Modern streetcar gets first daytime test run - Tucson News Now

Modern streetcar gets first daytime test run

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday morning, a piece of history for downtown Tucson as the modern streetcar made its first daytime trek onto Fourth Avenue.

"It is a big day -- it's a milestone for us," says Carlos de Leon, deputy transportation director for the modern streetcar. "This is the first-time we're doing operator training."

It's only the first car and just four of the fleet's 18 operators have been hired so far, but this is pretty exciting news for downtown Tucson.

"It's great to see it up and running. I hope it pans out," says Glenn Weyant, who watched as the streetcar pulled out of the gates at Sun Link Operation and Maintenance facility.  "I hope the nay sayers are proven wrong and I hope there's more of it."

There may be more someday, but for now the $200 million project is limited to a four-mile loop around Fourth Avenue and University Blvd.

Great news to businesses like the fourth Avenue Delicatessen.

"I can't wait til it's something we see all the time here on the avenue," says deli owner Austin Counts.

So much, they've even named a sub sandwich -- "The Streetcar" -- after the city's newest attraction.

"To have a modern streetcar that can bring people from all over the city and definitely from the UA area and connect them to the downtown area and the Fourth Avenue area with businesses...that's very essential to keep this area going in recessionary times," Counts says.

For the next two days, it's going to seem like the streetcar is fully operational. You'll see it running up and down Fourth Avenue, but you can't get on it -- you can only watch.

That's because everything happening now and the foreseeable future is for training purposes only.

To get operators familiar with the public.

And to the get you familiar with the modern streetcar.

"You know it's sleek, it's neat. I think it's a good use of revenue," Weyant says, looking forward to the streetcar's summer of 2014 grand opening.  "You won't have to worry about parking your car and you can have a few beers and not worry about the cops."

As we said, what we're seeing today for the foreseeable future with the streetcar usage are only tests.

City officials really need the public's help with this.

If you drive up on the streetcar just be patient and don't try to pass.

The streetcar is eleven feet tall, so you're not going to be able to see around it.

If you try to pass you're only going to put yourself and other people in harm's way.

Copyright 2013 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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