Trying to find your way around Surprise? Transportation can be tricky in Surprise, so here’s what you need to know.
Public transportation in Surprise, Arizona is minimal. A Park-and-Ride on the east edge of town offers access to an express bus to Phoenix, and there are some services for ADA-certified, seniors, veterans, and income-qualified citizens. Apart from that, there is no public transportation in Surprise.
Here’s what you should know about the public transportation options in Surprise, as well as what Surprise can do to improve the public transportation situation.
If you’re just looking for a more responsible way of commuting to Phoenix (or beyond) than driving your car, the Park-and-Ride may be the solution for you. The bus stop may be too far away to walk to, but driving or carpooling to the Park-and-Ride will solve that problem easily.
The Park-and-Ride is a free-to-use parking lot where you can securely leave your car before taking the Express bus out of Surprise. This bus goes almost directly to downtown Phoenix, only making two other stops on the way. From there, you can take the bus system to get pretty much anywhere in Phoenix or the surrounding cities.
Taking the bus is a good way to reduce the stress that comes with driving around this area, as well as cut down on what you’re paying for gas and maintenance for your own car. Plus, when you take the bus rather than your car, you do a little bit to help make traffic better by reducing the number of cars on the road.
The Surprise Express will take you pretty much straight to downtown Phoenix, but maybe that’s not where you want to be. Maybe you need to continue on to Tempe or Gilbert, or maybe Scottsdale is where you’re headed. Wherever it is that you’re headed, you can probably take a connecting bus to get there.
But downtown Phoenix is a hub of connecting buses, so how will you know which bus you need to take next? You’ll be happy to hear that that’s really simple to figure out with a virtual map that you can use right on your phone. The two best options are Google Maps and the Valley Metro app. Make the choice between them based on what features you want from them.
Google Maps is good for how quick, easy, and flexible it is. Just put in the addresses of your starting location and destination; if you don’t know the exact address, just find it on the map and tap it. When you press the button to ask for directions, select the Transit option for your mode of travel. It’ll give you several routes to choose from and an itinerary for each one.
With Google Maps, you can also adjust the details of your ride easily, even after you’ve done the search. You can input the time you want to leave or arrive, and you can make it prioritize routes that involve less walking or fewer transfers, and you can look for routes with accessible buses as well.
The Valley Metro app is a good long-term option because it lets you save your favorite stops so that you can use them later. It also lets you track your bus in real time, and it can send you notifications about your route so that you can be ready to get on the bus when you need to.
If you want to take the Express bus frequently, you should definitely invest in a bus pass. Single-ride fares for the Express routes are quite a bit more than the normal bus routes, especially when they start to add up.
Passes for Express buses come in 1-Day passes and 31-Day passes. A 1-Day pass costs the same as 2 single rides, and a 31-Day pass costs the same as 32 single rides. Use that, along with how many rides you expect to take per month, to determine which pass is right for you.
Passes are especially helpful if downtown Phoenix is not your destination. If you need to get to another city, you can use the same pass to board another bus and continue your journey. Passes are available to buy at Valley Metro transit centers, some retailers, and online. Online passes require 5-7 days to process before they are shipped to you.
In Surprise, there’s a special transportation service for veterans, income-qualified citizens, senior citizens, and disabled people. The latter two refer to people over the age of 65 or people who are ADA-certified.
To benefit from this program, you’ll have to apply for it by showing which qualifications you meet. This will involve presenting documents (or copies of documents) that prove military history, income, age, or disability. You may also need to present a photo ID such as a driver’s license or non-driver’s state ID.
Valley Metro Paratransit is designed to provide transportation for trips that are longer than 7 miles for work or medical appointments. They also provide transportation for ADA customers where they don’t have to go further than 3/4 of a mile from fixed routes. If this doesn’t fit your transportation needs, then check out RideChoice for more options.
To reserve a ride, call 1 to 14 days ahead; they don’t do same-day service, and 2 weeks is the furthest ahead you can make a reservation. It’s best to give them as much notice as possible so they can work their schedule around your needs. Call to make the reservation between 6 am and 7:30 pm. Subscription services are available if you need to go to life-sustaining treatments.
The other special option for qualifying individuals is Ride Choice. Qualifying individuals are veterans, income-qualified citizens, senior citizens over age 65, and ADA-certified citizens.
To use RideChoice, submit the appropriate documents with the application. Veterans need to present a document that shows their veteran status such as your DD form 214 or Veteran ID Card. Income-qualified citizens will be asked to provide documentation of income, age, and residence in the City of Surprise. Both will use this application.
RideChoice is a taxi service. You can typically only get 20 trips per month, but if you use it to get to school, work, or medical appointments, they raise the limit to 50 trips per month. Trips can be a maximum of 8 miles, but there’s also another option for if you need longer trips less frequently called RideChoice 400-mile.
Carpools & Vanpools
For cheap and green transportation, it can be a good idea to set up a carpool. Whether it’s for work, kids’ sports, or even just groceries, setting up a regular carpool can save you time, gas, and stress.
With every carpool passenger, there’s one less car on the road, making traffic that much better. You might split the bill or take turns with which car you use, but either way, you are paying less for gas by traveling with someone else. On top of all that, you spend less time getting that subtle behind-the-wheel stress, and the company can help you relax as well, especially when you are going home after a long day of work.
Does Surprise Need Better Public Transportation?
Compared to other cities in the Phoenix area, Surprise is pretty spread out. It is unlikely that you would come to live or visit here without having a car or at least access to something that can take you where you need to go. Because of that, you shouldn’t find it too hard to get around Surprise just by driving yourself and your family members around.
On the other hand, being able to drive yourself doesn’t mean it’s an especially pleasant thing to do, especially considering how bad traffic can get in this city. Of course, there are the programs above that ease that burden a bit. Between buses and carpools, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out grocery trips and your commute to work.
But those aren’t so great when things come up that you hadn’t arranged for, as finding out you ran out of milk shouldn’t mean you have to waste 2 hours sitting in traffic. This is where Surprise could at least do with a local circulating system.
Other cities in the Valley Metro system have bus routes that circulate locally. These buses stay within their respective city limits, allowing residents to quickly get from point A to point B within the city. Most of these buses are free to use as well.
If Surprise had a local bus system like this, it would make travel within the city a lot simpler and cleaner, as residents could easily reach their nearby destinations without driving there themselves. That would significantly decrease the number of cars on the road, making traffic much less congested, especially during rush hour.
They might even have a route that links to the Surprise Express stops, which would make it so that you wouldn’t have to drive to the Park-and-Ride in order to commute to a different city.