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Sun Link

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Sun Link

Type Streetcar
Status Operational
Locale Tucson, Arizona, United States
Termini Arizona Health Sciences Center
Mercado District
Stations 22 (17 per direction)
Daily ridership 5,000[1]
Opening July 25, 2014[2][3]
Owner City of Tucson
Operator(s) RATP Dev McDonald Transit[4]
Rolling stock United Streetcar 200 (8 cars)[5][6]
Line length 3.9 miles (6.3 km)[7]
Route map
Health Sciences
Helen & Warren
2nd St. & Cherry
University of Arizona
2nd St. & Highland
2nd St. & Olive
Main Gate Square
University & Tyndall
University & 3rd Ave.
4th Ave. & 5th St.
Tucson High School
4th Ave. & 7th St.
4th Ave. & 9th St.
Toole & 4th Ave.
Congress & 6th Ave.
Broadway & 6th Ave.
Congress & Stone
Broadway & Stone
Congress & Church
Broadway & Church
Congress & Granada
Convention Center
Granada & Cushing
Cushing & Frontage
Santa Cruz River
Linda & Cushing
Cushing & Convento
Convento & Congress

Source: Sun Link Project Map[8]

Sun Link, also known as the Tucson Streetcar, is a single-line streetcar system in Tucson, Arizona, United States that began service in July 2014.[2][3][9] The system's 3.9-mile (6.3 km) route connects the Arizona Health Sciences Center (including University Medical Center), the University of Arizona campus, the Main Gate and 4th Avenue shopping and entertainment districts, downtown Tucson, the Tucson Convention Center, and the Mercado District under development west of Interstate 10.[7][10] The streetcar project's overall cost of $196 million was met through a combination of local funding sources and federal grants.[11][12]


In May 2006 Pima County voters approved a $2.1 billion, 20-year regional transportation plan which included $75 million toward construction of a modern streetcar and an additional $12.7 million toward its operation. In December 2010, a $63 million federal TIGER grant was awarded to the City of Tucson, meeting most of the remaining funding gap and allowing the project to move forward. An additional $6 million of federal funding was obtained through the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts program. Funding has also come from utilities for relocation and improvements along the streetcar route, most significantly $10.6 million from Tucson Water.[12][13]


Construction began in April 2012[14] and continued through summer 2013. A $56 million contract for removal of existing roadway, utility relocation, installation of track, resurfacing, and construction of the system's 21 covered, accessible stops was awarded to Old Pueblo Trackworks, a joint venture of Granite Construction and RailWorks Track Systems, in March 2012.[15]

Work was carried out in two phases. Phase 1 addressed straight sections of the route east of the Congress and Granada stop and required rolling closures of sections of Congress Street, Broadway Boulevard, 4th Avenue, University Boulevard, 2nd Street, the Warren Avenue underpass, and Helen Street.[16] Phase 2 began in November 2012 and included all work west of the convention center, corner sections requiring fabrication of curved track elements, and additional work on Broadway and the Warren underpass.[10] The system was completed and opened on July 25, 2014.[2][3]


A Tucson Sun Link streetcar at the 3rd and University station.

Sun Link maintains a fleet of eight United Streetcar 200s, using up to six cars at once. Tucson placed an initial $26 million order for seven cars in June 2010.[5] The eighth car was ordered for an additional $3.6 million in July 2012 in order to satisfy FTA requirements for a second spare.[6] United's first model 200 car arrived in Tucson by flatbed truck on August 30, 2013.[17]


The United Streetcar 200 is a 66-foot long, double-ended (bi-directional), electric rail vehicle, articulated into three sections. The center section floor is at platform height for accessibility with two double-door entrances on each side for low dwell times. Each side of the car has a third passenger door located behind the operator cab. Propulsion is provided by four 90-kW motors drawing power via pantograph from an overhead line. The streetcar has a maximum speed of 43.5 mph (70 km/h) and a capacity of 156 passengers (29 seated and 127 standing).[18]

The 200 model is largely identical to the United Streetcar 100, built for the Portland Streetcar system, the only major difference being that the 200 is equipped with upgraded air-conditioning.[18] The design of the 100 model itself is based on the Czech-made Škoda 10 T.[19]

Production delays

Delays in production of the streetcars pushed Sun Link's projected start of service from a forecast of late 2013 as of the start of construction[12] to July 2014.[11] Tucson officials notified United Streetcar in May 2013 of their intention to assess contractual damages for late delivery, which start at $250 and increase over time to $1,800 per day, per vehicle, up to a maximum penalty of $2.9 million.[20][21]

Associated projects

Operations & Maintenance Facility

The Sun Link Operations & Maintenance Facility is centered on the system route at 5th Avenue and 8th Street. Construction of the eight million-dollar facility began in May 2012 and concluded in August 2013.[11][22] A public open house and celebration of the first streetcar's delivery with speeches from officials including Tucson mayor Jonathan Rothschild and state senator Steve Farley, a longtime advocate of the streetcar, was held on September 6, 2013.[23][24]

Cushing Street extension and Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge

The 320-foot Luis G. Gutierrez Bridge takes streetcar, automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic across the Santa Cruz on Cushing Street, which was extended from the I-10 frontage road to Avenida del Convento in 2012. The bridge opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic in fall 2012.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Dorf, Alison (September 24, 2014). "Tucson Streetcar Ridership Exceeds Expectations". Arizona Public Media (Arizona Board of Regents). 
  2. ^ a b c "Tucson Streetcar Debuts to Crowds, Hot Weather". Arizona Public Media (Arizona Board of Regents). July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Taylor, Rebecca (July 26, 2014). Tremendous' opening day for Sun Link Streetcar"'".  
  4. ^ Pallack, Becky (December 5, 2012). "Management deal for streetcar costs $2.5M for 3 years".  
  5. ^ a b "Tucson to United Streetcar: Build seven".  
  6. ^ a b DaRonco, Darren (July 13, 2012). "Backup streetcar to cost Tucson $3.6M". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved September 27, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Why do we need a streetcar? – The streetcar route". Sun Link Tucson Streetcar. Retrieved July 26, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Sun Link Project Map – Full Route". March 27, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Tucson Envisions The Sun Link".  
  10. ^ a b Barnes, Bethany (March 7, 2012). "Streetcar construction starts in April; here's what you need to know". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c "Sun Link Tucson Streetcar Project FTA Quarterly Review" (pdf). Sun Link. March 28, 2013. p. 10. 
  12. ^ a b c Vitu, Teya. "Streetcar Construction Will Start in Late April", Downtown Tucsonan, March, 2012. Retrieved on April 30, 2012.
  13. ^ O'Dell, Rob (December 29, 2010). "US grants Tucson $63M for streetcar". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  14. ^ Seberger, Will (April 12, 2012). "City breaks ground on Modern Streetcar". Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  15. ^ Bowen, Douglas John (March 30, 2012). "Joint venture awarded Tucson streetcar contract". Railway Age. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 
  16. ^ Jackman, Janet Rose (April 9, 2012). "City to celebrate streetcar as Congress St. closes". Retrieved April 27, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Truck delivers first new streetcar to Tucson from Ore. manufacturing plant; total of 8 planned". The Republic (Associated Press). August 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "United Streetcar Options". United Streetcar. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  19. ^ Schmidt, Brad (April 20, 2013). "Oregon streetcars: Money flows despite missed deadlines, cost overruns". The Oregonian. 
  20. ^ DaRonco, Darren (May 7, 2013). "Assess penalties for late streetcars now, some council members say". Arizona Daily Star. 
  21. ^ Benito, Marcelino (May 1, 2013). "Cashing in: Streetcar delays could deliver dollars to City of Tucson".  
  22. ^ Vitu, Teya (October 2011). "4th Avenue Open During Storm Drainage Work". Downtown Tucsonan. Retrieved May 1, 2012. 
  23. ^ Ferguson, Joe (September 4, 2013). "Streetcar "celebration" set for Friday". Arizona Daily Star. 
  24. ^ Salzwedel, Sam (September 6, 2013). "Hundreds see official unveiling of Streetcar and facility".  
  25. ^ Pallack, Becky (September 8, 2012). "Bridge art spotlights history". Arizona Daily Star. 

External links

  • Sun Link official website
  • City of Tucson
  • Regional Transportation Authority
  • Maintenance Design Group
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