that validated ticket handy.
Step 8: Step up your game.
You've taken mass transit and you're ready to make it a regular part of your commute. Congratulations! Now you can save even more money by opting for a 31-day pass rather than stocking up on several daily passes. You can also look into whether your employer has a Platinum Pass or a similar transit assistance program to save even more money.
It's also a good idea to check out sharetheride.com. Sign up to earn points and prizes for your transit commutes and even find friendly people who are on the same route!
I hope this quick guide will help every new rider on Valley Metro. If you have any questions, please contact a customer service representative at 602-253-5000 and they'll be happy to help you on your way.