For Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport’s automated people mover, things are looking up

Birmingham Int'l. Airport AirRail Link, UK
Birmingham Int’l. Airport AirRail Link, UK

On visits to the Phoenix metropolitan area in both May and November 2009, I had the opportunity to ride the region’s Valley MetroRail light rail system. At the station at 44th and Washington streets, construction was then underway on what is today’s Phoenix (PHX) Sky Train™ system, an automated people mover (APM) connecting light rail riders to Sky Harbor International Airport and vice versa. Well, on Apr. 8, this year, the system opened its doors to serve the public.

But as stated in an Apr. 8, 2013 Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport press release, there is more to this APM, way more.

“Passengers using the PHX Sky Train™ will find a seamless connection between Terminal 4, which serves 80% of the passengers at Sky Harbor, East Economy parking, and the regional METRO light rail system at 44th Street and Washington.”

Furthermore, “Travelers using Terminal 4, Sky Harbor’s busiest, will access the free PHX Sky Train™ from Level 3, where the gates and security checkpoints are located. From there, it is a two-minute ride to Sky Harbor’s largest economy parking area. Those wanting to connect with the METRO light rail only have a five-minute ride between Terminal 4 and the 44th Street Station. Trains arrive and depart every three to five minutes,” according to the press release.

Besides all this, the electrically powered system is fully automated. Shuttles or trains require no driver, operate around-the-clock all year and hence, are tremendously environmentally friendly.

“By early 2015, the PHX Sky Train™ will serve all three terminals at Sky Harbor, with a station Terminal 3 and a walkway to Terminal 2. In its final stage of construction, the PHX Sky Train™ will continue to the Rental Car Center.”

I’ve been to Sky Harbor Int’l. Airport also, and it’s a sprawling complex.

So, having a transfer device on this order on site available for airport passenger and employee use at Sky Harbor, tying together a number of locations, will make getting around the airport grounds that much more streamlined.

The PHX Sky Train™ automated people mover is just the latest edition in a line of airport-served APM systems thereby adding a new dimension to domestic intermodal travel.

For the PHX Sky Train™ things are definitely looking up!

– Alan Kandel