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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tucson’s public transportation will benefit from growth

    Tucson is growing, folks, and there isn’t much we can do to stop it. The Rio Nuevo project, if it is ever realized, will expand downtown. Meanwhile, a little further north, the streetcar construction marks the beginnings of our very own big-city transportation system.

    Unfortunately, the streetcar does not take things far enough, in vision or distance. Since public policy makers seem bent on turning Tucson into a major U.S. city with business headquarters, sports teams and public transportation, they need to fully commit. As it stands, the streetcar connects the north side of downtown Tucson to just north of the University of Arizona. This leaves out highly populated and vital areas such as South Tucson and the Foothills.

    While it is true that every major city has a permanent form of public transportation, it is also true that every large American city has permanent public transportation with multiple lines.
    Tucson has chosen to follow in the footsteps of Portland, Ore., a similarly sized city with a single-line streetcar that runs along a 4-mile stretch, mostly along the city’s waterfront. It is part-public transportation, part-tourist attraction.

    But perhaps the city should choose to follow Denver’s lead instead. The Colorado capital holds only about 80 thousand more people than Tucson, but utilizes a light rail system with five lines, connecting a total of 35 stations across the city. It has worked out favorably for Denver, which was credited with having the best public transportation in America by U.S. News and World Report in early 2011.

    Tucson should also consider the technological possibilities of a truly modern transportation system. Last year, San Francisco, Calif. became the first U.S. city to offer Wi-Fi on all light rail cars. The system is aimed toward commuters with smartphones or laptops who need something to do on their commutes. The Tucson streetcar appeals to a similar demographic, so one would figure that riders would want their transportation to be technologically friendly.

    — Tyler Johnson is a journalism senior. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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