PHOENIX LIGHT rail promoter Valley Metro Rail took delivery of the first of 50 low-floor LRVs from Kinki Sharyo on December 5. The 27?4?m long vehicles are being shipped to Phoenix from the Japanese manufacturer’s Osaka plant for final assembly at Metro’s facility near Sky Harbor Airport.Three vehicles are due to be assembled during January, with Metro expecting to have 30 delivered by the end of 2007. First testing of the LRVs will take place in spring 2007, on a short stretch of track on Washington Street, Phoenix, between 56th and 44th streets, rather than in Jersey City as originally planned. Expected to cost US$1?2bn, the initial 32?6?km line will run from 19th Avenue/Bethany Home Road in Phoenix to Sycamore/Main Street in Mesa via Tempe, and is scheduled to open in December 2008. On November 30, Alternate Concepts Inc was selected as the line’s operator under a US$27m, five-year agreement. Metro officials said that ACI’s experience running mass transit services in Puerto Rico and Houston’s light rail system gave it the edge over its four rivals in the bidding process. Defeated contender Washington Group International has lodged a complaint over the outcome with the Federal Transit Authority.Plans for the first extension are taking shape, and Metro expects to apply soon for an FTA grant to fund the 7?2?km Northwestern Corridor from 19th Avenue to 25th Avenue/Mountain View Road. Serving five intermediate stations, this line will cost around US$300m. Metro hopes to award a single contract for preliminary engineering services, final design and design services during construction.n