A smoker, on the right, lights up at the downtown Ronstadt Transit Center near a bus, but starting July 30, smokers will have to move to specified smoking areas at the Ronstadt, Laos and Tohono Tadai centers.

A small change could make the air a little more breathable at Sun Tran’s three transit centers.

Beginning July 30, Sun Tran will push smokers at the Ronstadt, Laos and Tohono Tadai transit centers to designated smoking areas on the edges of the city-owned properties, banning smoking and vaping everywhere else.

While those centers could someday soon no longer smell like stale cigarettes, the smell of bus fumes will continue to linger after each bus departs.

It’s a policy that isn’t being received warmly by some riders.

On a Saturday morning at the Ronstadt Transit Center, 22-year-old John Crisp enjoyed a hand-rolled cigarette while waiting for the bus.

He was sympathetic to why the city was moving smokers to the edge of the property, but as he looked over his shoulder he was disappointed at the prospect of smoking on an uncovered bench.

“They should at least put up shade,” Crisp said, especially as the policy is being put in place during the peak of triple-digit temperatures.

The new designated smoking areas will include ashtrays and benches. Over the next few months, the city will install shade structures as well.

Steve Spade, the general manager for Sun Tran, says the decision will offer a better experience for the public.

“Encouraging smokers to use the designated areas will allow for a healthier environment at our transit centers and for more people to enjoy riding the bus,” said Spade.

The new policy brings the city in line with pre-existing state law and local ordinances that ban smoking within 20 feet of public entrances, which include bus doors.

The policy will be gradually enforced, with private security and Sun Tran supervisors offering verbal warnings. However, city officials don’t rule out the possibility that police officers could be handing out tickets to uncooperative smokers.

Under state guidelines, such a ticket could include a fine of up to $300.

Down the Road

The Arizona Department of Transportation will close one lane of eastbound Interstate 10 near Wilmot Road overnight between Monday, July 23, and Thursday, July 26. The right lane will be closed each night between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. the following morning.

The restrictions also will force all vehicles over 12 feet wide to detour at the Wilmot Road exit and re-enter I-10 using the on-ramp.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.