Tucson streetcar set to open in target July date - Tucson News Now

Tucson streetcar still set to open in July

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The City of Tucson has about four months to get the downtown streetcar system in shape for the public.

A Transportation Department official said the streetcar is still on-track to open in its target date this July.

Meantime, supporters of the streetcar are already pointing out its projected benefits. The Friends of Tucson Streetcar hosted its second streetcar celebration event on 4th Avenue near 6th and 7th streets Wednesday.

The event invited the public to visit surrounding businesses and enjoy discounts from various 4th Avenue bars and retails shops.

As for what the streetcar system will cost the city, Transportation Deputy Director Carlos de Leon said it will cost about $4.5 million to operate the streetcar each year.

Fares expect to cover about $1 million; the Regional Transportation Authority expects to cover another $1.2 to $2 million, and the rest will be covered by the city's general fund, which is based mainly on sales taxes, according to De Leon.

De Leon said they're looking into advertising sales and naming rights on the streetcar for extra revenue options.

Arizona State Senator Steve Farley (D-District 9) said the economic gains from the city's investment are worth the cost.

"We've already seen almost a billion dollars in private development invested within three blocks of a four-mile streetcar route in the worst recession we've ever had. No one's building except for along the streetcar route because they see that as a place to invest," Farley said.

Members of Friends of Tucson Streetcar said that any transportation project is going to be expensive.

"People tend to forget that. They see the price tag on a fixed rail project and they don't realize how much they really all spend on building highways and maintaining highways and streets," said Joy Herr-Cardillo.

As it currently stands, the cost of riding the streetcar one-way will be $1.50, the same as a single-way base fare for riding the Sun Tran city bus.

Changes to the streetcar fare hinge on whether the city council approves a proposal to raise the bus fare by 25 cents. The proposal is in the public comment stage. A final decision is expected in June, according to De Leon.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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