No injuries in collision involving streetcar

No injuries in collision involving streetcar

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - There have been six minor traffic accidents involving the Sun Link streetcar since it began carrying passengers in July.

The latest happened Monday at the intersection of Broadway Boulevard and Fifth Avenue downtown.

Tucson News Now found that four of the six collisions were the fault of drivers on the road and two were the fault of the streetcar operators.

None involved pedestrians or bicyclists.

They all have been minor crashes with no one getting hurt.

In Monday's collision, a Sun Link spokesman says, the driver of the SUV got a ticket. The streetcar damage is considered cosmetic, with a cracked fiberglass bumper cover. The streetcar continued on its route.

The modern streetcar is relatively new to Tucson and some drivers are still getting used to it.

"I work down here so I saw them doing the whole testing and everything and I saw a lot of accidents almost happen while they were doing that and I think It's just people have to get used to it. I mean their signals, everything is pretty well laid out," says Tucsonan Tobias Veron.

James Wood says, "I guess it's kind of made its way into everybody's mindset that we're going to have a streetcar around so people are starting to get the idea they have to kind of pay attention a little bit more."

Gloria Duran wonders about just how the streetcar operates. "Sometimes I'm at a stop light and I just see it keep going and I'm like are they on their own?"

Yes, they sort of are on their own. There are a few things the streetcars do differently than other traffic.

We asked a Sun Link spokesman what, in particular, might be confusing to drivers and others.

Broadway and Fifth Avenue is one of three intersections where all traffic gets a red light to let the streetcar pass through.

"At certain intersections the streetcar will be the only vehicle going through the intersection, using its own signal," says Sun Link Safety and Security Officer Marwan Al-Mukhtar. "Do not follow the streetcar when you see the streetcar going through the intersection unless you have a green light."

Another problem is jaywalkers, bicyclists and cars cutting in front of the streetcars.

"Do not cut the streetcar if you're a pedestrian or on a bicycle or an automobile because that vehicle is pretty heavy and it does not stop on a dime," Al-Mukhtar says.

He says an empty streetcar weighs 70,000 pounds.

"If you're around the streetcar, please make sure you follow the traffic laws, the traffic lights, the signage that says, if the streetcar is at the station, do not pass the streetcar," Al-Mukhtar says.

That happens on streets that have one lane in each direction, such as Fourth Avenue and on University Blvd. There's not enough room for a car to safely go around the streetcar when it's stopped at a station to pick up and let off passengers.

You can get a ticket if you pass the streetcar.

Al-Mukhtar says there are fewer parking problems than there were at first. That's where people park their cars in a red zone or too far into the street and they block the streetcar. Each parallel parking space along the streetcar route is clearly marked with a box. Drivers must make sure the entire car or truck is inside the box. Blocking the streetcar will result in a citation.

The two streetcar operators who were at fault in two of the accidents "did not follow procedure," according to Sun Link which says the operators were disciplined and retrained.

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