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Tucson - June 2010

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Tucson ― RTA to Co-Manage Streetcar

Rail Transit Online, June 2010

A management agreement is being finalized that will make Tucson city and the Pima County Regional Transportation Authority equal partners in managing the planned $157-million modern streetcar project.

The arrangement was requested by the Federal Transit Administration and was endorsed by the RTA's directors, according to Executive Director Gary Hayes. "We're the primary investor in the project, and the general attitude of the (RTA) board is that they want to make sure our investment is protected," Hayes told the Arizona Daily Star. The 3.6-mi. (5.8 km) line will connect the University Medical Center, the University of Arizona campus, downtown and the Rio Nuevo cultural center.


Streetcar Opening Delayed 21 Months

Revenue service on Tucson's 3.6-mi. (5.8 km) modern streetcar won't start until at least August 2013, approximately 21 months later than previously announced. The city's transportation department had promised for years that the project would be completed by 11/11/11.

By early 2010 it became clear that the timeline was far too ambitious and the date was changed to early 2012, but by mid- May Transportation Director Jim Glock and Streetcar Project Manager Sheltie Ginn had to admit there was no hope of carrying passengers until the summer of 2013.

The main reason for the delay is that the last of the vehicles Tucson plans to buy from United Streetcar won't be delivered until spring 2013, and will then need several months of extensive testing. Further delays are possible since United is just getting production underway and must first deliver six cars to Portland, Another problem is the rising cost, up from $157 million to an FTA-generated figure of $182 million. That number could be reduced if construction bids come in under estimate and if the city can convince the FTA that it only needs seven streetcars instead of eight.

The order can now be placed because the city council and the Regional Transportation Authority have approved an intergovernmental
agreement for co-management of the project. The deal triggers the release of $46 million from the transit agency for the vehicle purchase: a federal stimulus grant of $63 million has also been approved but won't be received until next year.


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