As it gets more expensive to drive your own car, more people are turning to public transportation as a way to get around the city. However, in order for you to use public transportation effectively, you will need to know all of the options available to you. Here are some things that you should know about public transportation in Tucson, Arizona.
Tucson has been expanding its public transportation network over the years and now has a mixed system of buses, shuttles, streetcars, and more. The majority of the network is geared towards helping people around downtown Tuscon as well as connecting people to the University of Arizona and Phoenix.
With so many different options, it can be difficult to know where to start. With that in mind, here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to travel to Tuscon, Arizona.
Important Areas You Should Know
One of the first things that you should do while in a new city is finding a couple of landmarks that are easy to identify. By establishing these landmarks you can orient yourself from multiple different locations within the area. You can also use these points to begin to establish a map in your mind of more paths and destinations within the city. With that in mind, here are some important areas in Tuscon that you should know.
The first area you should know about in Tucson is the downtown area. This is the area with many businesses and attractions that you may want to explore. Something unique about downtown Tuscon is that it isn’t in the middle of the city. The city of Tucson is shaped like a triangle with the point pointed towards the east. With that in mind, you will find that the downtown neighborhood is on the west side of the city. From the downtown area, you can head north or south, or east, past the University into the majority of the city of Tucson.
The next area to know about is the university. The University of Arizona sits just outside downtown Tucson and is the next biggest attraction in the area. The University of Arizona has one of the largest campuses of any university in the US and takes up several city blocks by itself.
East of the university, you will find the Blenman Elm Historic District and the Garden District. There are more neighborhoods beyond these two but the further out you get from the heart of downtown Tucson the fewer public transportation options you have.
If you head south from downtown, you will find the Wakefield and Sunnyside areas. If you continue to the far end of Tucson, you will find the Tucson International Airport. Head north along the highway and you will eventually reach Phoenix, which is the capital of Arizona. Now that you have a rough idea of what you might find in the city, here are some things you should know about each form of public transportation in Tucson.
Sun Tran (Bus)
If you need to get to one of the outlying neighborhoods outside downtown Tucson, you will want to use the Sun Tran bus system. These buses can take you just about anywhere in the city, so if you have a specific destination in mind, the buses in Tucson are the best option. If you plan on riding the Sun Tran before December 2022, you can ride as much as you want for free. I’ve outlined some popular destinations below and the buses that serve those areas below.
If you want to ride a bus to the Tucson International Airport, you will want to ride one of two buses. These are the number 11 and 25 buses. The number 25 bus starts in downtown Tuscon and heads south down the Tucson airport. The number 11 bus starts further east and runs right through the center of the city to the airport.
Bus line 25 is a simpler option connecting downtown and the airport without any frills. The number 11 offers a more varied route as well as the benefit of you not having to find a way into downtown Tuscon if you are in an outlying area of the city.
If you want to get to the University of Arizona campus, consider using the number 3 bus line. This line runs from downtown along the southern edge of the University of Arizona campus. This is a great option if you are looking for a way to get to the Arizona college football stadium. It also provides access to the Pima Community College campus on the west side of Tuscon.
If you want to get to the north side of Tuscon from downtown, plan on taking the number 16 line. This line takes you from downtown through Coronado and into the Casas Adobes before stopping in Kino by the highway.
To get to the eastern Tucson neighborhoods, ride bus line 7. This line starts in downtown Tuscon before following 22nd street east. As it runs the line passes Polvo as well as Palo Verde Estates before reaching the Rolling Hills Estates. Once it reaches these neighborhoods, it makes a turn to the north up to Broadway Blvd. This is a great option if you need to get to areas east of downtown, which, as it turns out, is the majority of the city of Tucson.
Sun Link Tucson Streetcar
In order to provide more public transportation options, the city of Tuscon introduced a streetcar system in 2014. Since then the system has expanded to serve the city and connect the downtown and university areas of the city. By connecting these areas, there are many attractions and destinations that are now just a short ride away from one another.
The Sun Link Streetcar has an out-and-back route between downtown and the university. It starts down by the Santa Cruz river before heading through the center of the downtown area. Once the streetcar exits the downtown area it makes a turn to the north. After turning it follows 4th Avenue north through the business district before turning east onto University Blvd. Going east, it runs through the Unviseity of Arizona campus, with the final stop being near the medical school.
The Sun Link Tuscon streetcar has a variety of times that it runs, with most of the streetcars running during weekdays to better accommodate students, and the latest hours being during weekends (to move people who want to party in downtown Tucson back to their homes). With that in mind, here are the hours that the Sun Link Tuscon streetcar runs.
From Monday to Thursday, the streetcar runs from 7 am to 10 pm. The cars run by each stop every 15 minutes, except from 9 am to 6 pm when they stop by every 10 minutes. On Friday it also starts at 7 am but runs until midnight. Like Monday to Thursday, the streetcars come by every 15 mins, except for 9 am to 6 pm when they come more often (every 10 mins).
On Saturday and Sunday, the hours of service vary. They start on Saturday at 8 am and run until midnight. The cars only run every 30 minutes from 8 am to 10 am but will run every 15 minutes after 10 am. Sunday hours are 8 am to 8 pm with rides every 30 mins.
In order to ride the streetcar, you will need a day pass. These can be purchased at a ticket vending machine at any of the stops or online. If you are planning on buying using cash, make sure that you have exact change, as the machines won’t be able to give you change if you are using larger bills. Once you have bought a day pass you can use it to ride on the streetcars as well as any of the city buses.
If you want a public transportation option that will take you outside the city of Tucson, you will want to take a look at the Groome Shuttle System. Groome is a company that offers these shuttles throughout the country. The benefit of using Groome in Tuscon is that it lets you get outside the city and explore other parts of Arizona. While Tucson is a great city, it is near the southern end of the state and may not be the best option if you want to explore multiple cities. Groome gives you this option while still allowing you to visit Tucson.
One of the most popular options that people choose when using Groome is to use it to get from Tucson to the Phoenix International Airport. While you can always fly into the Tucson airport, it doesn’t offer as many options as the Phoenix airport and you could end up having long layovers on your flights in or out.
Instead, you can fly into the Phoenix and ride one of the Groome shuttles from the airport into downtown Tucson. You will want to buy a ticket to the shuttle at least 24 hours in advance. Check this website or call 520-795-6771 for more information about Groome services and prices.
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