Plan to plunk down $5 to park in four of six University of Arizona garages during this weekend’s Tucson Festival of Books.
For the first time since the festival debuted in 2009, UA will charge to park in the Cherry Avenue, Sixth Street, Tyndall Avenue and Main Gate garages.
Parking in University of Arizona surface lots and the Park Avenue and Highland Avenue garages will be free during the festival.
As during all past festivals, the Second Street garage will be reserved for presenting authors and sponsors; there will be no public access.
The festival, which attracts about 400 authors and 100,000 book lovers, will be held 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and March 13, on the University of Arizona Mall and in adjacent buildings. Admission to the festival is is free.
Charging at the four garages will help defray some of the UA staff and labor costs incurred during the book festival, said David Heineking, executive director of UA Parking and Transportation Services. Heineking said he did not know how much UA expected to collect because the number and frequency of cars entering and exiting the garages was unknown.
With free parking available in two garages and surface lots, the parking fee at the four garages is not expected to have a serious impact on access to the festival, festival officials have said. UA Spring Break begins Saturday, March 12, so festival visitors will not be competing for parking spaces with students.
In addition, free Cat Tran service will be shuttling festival-goers from the Park and Highland garages and peripheral surface lots during the festival, Heineking said.
The shuttle will circulate north of Speedway, with stops near both the Park Avenue and Highland Avenue garages, and surface lots near Cherry Avenue and Speedway, he said. Cat Tran also will pick up passengers south of East Sixth Street, with a stop on Seventh Street near the surface lots and UA recreation center.
To make parking as convenient as possible, the festival offers the following tips:
- If you choose to park in one of the four garages that are charging, the $5 will be collected upon entry, so have cash available. There is no charge after 4 p.m. each day.
- A UA disabled-parking permit is not needed on weekends. However, to park in a handicapped space, you must have the required state permit.
- Do not park in the nearby neighborhoods (you’ll risk a ticket), at meters covered with blue bags, or in fire zones.
The Sun Link streetcar and Sun Tran buses, as well as carpooling, are alternative methods to get to the festival.
All of Sun Link’s 23 stops along its 3.9-mile-long route lead to the UA. A one-way full fare is $1.50, with discounts and day passes available. Sun Link does not accept cash fares. Go to sunlinkstreetcar.com for more information.
During the festival the UA Mall will be closed to bus traffic. Passengers can board Routes 9, 15 and 20 on Campbell Avenue near the UA Mall entrance, Sun Tran says.
Fare is $1.50 and cash is accepted on Sun Tran buses. The Sun Tran website — suntran.com — shows route options to the festival. Or call 792-9222.
Children 5 and younger can ride Sun Link or Sun Tran free with a paying passenger.
The UA and the Arizona Daily Star are the book festival sponsors.