Tucson Sunlink was a long anticipated project by tucsonans across the board – from locals to students to downtown professionals alike – everyone had high expectations for the new and improved mode of public transportation.
After seven months in operation, Tucson’s Sun Link streetcar appears to have exceeded ridership estimates. In fact, the streetcar has been averaging more than 4,000 people each weekday according to the Tucson Department of Transportation’s.
The city was off by 400 riders with an estimate of 3,600 weekday riders. The numbers are even higher on the weekends in the larger downtown area events, averaging 8,000 daily riders!
The Department of Transportation is even pleased with the cost recovery, sources saying that it is “on point” with fare boxes anticipated to bring in $1.2 million per year. Things are going so smoothly that there may even be a new mobile ticketing app to be completed.
However, Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik is curbing his enthusiasm due to past and present issues involving the streetcar manufacturer, Oregon Iron Works. With the manufacturer over promising and under delivering, the biggest issue the Department faces is Oregon Iron Work’s future in the streetcar industry. Because the company does not plan to build streetcars in the near future, getting parts for the current machines driving the sunlink will prove to be a major challenge.
Kozachik also believes that the hubbub around the streetcar will die down sooner than we think and with that less riders.
For those driving their way around town, please note the following:
- Beginning Monday and running through Friday, April 3, Pima County Department of Transportation workers will be paving three roadways.
- Work on Freeman Road from Broadway to Speedway will take place March 16 and 17 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Crews will return the week of April 9 to complete the work.
- Workers will be on Soldiers Trail from Tanque Verde to Fort Lowell roads from March 18 through March 20, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Of course, delays will occur.
The street car and everyday traffic has been an ongoing challenge for tucsonans to get used to. Avoid car accidents by sharing the road with it in your own car and be extra cautious when driving near a streetcar track!