Why I ride the Sun Tran bus


Recently at a Sustainable Tucson meeting someone asked how many of us ride the bus in Tucson, and out of about 30 people, only 2 raised their hands (including me). So here’s my thoughts on riding Sun Tran:

  1. No worries about driving in town: it’s actually fairly relaxing to just sit on a bus and let the bus driver worry about the changing lights, pedestrians, motorcycles, traffic signs, construction, etc.
  2. No worries about parking the car/truck: looking and finding parking downtown, plus worrying about having enough $ for the meter or time expiring on the meter are eliminated with bus riding
  3. Environmentally friendly: to ride public transport with lots of other people; supposed to save gas emissions for each car/truck not in use.
  4. Sightseeing: enjoy the sights along the bus route without being distracted by driving
  5. Exercise: walking. It’s easy to leave your house & just get in the car parked in the garage/carport, but it’s definitely better exercise to walk to the bus stop, and walk again to your destination when you get to the end of your bus trip. I definitely walk a lot more when I ride the bus to downtown.
  6. Inexpensive: only $1.50 each way, with a 2 hour transfer. And you can use the Sun Link modern streetcar as well, if you can transfer to that 4 mile route (or vice versa).

For more info on Sun Tran, call 520-792-9222, or go online at www. Suntran.com.

Choose to ride the bus instead of driving your precious car/truck over those ubiquitous Tucson potholes and avoid getting upset. This additional benefit is certainly a relief when you ride the bus and don’t have to worry about the potholes ruining your car.

For all of these benefits, I encourage fellow Tucsonans to ride the bus, at least once a week.

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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).


  1. Rode Sun Tran again today to go downtown to the Pima County Board of Supervisors’ meeting to listen to pros/cons of their vote to put the Bon package of 7 proposals to the voters in November, 2015. Glad I took the bus as the comments/call to the public ran from 10 a.m. to past 1 p.m., so parking the car would have cost a bit of $. I had no worries driving to downtown, no worries about parking (none in fact), and easily got lunch, then caught the bus home. Of course a drawback is that I ride a “local” bus so it made stops at every bus stop on the way home, but I relaxed and felt gratitude instead of frustration. Both buses to & from downtown were on time.

  2. Hi Carolyn,
    I was the other person who raised my hand to your question at the ST meeting. I agree with all your statements, as well as those of Michael S. The best reward for being a “senior citizen (65+ years old)” is the Senior Economy Bus Pass–$15/month! I have an old car (’93 Escort) that I drive as little as possible and prefer to take the bus…especially in summer because my car doesn’t have AC. I also carry my own shade–a UV Protector “sunbrella.” I’m hooked on using the bus.

    • Thanks for commenting Susan since you were also at the ST meeting. I admit I am too dependent on our Toyota, so tomorrow instead of driving my car downtown I am opting for the SunTran bus. And then I don’t have to worry about getting a ticket at the parking meter and I can stay longer for lunch. And so much less stress than driving through the streets of Tucson, and being lucky when a car doesn’t hit you (almost happened last week with driver doing a bad left hand turn).

  3. I changed worksites last year so I could take the express bus to work and back, but I understand why so many people choose not to ride the bus in Tucson:

    – Driving is made artificially cheap by free parking and low taxes on gasoline

    – Every other business in town is an auto dealership, so there’s a lot of competition among car dealers to keep car prices down

    – Tucson’s dry, hot environment is especially conducive to keeping older and cheaper cars on the road, which means the barrier-to-entry for car ownership is quite low

    – Parking lot requirements (1 parking space per every 200 sq. ft. of retail space) make Tucson more spread out than it needs to be (how much space is wasted with El Con Mall’s massive three-quarters-empty parking lot, for example?)

    – Outside of government employees, most people do not travel into downtown Tucson on a regular basis. Tucson’s center of population is much further east than it was before the advent of the automobile era, and east Tucson is basically navigable only by car

    – A lot of regular SunTran stops are unshaded and have no benches, which is unconscionable when for 8 months of the year it is often over 90F

    – Buses run every 30 minutes on weekdays instead of a more reasonable 10-15 minutes. Buses run every 60 minutes on the weekend, when people actually get most of their errands done

    – There is often only one bus line to serve a particular destination

    – Buses are not consistent with being on time, which makes timing transfers very difficult

    – Non-express buses are not well-maintained. Regular buses tend to reek of tobacco and body odor, and the seats are uncomfortable

    – Bus stops are not maintained regularly enough. Bus stops are often littered with everything from Big Gulp cups, fast food leftovers, cigarettes, and used needle/syringes

    There’s a lot of work that has to be done to make SunTran a viable option for transportation for more people. It would require simultaneously making driving more difficult with some form of taxes, user fees, and parking restrictions, as well as making SunTran more attractive by having more bus lines, more convenient times, and improving the buses and bus stops themselves.

    • Thanks Michael S. for your comments. I well know the pitfalls of riding Sun Tran, esp. seeing those bus stops w/o shelters in the sweltering over 100 degree heat of the summer. I fortunately have a bus stop that does have a shelter (lucky) and I’ve advocated strongly in the past that all stops need shelters, to no avail. I’ve pushed my Councilmembers to install bus shelters on busy street intersections. I just want more people to start using Sun Tran, even occasionally. Bus commuters and people with no cars who have to ride Sun Tran know the problems with this SW city and the routes.

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