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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Sun Link Modern Streetcar has potential to liven up Tucson nightlife

    The Sun Link Tucson Modern Streetcar is exciting. Much like ASU’s METRO Light Rail, students will finally have a quick and easy way to get around hotspots like campus, Fourth Avenue and downtown.

    Of course, the streetcar had best be prepared for the droves of drunks expecting to use its services on a nightly basis.

    Yes, anyone who knows a handful of college students and has a brain can tell that the Sun Link’s biggest night-time demographic will be drinking students. It will be cheaper and involve much less hassle than taxis, getting rides from friends or the (highly ill-advised) “I’m OK to drive, even if I had nine drinks” method.

    Local businesses are also most likely banking on this fact, hoping that a finished streetcar will ramp their patronage up big time, especially after taking huge hits from all the construction.

    But how late will the streetcar operate each night? Is it going to be late enough to pick up students after last call and get them where they need to go? Can it accommodate the large number of people who will want to be on that last ride out? Will drunken patrons be turned away because they’re intoxicated? And, importantly for the underage majority of students, will it be a trap for getting MIPs?

    The answers to these questions better be: very late, yes, yes, no and no, or else students aren’t going to use the streetcar half as much as the people planning it would expect.

    If students aren’t using the streetcar, all of that construction will have been for nothing, and businesses are going to have lost out on a serious amount of money for nothing.

    It is, however, unfair to say that the Sun Link will only be used by students going to and from parties. That is far from the case. It’s a highly useful resource for getting around, and it will be used frequently by everyday sober people just trying to get from point A to point B.

    But think about how many people go out on any given weekend — or even during the week. That’s money that could be going to the streetcar and the businesses downtown from people who normally worry about wasting gas, the hassle of driving in Tucson and how expensive cabs can be.
    Plus, if it does run late but turns away the heavily intoxicated, there’s still a problem. Another great thing about the streetcar is that it’s a safe way for people to get around, and drunken students aren’t known to be the safest people in the world. It keeps them off the sidewalks and roads where they really shouldn’t be regardless of how much traffic there is.

    And while the law tells us that underage drinking is bad, it’s far worse to have young students, who will likely find a way to drink regardless of any preventative measures, making stupid and unsafe transportation mistakes because they don’t think they have another choice.

    If there are cops staking out these stops to hunt for underage drinkers, it’s going to keep them out of a safer environment and put them at a greater risk for danger.

    Granted, it is still early on in the construction process, and there are a lot of unknowns concerning the Sun Link, but these are issues the people in charge of the project will have to ask themselves eventually.

    — Jason Krell is the copy chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at
    letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @Jason_Krell

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