Desire a ride on the Sun Link streetcar

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Sun Link on Congress Street, courtesy of Donovan Dean Durban
Sun Link streetcar on Congress Street, courtesy of Donovan Dean Durband

The new modern Tucson streetcar named Sun Link is now linking the University of AZ Medical Center on the east end to the Mercado San Agustin & El Rio Clinic on the west side (west of the I-10 freeway).  Along the way are the University of Arizona, college-friendly Main Gate Square, the eclectic 4th Avenue shopping and restaurant district, and of course downtown Tucson’s main thoroughfares Congress St. and Broadway Blvd.

I’ve been riding a few times to experience this brand new, clean, air conditioned public transportation system, an alternative to the Sun Tran bus system, the Cat Tran vans (free for UA students and personnel), and the free Downtown Loop van service (mostly for workers).  Sun Link is only 4 miles long (3.9 miles to be exact) but it is a smooth ride on tracks, unlike Sun Tran which I just rode on Friday, where you can feel most of the bumps and lumps of our patched asphalt streets.

The one way ride from the east end to the west end  takes 30 minutes with about 20 station stops. To the credit of the drivers, the wait time at the station stops is momentary, just to unload and load passengers, most of whom have their Sun Go cards ready to “tap” on one of the 4 monitors inside.

Sun Link started operation on July 25, 2014 and offered free rides on the first weekend for 3 days, and also free for UA students/faculty/staff from August 15 to September 14.  Starting tomorrow only paid fares will be allowed.

So who’s riding from what I observed: curiosity seekers of the new air conditioned experience to escape the summer heat; families with kids who love trains and other modes of transpor; lots of UA students living in the nearby apartments (i.e. The District, The Cadence, The Junxion at Iron Horse); some downtown workers; some disabled in wheelchairs or using strollers; some bicyclists (with their bicycles on board); out of town visitors; etc.

There are a few Fare Enforcement officers in white uniforms who do check whether or not you have your Sun Go or Sun Link fare card on you.  It’s not a free ride, though I saw a family jump on for free the other day (not knowing they had to pay).   Some people have had trouble with their Sun Go cards, but that seems to have been resolved over these first few weeks of operation.

I would encourage Sun Link to have a  free ride day like Sun Tran does every so often, to introduce people to riding this new streetcar.  And one way fares for $1.50 should be available at the fare kiosks at every Sun Link station.  Having to drive to a Sun Tran office or Fry’s department store to wait in line to purchase a Sun Go card (in case you’re a tourist or occasional rider) is inconvenient.  At the present,if you don’t have a regular Sun Go card or don’t live in Tucson, you have to pay the all day fare  of $4 to get a 24 hour pass at the kiosks to get onto Sun Link.

Try out Sun Link just for the experience of alternative public transport, as it is a desirable option. It’s a very convenient mode of transportation for the University of  Arizona  students, who can live in their campus dorms and catch Sun Link to 4th Avenue or downtown, and back — without fear of  a DUI charge/conviction.  Sun Link does run till 2 a.m. on the weekend nights.

And enjoy the colorful & creative public art sculptures at eleven of the Sun Link stations.

For more info: http://www.sunlinkstreetcar.com/ or watch this Youtube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yQncxr5DrY

Hours of Operation (online and posted at each station)

Monday – Wednesday

  • 7 am – 6 pm every 10 minutes
  • 6 pm – 10 pm* every 20 minutes

Thursday – Friday 

  • 7 am – 6 pm every 10 minutes
  • 6 pm – 10 pm every 20 minutes 
  • 10 pm – 2 am* every 30 minutes 

Saturday 

  • 8 am – 10 pm every 20 minutes 
  • 10 pm – 2 am* every 30 minutes 

Sunday 

  • 8 am – 8 pm* every 20 minutes 

*Start time for last trip of the day

 

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Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for Tucsoncitizen.com for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, www.southernazjapan.org (since Jan. 2013).