A look back on 2021 | Valley Metro
fireworks over Chase field

It's that time of the year again. The hustle and bustle of the holidays are over, and now that the calendar has turned from December to January it's a time to reflect on how far we've come in the past year and what we hope to accomplish in the new year. Personally, I'm very proud of some of the projects I completed in 2021, but of course, I'm not alone in recognizing that I could have stuck to some of my resolutions a little better.

At Valley Metro, we can look back on notable events in 2021. Here are some of the big ones, in no particular order:

Worm on the rail - The Phoenix Suns went all the way to the NBA Finals last season and that meant thousands of fans were heading to the Footprint Center to cheer on the “Valley Boyz.” One person got a LITTLE too excited and  performed "the worm" on the light rail tracks. 

Folks, seriously, as fun as it may look, don't dance on the light rail tracks. This is one of those "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt" situations.

Valley Metro has a new app that can track trains and buses in real time

New Valley Metro app - We've got a new app! The old Ridekick app has been shown the door and the new Valley Metro app is here to stay. The big draw to this app is being able to view where buses and trains are in real time. For more information, check out this blog, and or  download it for free on the App Store or Google Play.

Mural at Jefferson/1st Ave

Public Art highlights - We turned the spotlight on some amazing artists in 2021. Heather Frietas did an amazing mural featured at the Roosevelt/Central Ave light rail station highlighting female trailblazers including Frida Kahlo and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Later in the year, that same space was turned over to Jerome Fleming, a.k.a.Kulorbandit, who pictured a child on a bright green field.

Design a transit wrap winner

Marcos de Niza High School student Sydney Storment was named the winner of the 21st Annual Design a Transit Wrap contest.  Her colorful work entitled "Together We Go" will be featured on a light rail train and a bus for one year. Lastly, we're always happy to shine a light on some of the Valley's youngest artists. Click here to check out the winners of this year's Cool Transit STUFF contest.

Valley Metro Streetcar at sunset

Tempe Streetcar - A new era of transportation in the Valley is just around the corner! Actually, if I get up from my desk and just walk around a corner in the office, I can see it - brand new streetcars are here and waiting in the train yard. These lean, green machines are being tested and prepared for service on the brand new streetcar line in Tempe. The first streetcar was delivered in March.

Maintaining service during COVID - COVID hasn't been easy on anyone and that's true for Valley Metro as well. Despite the monumental impacts that it's had on the transit industry, Valley Metro has maintained a high level of service throughout 2021. Not only that, we’re welcoming more riders to take a ride with us. Ridership levels steadily increased in 2021, and last October we resumed front door boarding on the bus with the installation of operator doors.

Picture of Valley Metro's final printed transit book

Goodbye, Transit Book! - Valley Metro published its last transit book in October 2021. I'm sure it's a bittersweet goodbye to some of us who traditionally depended on it to get from place to place on time. People who still need that hard copy schedule of their usual route can still obtain one by contacting Valley Metro customer service at 602.253.5000 or csr@valleymetro.org.

Storylines Podcast Host Image

We've got a podcast! - In 2021, Valley Metro started a new podcast to tell the story of transit in the Valley of the Sun. It is appropriately titled Storylines, and it has covered the community-building aspects of transit, the possibility of electric buses, and how our Customer Experience Coordinators care for the people that they come across each day.  Give it a listen!

Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaking at a November event

Secretary Pete visits the Valley - In November, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and several other federal and local officials gathered in Phoenix to celebrate an agreement that provides more than $150 million to the Northwest Light Rail Extension Phase II. In his remarks, Secretary Buttigieg said the project will provide communities better access to jobs and healthcare. U.S. Senator Mark Kelly also spoke at the event and said it's infrastructure projects like this that will put people back to work.

Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith speaking at the 50th Street/Washington light rail station opening

New Year, New CEO - Valley Metro CEO Scott Smith announced his retirement in 2021. I know I'm not alone in wishing him the best as he enters this new chapter of his life. He's been at the helm of the organization since 2016, and in that time Valley Metro has expanded service, secured funding for important future projects, and endured the headwinds caused by COVID-19. I've had the pleasure of meeting him a few times, and I can honestly say there are few people who are more personable and affable. 

The year 2021 was certainly a year to remember for Valley Metro, and we plan on continuing our mission to connect communities and enhance lives in 2022. To learn more about achievements at Valley Metro, view our Progress in Transit document. Happy new year and thanks for riding with us!

Alex Tsotsos
Alex Tsotsos
Rail Operations Communications Specialist
Writer, editor, musician, gamer, and former news professional. Frequently seen at Phoenix Rising matches and jogging around Gainey Ranch. May throw things in the presence of typos.