Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sun Link, Tucson's modern streetcar, began operations yesterday. I got on at about 6 PM and rode the entire route. Picture taking ensued:

The west end of the system is three blocks from my house, takes about 10 minutes to walk there with the street light.

The overall system cost about $197 million which included eight cars built in Portland, Oregon, stations, relocating utilities, and laying track. $73 million was from a federal grant and most of the rest was bond money.

The cars are wheelchair accessible and I saw how that worked. The conductor has to come out and operate a small ramp.

An individual day pass is $4.00, not sure what a monthly pass will cost.

Opening weekend was free. People were lined up to ride.

I got on and found a seat, but a large sticker obstructed my view so I stood most of the way.

Of course I ran into people I knew. Tucson is a big small town.

Marcus, Brandon, and Homer.

We had to switch trains at one point, on 4th Avenue. 

At times the cars became very, very crowded.

On the return trip I got off at 4th Avenue and had Brooklyn Pizza (green olives, onions, and artichoke hearts.

All along the route people were celebrating- mariachi bands were playing, people were selling things in booths. It was a very party-like atmosphere. People waved at us as we rode by. 

So the system runs from close to my house, through downtown, up 4th Avenue, to the University, to the University Hospital. I imagine a lot of students will be taking it in the fall. 

There are a lot of people who hate the idea of public transportation. The comments on the Arizona Daily Star website are mostly people whining and bitching about how expensive it is, why don't they just buy busses, etc., etc. The City of Tucson will have to start raising money for additional routes- east on Broadway, north on Campbell, south to the airport, for the modern street car to be successful. I hope they do so.

Tucson is a relatively small town. But getting on the street car, hearing the hum of the electric motor, seeing the joy of the other people- it was like being in a big city. I'm so glad the leaders in our community are looking forward.

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