This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Riding the Sky Train, Phoenix, Arizona


I rode the Sky Train at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix yesterday. No, I didn't need to fly anywhere, I just wanted to ride on the Sky Train. It's free, it's fun, and it has the greatest views of my favorite city that I've ever seen. And if you want the sense that Phoenix has finally arrived in the 21st Century, go see the Sky Train. It's amazing.

The Sky Train has been in operation since 2013, but everything is so new and squeaky-clean that it looks like something from a science fiction movie. The main station, which is just south of Washington on 42nd Street, is where cars and busses pick up and drop off people, and it connects with a "people mover" which is right on 44th Street and Washington, which is just a few steps from the Light Rail.

And it's all about steps. If you're like me, and think mostly of cars, and parking, and stuff like that, it takes a completely different way of thinking. Walk with me.

Interior space of the Sky Train Station, Phoenix, Arizona

My impression of the Sky Train Station was that it reminded me of every science fiction movie that I've ever seen where people are walking around, and space ships are flying by outside of a star port. Of course, in science fiction movies, the people just take for granted the space ships flying by, and it was the same yesterday at Sky Harbor Airport. Of course I was gawking at the sky trains, and the airplanes flying by, but for most people it was as ordinary as being in an elevator.

If you haven't ridden on the Sky Train, it may seem like the tracks are going all over the place, in no particular direction, but they're really going east and west from one side of the airport to the other. Of course, they have to go south a bit to get to the middle of things, but ultimately all it's doing is going back and forth, east and west, stopping at the terminals, and the big parking garage that's east of the terminals.

By the way, the Sky Train is for standing. There are a couple of seats there on the ends, but mostly the trip is over so soon that there's really no point in sitting down. The train moves pretty fast, and I found that I had to hold on to the rails (well, I have a weak ankle!), and I saw that most people were very comfortable standing for the few minutes it took for the Sky Train to take them to their destination. Everyone (except me) had their rolling bags (you know, the kind that fit on the overhead bins), and since the Sky Train is like the light rail, when the doors open, the floor is seamless to the building and the train, with no step, so rolling bags are easy to roll.

When the Sky Train gets to terminal 3, it goes back. It doesn't need to turn around - it just backs up. So going west I was in the back of the train, and going east I was in the front. I didn't time exactly how often the trains run, but you really don't wait more than about two minutes. And it took about five minutes to get from the station to terminal 3. Just about long enough for me to gawk at the view, and for my fellow travelers to check their phones.

By the way, terminal 2 is in the way of the Sky Train, so they'll have to figure out what to do in order for it to get all of the way to 24th Street, which right now is the plan. Of course, there isn't a terminal 1 anymore, and the most people use terminals 3 and 4, so there's no urgent need to continue construction going west, and it may or may not happen. I'll let you know what I find out.

Thank you for riding on the Sky Train with me!

The Phoenix Sky Train "people mover" bridge over Washington at 44th Street. The Sky Train Station is at left, behind those trees. You're looking west from the Light Rail Station.


Thank you to my patrons on Patreon who help support History Adventuring! If you like these blog posts, and would like to make suggestions for future ones, please go to patreon.com/PhoenixHistoryAdventuring where you can show your support for as little as $1 a month. Thank you!

What Patreon is http://bradhallart.blogspot.com/2016/03/supporting-creators-on-web-with-patreon.html