Long-Anticipated Streetcar Opens In Downtown Tucson

By Kate Sheehy
Published: Friday, July 25, 2014 - 6:11pm
Updated: Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 5:05am
(Photo by Kate Sheehy)
Lots of people gathered downtown for the streetcar's inaugural trip down the tracks.
(Photo by Kate Sheehy)
The University of Arizona Pep Band performs at the dedication of the Tucson streetcar.
(Photo by Kate Sheehy)
People board a packed streetcar at the Tucson Convention Center stop.
(Photo by Kate Sheehy)
The streetcar makes its way down the track to pick up its first group of people.

There’s a new way to get around downtown Tucson. The city’s streetcar started running Friday.

There are eight streetcars that connect the University of Arizona with the downtown area. Plans for the $200 million project have been years in the making.

People waited in the hot sun for the first streetcar to start giving rides. As the modern trolley started its inaugural trip down the tracks, the University of Arizona Pep Band played as it glided through the crowds lining the sidewalks.

Arizona State Senator Steve Farley was visibly excited. He has been instrumental in bringing the streetcar to downtown Tucson. He says the streetcar is an example of Tucson’s development and potential.

“We’re only the 5th streetcar city in the country now," Farley said. "But the cities come and look at us as a role model. It’s unusual for us to have other people looking up and saying, 'We want to be like Tucson.' But it’s great, look at us as a model, we’re an amazing city."

Tim Fennie watched a few streetcars go by the stop at 6th and Congress that were too full to let more riders on.

“It’s kind of hot to be waiting outside for it for a long period, but I’m excited, I guess that’s just more of it, I’m anxious to get on and try it,” Fennie said.

Finally a streetcar with room pulled up and the anxious line of people began cheering.

One of the riders was Eleanor Leon. She’s a local artist and has a shop downtown called La Fashionista. She is looking forward to the positive economic impact she believes the trolley will have on downtown businesses.

“I have waited patiently for a year and half, this is the day that I ride this modern streetcar and have people drive right by my shop,” Leon said.

Jen Maney works downtown and her husband works at the University. She said the streetcar will make it easier for her and her husband to meet up during the day for lunch or after work. She said she’s also looking forward to not driving as much when she needs to run errands.

“I’m heading to a haircut and I parked down at the library, and so I don’t have to take my car to the haircut on 4th avenue, it’ll be awesome,” Maney said.

With free rides throughout the weekend, it seems like many people will be testing out the streetcar to get to their favorite downtown spots and possibly discovering something new.

The streetcar line is nearly 4 miles long. The fare will be $1.50 one way or $4 for an all-day pass.

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