The Tucson City Council this week is set to again take on the challenge of improving Sun Tran’s finances.
The council will be hard-pressed to make substantive changes to the transit agency, considering the city is already working to cope with a projected $33 million budget shortfall in the coming fiscal year.
In 2012, the city spent roughly $40 million to run the transit service. A study by an outside consultant found Sun Van, the paratransit service for the city, cost $16 million to operate last year, recovering only a fraction of that from its riders.
A proposal, tacitly backed by the council last year to generate more revenue with a 300 percent staggered fare increase for Sun Van riders, was panned. Advocates complained to city leaders about hitting the pocketbook of the poorest riders.
Local activist Brian Flagg and the Bus Riders Union are opposed to the proposed fare increase. They’ve launched a campaign,asking the council to balance the budget without raising the price to ride.
Cuts in existing services are part of the planned discussion on Wednesday. Staffers note that a market-driven, comprehensive operational analysis estimates the city could save about $2 million by making various changes to the 40 bus lines operated by Sun Tran.
Suggestions include realignment of six routes and rerouting another eight, a restructuring of four bus lines and the elimination of Route 108X, the Downtown–Broadway Express. Buses running along portions of the streetcar route also could be altered to avoid duplication of services.
Q: Karen Roberts writes: “At 5:30 a.m. the light at Craycroft and 5th Street doesn’t detect the traffic. If you are heading north or south on Craycroft, you need to wait more than a minute as the light cycles through every option, including the trailing left turn when no one is in the lane.
A: Michael Graham, a spokesperson for the city, said the cameras at Craycroft Road and Fifth Street are one of about 15 malfunctioning overhead cameras throughout the city.
“The cameras are not detecting the presence of vehicles. The traffic signal controller box is set to automatically cycle throughout the day or a fixed period of time whether a vehicle is at the intersection or not,” he said.
He said the city is trying to get funding to replace the cameras.
Down the road
Crews with the Tucson Department of Transportation will begin paving Valencia Road at Houghton Road on Monday.
Valencia Road will be closed to travel from Houghton Road west to Frost Drive. The paving work is set to be completed in one day. Work hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Those needing access to Valencia Road west of Frost Drive are asked to use Rita to Nexus roads.