PHX Sky Train Testing

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The automated and elevated train that will shuttle passengers around Sky Harbor Airport took its first test run this week. We’ll have an update on progress of the PHX Sky Train.

Ted Simons: The sky train at Sky Harbor had its first test run this week. The electrically powered people mover will start moving people between the light-rail and terminal 4 early next year. Here to talk about the train is Sky Harbor's Julie Rodriguez. good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Julie Rodriguez: Thank you.

Ted Simons: A brief overview of what the sky train is.

Julie Rodriguez: It will transport passengers to terminal 4. It will run 24 hours a day and be free of charge. It will stop as often as every three minutes.

Ted Simons: every three minutes.

Julie Rodriguez: That's right. By early 2015 it will serve all three terminals. It will go to terminal 3 with a moving walkway to terminal 2.

Ted Simons: Right now these trains are entirely automated?

Julie Rodriguez: That's right. They run on an electrically powered center rail with a central control room.

Ted Simons: are they air conditioned?

Julie Rodriguez: They are air conditioned.

Ted Simons: As far as the testing, what was tested? We're seeing it moving along there. How fast will these things go?

Julie Rodriguez: When they are open and running and serving passengers they will go 35 miles per hour. In the first stages of testing, they are going about three miles per hour.

Ted Simons: Three miles an hour.

Julie Rodriguez: That's right. In the beginning.

Ted Simons: Are they going directly the entire loop, going from the light-rail to T-4?

Julie Rodriguez: They will be. Testing began between the east economy parking station and the maintenance facility. Eventually the train cars will run the entire length of the guide way between light-rail east economy parking and terminal 4. The first two months of testing you'll see an operator on board, then the operator will come off and they will be tested for many, many months in automated mode. They will be fully automated without a driver when the system is up and running.

Ted Simons: like the way light-rail was. A little action, a little more activity and it increases as time goes on?

Julie Rodriguez: Absolutely, yes.

Ted Simons: when can I go ride on them?

Julie Rodriguez: Early 2013.

Ted Simons: Going to be a big grand opening?

Julie Rodriguez: Oh, you bet.

Ted Simons: Again, you can take light-rail to 44th street, get off at 44th street, get on that sky train and get to terminal 4 just like that.

Julie Rodriguez: That's right will be very seamless. Currently you it take light-rail to the airport. 44th and Washington. Then a free shuttle into the airport. When the train opens in early 2013 it will be so seamless. You'll go up an escalator or elevator, take a moving walkway across Washington and be on the sky train platform. You'll board the train and it will be five mince to terminal 4.

Ted Simons: Are the outside areas air conditioned at all?

Julie Rodriguez: The 44th street and Washington station will be air conditioned. The east economy station will be open air with Sand and shade but you won't be on that platform very long. The terminal 4 station will be air conditioned.

Ted Simons: this goes to terminal 4 now. When does it extend over to terminal 3?

Julie Rodriguez: It extends to terminal three by early 2015 with a moving walkway to terminal 2, all the way to the rental car center by 20/20.

Ted Simons: this has a ways to go.

Julie Rodriguez: Yes. I wanted to mention another amenity. You can check your luggage and get a boarding pass at those sky train stations. When you arrive at terminal 4 if you have your luggage checked and boarding pass you just walk right to the checkpoint.

Ted Simons: how much does this thing cost?

Julie Rodriguez: All three stages, all the way to the rental car center, will be $1.5 billion No. Local tax dollars are being used to build the sky train. It's all airport fees. Airport user fees.

Ted Simons: this is user fee, tickets, rental cars, the whole nine yards?

Julie Rodriguez: The airport pays for itself. The people who use the airport pay for the rental cars, the restaurants.

Ted Simons: Testing increases as time goes on. Are they looking for anything specifically?

Julie Rodriguez: This is an incredibly high-tech system manufactured and is being operated by BOMBARDIER. It's the most high-tech system yet for bombarder and they are testing every single component. It takes months to make sure everything is thoroughly tested.

Ted Simons: They are moving slowly but every single aspect is being examined.

Julie Rodriguez: Absolutely. You'll see them moving for many months and wonder Ycan't I get on that? It's the testing phase. In early 2013 you'll be able to board and ride free of charge.

Ted Simons: how many passengers per train do you think?

Julie Rodriguez: Each is designed to hold 53 passengers with their luggage. They will be in configurations of two and three cars.

Ted Simons: So during the peak times we could see like we do with light-rail two, three-train connections.

Julie Rodriguez: Yes. During peak periods it will stop at each station as frequently as every three mince.

Ted Simons: wow. So so far, so good.

Julie Rodriguez: Absolutely. On time, on budget.

Ted Simons: all right. Can't ask for much more than that. Good to see you. Thanks for joining us.

Julie Rodriguez: Thank you.

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