Modern Streetcar turning into another City boondoggle

Tucson’s “Desire Named Streetcar” is another boondoggle by the City administration. The City has been denied a $19 million grant from the Federal Transportation Administration to help build its modern streetcar, leaving the project $26 million short.

According to a story in the Arizona Daily Star:

The gap would be even larger if the city hadn’t shifted $10.4 million from Tucson Water ratepayers into the streetcar budget in May to pay for waterline changes along the 3.9-mile route from the University of Arizona to downtown and the west side.

In addition, expected streetcar funding includes $650,000 from Pima County sewer system ratepayers – a fact that was unknown to county officials before Friday.

Surprise! How many other surprises await taxpayers?

The concept of a modern streetcar is just a frivolous show-piece that would take dozens of riders from the University to the downtown “phantom hotel” and to a vacant lot on the west side of the Santa Cruz River that may, some decade, have museums and other attractions.

If the City is determined to have a show piece, why not have dedicated bus service instead of the streetcar? The buses could even carry a special paint job to distinguish them from the ordinary Sun Tran system. Buses are more versatile and would not require expensive relocation of water and sewer lines, nor the laying of rail, and routes could easily be changed to reflect changing need and opportunities.

Now, especially, is not a time for the City to waste money on such frivolous projects.


  1. This is the smartest thing Ive read about the system in some time………However Ole Bob W. ,Steve K. and Regina R. are’nt smart enough to grasp the truth,their ego clouds the view!

    1. Karen Uhlich!!! You forgot Karen Uhlich! Steve Kozachik is the only one doing anything to stop the bleeding. And Shirley Scott, where the hell has she been?

  2. True, there are significant costs associated with a streetcar system. However, people need to look past the here and now of ‘today’ and see a vision for Tucson in the coming decades. A streetcar system may never turn a profit on its own, but the residents and business owners…and the city… will be able to reap the benefits for many years to come. People will want to dine and shop along the line, more entrepreneurs will want to open up shop along or near the line, and the city will become a place where visitors will have the option to take a car or a sleek streetcar to get to their destination. It’s urban and cool and like it or not, people are attracted to this.  Yes, the system will cost money. Instead of looking at the system as money wasted, try seeing this as an investment in the future of Tucson.
    Proud UA Graduate

    1. Tony,
      Most of the benefits you mention could accrue with a dedicated bus system.

      How “urban and cool” will it be if there is a power outage during the summer monsoon? The diesel buses will be running, but the electric streetcars will be idled and without A/C.

  3. I just want to add that the  U of A area project that got its money pulled is not as bad as it sounds.  The U of A owns the streets around the university & they are responsible for the maintenance of those streets.  They’re getting a freebie out of the city as it is

  4. I did not understand this at first, but then I read an article about streetcars and how they had influenced development in the Northwestern cities that have built them.  Apparently, the streetcar is different than buses because the businessman knows the line can not move. Think about it. A bus line can change. No one will build an expensive building when they know the bus line can move.  Jonathan DuHamel, have you actually visited Main Gate Square and Fourth Avenue at ten o’clock on a Friday or Saturday? I do not know your age, but I can guess you are aged, because you obviously do not know about the huge crowds down there. Have you visitred Plush, the Rialto or seen all the student housing in downtown? Where the heck do you live? I can guess. The foothills. You are an angry Republican without a clue about the business opportunities in the area. It actually is comical because you are so uninformed.

      1. I live in the city. I go to concerts. My great great grandpa came here in 1872, fraser. I know what is going on in my town. I go to theaters, shops, art museums, galleries and public events. I am not sitting in my house night after night. The streetcar will go where 30,000 people are. Ah, do you actually know anything about this place?

      2. LOL …I got here in 1966 benn a southwest resident since 1959. m wifes family got here in 1919. I cant tell you more than that as I want to keep my background out of this. But I know a hell of alot this place.
        Looks like you work for Hotel Congress or someone like that. Not hard to figure out your posts.

      3. I don’t work for Hotel Congress, sheesh, you think everyone who disagrees with you must have money behind it? Hotel Congress is a great place. Downtown Tucson is amazing. There are developers already building on the sites where the streetcar is going. The iron for the rails is out for bid. U.S. iron workers, I believe.The streetcars are being built in America in Portland, Oregon. Why not go to the city site and read about the developers who are building near the stops? Several articles explain that buses wear out faster than streetcars.

      4. The reason I am standing up for this project is that I am tired of these blogs being taken over by a bunch of penny pinching stay-at-home oldsters crabbing away at how you want every one of your pennies to put in a little teeny jar. I’m poking fun at you.Get out of your house and go downtown. It might take forty years off your attitude. There’s a future out there and some of us are building it now.  Why don’t you go down for Dillinger Days in Jan. and see all the fun you’re missing?

  5. The taking of Tucson 1-2-3! This outrageous embezzlement of taxpayer dollars has got to stop!! I am sick and tired of the audit being eked out  one little thing every two months. I want a full audit right now and not one dime be spent untill we know where the $200 million has gone for nothing. For nothing people, $200 million for nada, zip, it’s gone, not even in our state, it’s paid the salaries of City Council persons best friends and it is out of Tucson. Wake the hell up!

    1. What in the world are you talking about? There is a City of Tucson site that tells you all about the project. Can you Google?Of the $200 million only $16 million has been spent so far. The designs are completely finished. Ah, the plans, you know like architectural and stuff?It costs dough. The rails are now out for bid. Three companies bid. The streetcar is being designed as you grow more hysterical. The streetcar is being built in Portland Oregon by American workers. I am proud that we bought American. I will be on the streetcar on the first day, if I can.  If you read the site the city put up, you will see 10% of the city lives or works on the line. That’s about 100,000 people.

  6. Hey, Jonathan DuHamel, I just saw your pic and you are ancient! I was right. You probably go to bed at nine o’clocky. The Rialto is only gearing up then and you haven’t a clue. You’ve never been to the Rogue Theater. You don’t go to Plush. You don’t know what that is.Urban Outfitters is a Main Gate Square. Um, read the Wall Street Journal much? Urban Outfitters stock is up, way up. The marketing people in the world want to get their hands on the 18-24 year olds because they spend, spend, spend. There are 30,000 people down there. There are huge amounts of housing going up right behind 4th Avenue. These kids are the doctors, engineers, and scientists of the future. They got money to burn. You don’t know what is happening.

  7. Notice the “dedicated” in front of bus system in the author’s reply. He knows that developers do not trust bus lines because they are easy to change.
    Who’s going shopping if the power is out? The businesses are closed. The street lights are out too, sir.
    Have you been to Main Gate Square? Maynard’s Market? The Rogue Theater? Beowulf Alley Theater? If you don’t know this stuff, I think you ought to admit your idea of shopping is the Tucson Mall. I’m telling you that 18-24 year old college students do not buy stuff there.  They shop (and drink and drink) around the U of A at Main Gate,4th Ave and downtown where there is a wild night scene. Jeepers creepers!

  8. Another schill for somebodies agenda. Tell me who told you to post that stuff? A merchant, some trolley supporter? And dont insult Jonathon about where he goes and how old he is. He is a taxpayer. And Rio Nuevo is dead. Or didnt someone tell you.

    1. I’m a fifth generation Tucsonan who actually goes places in my town. I challenge anyone to go downtown on a Friday night. How about when Smashing Pumpkins plays the Rialto? You never heard of them?  Well, they’re a big global sensation –been around for ages. Oh yeah, downtown is really dead. Sheesh, get out of your house much? The place is jammed with wild people. I couldn’t fit on the sidewalk some nights.Why do you think all sorts of new restaurants are there? Art galleries. Theaters. Flamenco restaurants. Or didn’t you know about any of this? You see, you do not know anything that is happening because you don’t go there. You are visiting Park Place and Frys. You are bland.

  9. Ray is making some very good points. I also support the streetcar project. Steetcars work.  People actually ride them- buses are typically only used by folks that have no choice (no car). Riding the bus is stigmatized while riding a streetcar is not. Streetcar projects have a 100% success rate in stimulating quality re-development along their lines. Sometimes even our city makes the right decision…..

  10. Can you spell R-I-O N-U-E-V-O?  Maybe the City should’t shouldn’t start planning and designing projects until they identify a funding source and know they can pay for it 100%.   Sucks to be soo stupid.  How about this…take all the money and use it for all those unsafe crosswalks the City is still in denial about…do you think that our children’s safety is more important than a streetcar for UofA and private business comfort?  Try telling that to the parents of children who are killed and injured in unsafe crosswalks on a regualrly basis in this horribly managed city.

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