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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Like any sprawling town, Tucson has a frustrating relationship with public transportation. We love the idea of it, but it’s difficult to make it work.

    That said, we’re pleased to hear that Tucson’s dynamic centerÿmade up of the UA campus, downtown and Fourth Avenue will be tied together with the arrival of a new, modernized streetcar. The air-conditioned electric car, essentially a light-rail train, is set to take its first trip Nov. 11, 2011.

    With the city facing a projected $80 million deficit, this might sound like a potential boondoggle. But the car is a good idea. It’s certainly a wiser investment than the much-ballyhooed downtown redevelopment project, designed largely to make the city more “”tourist-friendly.”” This development is aimed not at tourists, but at us.

    With 19 stops and a promised maximum 10-minute wait for rides, it would be faster than the SunTran system, and offer an environmentally sound alternative to driving. More persuasively, it would lead to a livelier, more active community and encourage business growth.

    As every student of city planning knows, development follows transportation. Phoenix got its light rail car last year, and it’s generated more than $6 billion in private development around the route so far, according to Republican Steve Farley, D-Tucson. Fran LaSala, assistant to the city manager, told the Daily Wildcat that the car will return $7 for every dollar put into it.

    Some of the rail’s proponents have seen in it a potential tool for reviving Tucson’s downtown, suggesting that it will make it easier for residents to travel downtown for dinner. While this sounds like a laudable-enough goal, downtown’s relative dearth of restaurants makes it rather redundant at the moment. But increasing downtown traffic could also encourage more stores to open.

    In truth, the light rail will probably largely be a benefit to UA students, who will be able to ride it for free as part of their U-Pass if Parking and Transportation Services is able to work out a suitable deal with the city. The air conditioning and free wireless access would probably also be a considerable draw for students.

    It’s too soon to say whether this development could help boost the city out of its economic slump, let alone whether it could help lead to a revitalized Tucson. But it’s a promising start.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Cody Calamaio, Justyn Dillingham, Taylor Kessinger, Heather Price-Wright, and Nickolas Seibel.

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