Sun Tran raises fares, but U-Pass purchases up
Students and other community members board the Sun Tran on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018.
Sun Tran began the new year with an increase in the cost of transit for its buses, shuttles and streetcars. This is the second part of a fare change plan that began in 2017.
Pat Richter, interim director of marketing and communications for Sun Tran, said the changes were in response to rising costs of operation.
“Back two years ago, it seemed like we were going to be faced with pretty major service changes, or to increase the fares slightly — we chose to increase the fares slightly,”Richter said.
He said the revenues will be used mainly to pay for service, but will also support several value-added improvements, such as the new frequent transit network and enhancements to bus stops and shelters.
“Even with this change, fares in Tucson will continue to be some of the most affordable in the country,” Richter said.
The cost of an annual pass is now $480, up from $450 in 2017. In perspective, this is $40 a month.
University of Arizona students, faculty and staff can purchase a U-Pass. This is a discounted transit pass where UA Parking and Transportation Services subsidizes half the usual cost of a semester or annual pass — a UA student would only have to pay $240 for an annual pass, or $20 a month.
Richter said that 2,509 U-Passes were sold from July 1 to December 31, 2017.
UA Parking and Transportation Services said it will continue to pay the 50 percent subsidy; it didn’t need to reallocate funds as it was aware of the approved two-year plan and anticipated the change.
Florence Dei Ochoa, UAPTS’s marketing and public information manager, said the UA community was notified of the changes.
“We sent out a notice to U-Pass holders in December to incentivize purchasing a pass at the lower rate and saw a 3 percent increase in sales compared to last year,” she said.
Ochoa said UAPTS didn’t receive any feedback from the campus community other than appreciation for the early notice.
Richter also said Sun Tran didn’t receive many complaints, and he believed it was due to it being the second part of a two-part fare change.
“We did the two parts, because we didn’t want the effects to be as dramatic,” he said.
Ochoa said she hoped the change would not dissuade people from using Sun Tran services.
“We hope that people will continue to take advantage of this and use Sun Tran and Sun Link to get to work or school,” Ochoa said.
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