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Streetcar ridership on track: 13k over 4 days

In the first four days of paid ridership, nearly 13,000 Tucsonans jumped aboard the new Sun Link streetcar system. Last weekend, some 60,000 took advantage of three days of free rides on the four-mile route. Officials said the fares were just less than projections, but cautioned that ridership should be judged over time.
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14 comments on this story

1
1770 comments
Jul 30, 2014, 9:29 am
-5 +2

I took my niece out on the choo choo train Monday night. I deliberately waited until the fares started because I didn’t want to fight the massive crowds of deadbeats looking for free rides. I’ll share my experience…

I got downtown at about 7. To my pleasant surprise, I didn’t have too much difficulty finding a parking spot near the Broadway/Stone stop.

I purchased the passes from the kiosk. I was irritated that, if I were to pay by cash, that I needed exact change. I thought technology had advanced to the point where vending machines can dispense change now. Anyway, I went with my debit card, instead. On the display, I just saw “SUNGO”, all caps, no spaces. I thought this was some foreign word and that I didn’t hit “English” on the kiosk. It wasn’t until the passes were dispensed that I found out they meant “Sun Go”.

The sign at the stop said the choo choo train ran every 20 minutes between the hours of 6pm and 10pm. I can tell you with certainty that isn’t correct. My niece and I waited roughly half an hour. The gentleman who was at the stop when my niece and I got there said he had been there about 10 minutes before we showed up.

Once I got on, it was three quarters full. There was not one, but two uniformed cops on board. I thought “wow, so much security”. Anyway, I tried to tap my card…and then informed that one of the fare taking machines or whatever they are was broken. $197m and the thing is already broken on day one? Really?

We rode eastbound all the way to near UMC (I had always thought it was going all the way to UMC) and then back until we got off Fourth Avenue near Bison Whiches, where I took my niece to eat.

The niece and I got done eating around 9pm. I looked at my watch when I saw the westbound choo choo train go by, and it said straight up 9pm. I thought, OK, we got until around 9:20pm to get to the stop to get the next one…well, it was already almost 9:30, and the westbound choo choo train hadn’t shown up yet. The eastbound one was there, so we just decided to hop on that and ride it all the way around. I kept my eye out for the westbound one, and we didn’t see it until the bend in the route near 4th and University. Had we stayed at the stop at 4th and 9th street, we wouldn’t have seen the choo choo train until 9:40p, at the earliest. 
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2
1770 comments
Jul 30, 2014, 9:30 am
-5 +1

(...continued)

Sunlink really needs to get this interval frequency thing either in compliance with their signs, or change the signs. Misleading the public like this to make them think that it actually runs every 20 minutes when it doesn’t is inexcusable. I could forgive a five minute discrepancy, but roughly 15 minutes, and twice in one night…there’s just no excuse for that.

It was getting late. I wanted to see the huge dirt lot that the choo choo train went around that’s west of I-10, but I was afraid that it would be after 10pm by that time and the choo choo train wouldn’t bring us back to Broadway and Stone.

My impression of the choo choo train itself…it is a bus. It is longer, there isn’t graffiti (yet), there wasn’t homeless people stinking up the entire car (yet), but it is a bus on tracks. That’s all it is. And, just like the city bus, there are some drivers that give you a smoother ride than others.

A couple of disappointments. First, that the cabin lights were on full-blast between stops. It made seeing outside the windows very difficult. I thought the whole idea was to increase commerce along the route. How can I decide where I’m going to get off the choo choo train and spend money if I can’t see where I’m at and what’s around there?

My other disappointment is in the digital scrolling signs at the choo choo train stops. They worked well, but they were scrolling poetry, and crappy poetry at that. I think a much more useful and productive use of those signs would be to show us the current time, and the ETA of the next choo choo train. Again, commerce…if I know it will be about 15 minutes until the next train shows up, then that will give me time to go into a business and spend a few more bucks, right?

When you consider that about 394 city buses could have been purchased for what this project costs, when the choo choo train itself is essentially a bus, it wasn’t a worthwhile investment. It is not even close. Every time I think of how much of a crosstown freeway could have been built for the same money, it breaks my heart.

Also, a somewhat-related afterthought…Ron Barber was quoted in a recent Sentinel piece covering one of the photo-ops as saying that there has been $800 million of private investment downtown. I’ll admit: I don’t get downtown much. But, after looking around Monday night, I am going to call bullshit on this one. Steamy, creamy, smelly, and plentiful bullshit. I MIGHT consider a fourth of that number, had most of the private development not been confined to just the eastern part of downtown. But, $800 million? Not even close there, Colonel Sanders. I demand he cite a credible source for that number. I would even go so far to say that the choo choo train cost more than the combined total of recent private investment downtown.

3
1770 comments
Jul 30, 2014, 9:35 am
-5 +2

Oops…hit submit too soon, and I can’t edit my own comments. I meant to add that the niece and I, once we were headed westbound, got off at Congress and Stone to head back to my truck parked on Broadway. From near-UMC to where we got off, the had the whole train pretty much to ourselves. No more cops on board. I’m thinking that if there were going to be a need for cops, wouldn’t it be late at night instead of mid-evening?

4
343 comments
Jul 31, 2014, 9:36 am
-1 +5

Really Mr Linden…most people have been very happy with the “choo choo” train.  And most people have found that it runs fairly often…more often than the busses.. it is more comfortable and I found it much more convenient for traveling along the route which actually made sense. Maybe you should rent yourself a limo if you don’t like riding with the res of us riff raff

5
1770 comments
Jul 31, 2014, 9:42 am
-4 +2

Cactus Dave opined:

Really Mr Linden…most people have been very happy with the “choo choo” train…

Please cite a reference.

I have been reading quite a bit of opposition to the choo choo train since the whole fiasco started. What are the odds that every single person opposed to the choo choo train aired their grievances with it on the internet, while only a miniscule of supporters posted about their support? My guess: not too good.

With all the fluff from last Friday, I was told that about 17,000 people turned out for the festivities. As of last year, over half a million people live in the city limits. That’s about 3.5% of the Tucson population…which is appropriate, because that’s about the amount of the population that will ever get any productive use out of the choo choo train.

6
343 comments
Jul 31, 2014, 10:06 am
-1 +4

It has been a lot more than 17,000. In fact on Saturday alone there were 25,000 riders… and people are tired of the Jon Justice type crap that denounces everything the city does. Maybe all your teapartiers who hate this city and hate minorities should move to Idaho. And btw since the streetcar started running most of the people who have been denouncing it have been relatively quiet. And guess what it has been built the money has been spent why would you want it to fail…kind
of immature on your part

7
1770 comments
Jul 31, 2014, 10:31 am
-3 +4

Cactus Dave wrote:

It has been a lot more than 17,000. In fact on Saturday alone there were 25,000 riders… and people are tired of the Jon Justice type crap that denounces everything the city does. Maybe all your teapartiers who hate this city and hate minorities should move to Idaho. And btw since the streetcar started running most of the people who have been denouncing it have been relatively quiet. And guess what it has been built the money has been spent why would you want it to fail…kind
of immature on your part

Wow…not wanting to waste tax money on a bus on tracks somehow relates to the tea party, hating minorities, and hating this city. OK, I’ll give that theory all the attention and consideration it deserves.

8
343 comments
Jul 31, 2014, 10:51 am
-2 +3

I read your other comments and you fit that to a T…

9
1770 comments
Jul 31, 2014, 11:36 am
-3 +3

Cactus Dave asserted:

I read your other comments and you fit that to a T…

Again, I’ll ask you to cite a reference.

10
1770 comments
Jul 31, 2014, 11:42 am
-5 +4

Officials said the paid fares were just less than projections, but cautioned that ridership should be judged over time.

There is a lesson in that for the local media, the Tucson Sentinel included.

The Sentinel’s coverage of the choo choo train has been nearly-daily. The ADS has something like five articles today. The TV has been all over this thing, too. It is getting out of hand…

It launched. All the opening pomp and circumstance has been concluded, It is gonna cost ya if you want to ride it now. Let’s just all take a breath and wait a month or so for meaningful data to add up before this issue is revisited again. Whether you’re a proponent of this thing, or an opponent like I am, it really is too soon to tell…well, anything at this point.

11
4 comments
Aug 1, 2014, 10:56 am
-1 +3

Brett, you must sit at home, watching the Tucson Sentinel website while hitting the F5 key on your keyboard. Once a Streetcar article pops up, you get all excited and make post after post about how much of a failure it will be.

I work downtown and I have used the Streetcar a few times and overall it has been a pleasant experience. Anecdotal for sure, but the response from people I have talked with was overwhelmingly positive. Time will tell whether is will be a huge success or a failure, but your responses don’t reflect the current reality.

Additionally, cut back on the “Choo Choo Train” label. The humor in the joke left long ago and you use it too much.

12
1770 comments
Aug 1, 2014, 11:21 am
-5 +2

dsmith25 reported:

Time will tell whether is will be a huge success or a failure, but your responses don’t reflect the current reality.
Additionally, cut back on the “Choo Choo Train” label. The humor in the joke left long ago and you use it too much.

First of all, the only thing Cactus Dave got right in his posts was that I use the choo choo train label to belittle the project, because that is what it deserves.

Second, my responses in this thread not reflecting the current reality…that was what I experienced first-hand. I saw it, I lived it. Are you or Cactus Dave or some others really going to sit there and try to convince me that what I experienced first-hand wasn’t really what happened? I don’t understand…maybe you can tell me what exactly it is that I posted here isn’t true. Are my numbers wrong? Did I misquote someone somewhere? Help me out here.

The only thing I typed here that could reasonably be considered subjective is that this project was a horrible waste of money, once that could have been purchased for FAR less had the city better leaders. And, you’re right, time will tell whether or not that’s correct. But, as to everything else I typed…what exactly didn’t reflect the current reality?

13
343 comments
Aug 1, 2014, 7:07 pm
-1 +3

Brett can’t help it ...he listens to Tucson’s number one right wing brainless zombie Jon Justice..Do you even live in Tucson Bret?

14
1770 comments
Aug 1, 2014, 10:07 pm
-4 +1

Cactus Dave got up on a soapbox and yelled:

Brett can’t help it ...he listens to Tucson’s number one right wing brainless zombie Jon Justice..Do you even live in Tucson Bret?

No, not at all. I am really in Portland, and just confused the streetcar here for the one down there in Tucson. SMH.

Take off the tin-foil hat and start working on your logic, your reason, and your reading comprehension skills. All three of those things can use A LOT of work.

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