540 Express bus route

Phoenix resident Mike Luecker addresses the Valley Metro board of directors on Thursday, urging them to reconsider their plan to eliminate the 540 Express bus route.

Michael Mashburn/Special to AFN

The Express Route 540, which caused a public uproar in its proposed elimination, will now run as Route 522 starting next month.

Since April, Ahwatukee Foothills residents voiced their opinions on the issue of their much-needed route to downtown Phoenix.

Starting July 23, the new route will make four morning and afternoon trips. Two trips will begin at 48th Street and Elliot Road and travel down 48th Street to Warner Road, then head east to the Tempe Sports Complex, said Susan Tierney, of Valley Metro.

In addition, Route 522 will no longer make the Warner/Elliot Loop, according to Tierney, which was a key concern for many Route 540 commuters.

Slightly later pick-up times for Route 522 are also a concern for commuters.

Many Ahwatukee residents using the 540 to get to central Phoenix, who report to work sometimes by 6:30 a.m., find the earliest pick-up times for the new route are not early enough.

The current times scheduled for the new route start pick ups at 48th Street and Elliot Road at 6:30 a.m.

“It will cause hardships on those employees who report to work during these times and not able to change work schedules, me being one of them,” Ahwatukee resident Bobbie Hendrix said in an email.

Mario Diaz, also from Valley Metro, said the pick-up times aren’t “set in stone” and always have an opportunity to be reviewed before the next service change that occurs every six months.

“The plan is to restructure,” said Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio of Ahwatukee, who advocated for keeping Route 540. “It’s not the perfect service, but an all-out cut would have made a bigger inconvenience.”

Valley Metro took public comment about the proposed changes in April. After the proposal was taken to a Regional Public Transportation Authority board meeting last month, eliminations for several routes, including the 540, were up in the air before an official move was made earlier this month.

For a list of service changes for bus routes including the Express Route, RAPID and local routes, visit www.valleymetro.org.

• Diana Martinez is freelancing this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Reach her at thedianamartinez@gmail.com.

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