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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA, Tucson at odds about financial contribution to streetcar

Gabriela Diaz
Gabriela Diaz / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Streetcar construction is still ongoing on The University of Arizona campus. There are discrepancies between the councilman and the university regarding whether or not the UA is contributing enough to the Streetcar construction.

The UA is failing to pay its fair share of streetcar construction costs, city leaders say.

Although the Tucson Modern Streetcar might not be operational until 2014, the UA has contributed by offering students subsidized SunLink passes, collaborated with the streetcar management team on marketing and giving input on the design of the routes. However, Tucson City Councilman of Ward 6 Steve Kozachik said those contributions aren’t enough and the UA should contribute more financially.

“I think the university is a direct stakeholder in the success of the streetcar and for that reason they should be contributing a fairly substantial amount of money to its success,” Kozachik said. “Giving away reduced fare passes to me does not even begin to address the value that the streetcar has to the university.”

Kozachik said the streetcar is expected to cost $4 million to $5 million in operations and management every year.

In terms of financial contributions, Jaime Gutierrez, vice president of external relations at the UA, said the subsidized bus passes the UA offers to students costs the UA $300,000, with that money coming from parking fees.

“We’re figuring that it’s probably going to cost another $300,000 for streetcar passes,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said he expect the UA to benefit from a streetcar subsidy as 3,100 students and faculty have used the discount for bus passes this year. The hope is that students living in housing along the streetcar line won’t bring their car since the streetcar will be so close, Gutierrez said.

“Throughout this whole planning period we’re letting the city use [a lot] of our space that we have, like for electrical boxes,” Gutierrez said. “You’ll notice that there will be a lot of the equipment on the UA campus and I think that’s really what the partnership is all about. We want this to succeed. We need the streetcar to succeed for everybody’s benefit.”

Michael Graham, spokesman for the Department of Transportation for the city of Tucson, wouldn’t comment on the UA’s relationship with the streetcar though he said the dialogue is ongoing.
The city of Tucson will also be able to market on campus for streetcar passes during summer orientation or on the UA Mall, according to Gutierrez.

“We’ll see how we can help them out in terms of spreading the word about the streetcar and really, the benefits the streetcar brings to students,” Gutierrez said. “If I was a parent of an incoming freshman, I would seriously, hopefully look at the streetcar as an option…”

The contributions are not set in stone and the UA is still in current discussion with the city of Tucson, according to Gutierrez.

“Clearly I think our commitment is to continue the subsidy program at a 50 percent level, to help them out in terms of marketing, and to help them out, as I’ve said we’ve already helped them out with our staff people meeting with them, making sure the routes are perfect, making sure the electrical boxes are placed correctly,” Gutierrez said. “They may have some needs that changed and we’ll be there to see if we can help them.”

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