July 03 2012

A New Transit Option in Central Tucson, Arizona: The Modern Streetcar

As part of a $2.1 billion Regional Transportation Plan, the modern streetcar project in Tucson, Arizona costs an estimated $196.8 million. The project was approved by Pima County voters in May 2006, and is currently under construction. The 3.9 miles long streetcar line connects the city’s major activity centers including the University of Arizona, Downtown Tucson, and the Rio Nuevo District.

According to RTA (Regional Transportation Authority), the streetcar route connects:

  • 150 retail businesses;
  • 100 restaurants;
  • 15 night clubs;
  • 15 galleries and museums;
  • 7 theaters, and more.

The streetcar route consists of four major segments, which are west of Downtown/I10, Downtown, 4th Avenue/Main Gate, and the University of Arizona. More than 100,000 people (approximately 20% of the city’s population) are living and working within a half-mile of the streetcar route. Central Tucson has a large proportion of college students who are socially active but do not have cars. As one of the public transit alternatives in Tucson, streetcar service will be integrated with Sun Tran and CatTran service. Together, these three public transit options will greatly promote the city’s walkability.

Streetcar Route

Streetcar Route

Now a special streetcar model is being manufactured to accommodate Tucson’s hot climates. It will be equipped with solar panels and other energy efficiency features. With a capacity of up to 180 passengers, the streetcar will reduce vehicle trips on its route; thereby reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emission. Also, the modern streetcar’s Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF) is designed to be “green”, and is anticipated to be certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) New construction Silver, at minimum.

Do you think the Tucsonans will give up driving and switch to this new public transit?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Wanyi Song

Wanyi Song is a graduate research assistant of the University of Arizona in Science of Planning. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Landscape Architecture when she was living in Southern China. After her undergraduate studies, Wanyi worked full-time as a Landscape Designer in China and Singapore. Her interests range from environmental science and GIS technology to architecture and urban design. She enjoys participating in sustainable development projects which integrate green techniques and a sense of aesthetics, to create livable communities as well as to mitigate natural resources conflicts.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 at 5:00 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Infrastructure, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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