The low price and efficiency of the Sun Link Tucson Modern Streetcar is something many Tucsonans have dreamed of. Unfortunately, the streetcar only passes through the areas of town of those who don't actually need it.
The usefulness of the streetcar is inarguable and those who are lucky enough to have easy access to the streetcar take full advantage of it. The streetcar transports a staggering 4,000 riders per day.
Sixty-one percent of streetcar riders are students at the UA and of all riders of the streetcar, only 52.3 percent ride the rails more than twice per week.
The current route only goes along areas of entertainment, shopping or places where people of some means can be found. People who ride the streetcar do so because it's convenient and if it wasn't there, it's likely the current riders could find other means of transportation.
This all suggests that the streetcar is more of a luxury to the community rather than a necessity.
The city providing a pay to use “luxury” service such as the streetcar isn't necessarily a bad thing. It has helped vitalize some of the local restaurants and has left a generally positive impact in the communities it serves. However, there are communities that do not have service where the streetcar could make more of a difference.
Tucson is not a rich city. There are many parts of the city with high crime rates and low income. I lived in a housing complex my sophomore year which was perfectly safe, but was nonetheless located in a questionable area — two bodies were found on my block during that year. At night it was dangerous to walk around and even during the day it behooved me to stay in a group.
I was fortunate enough to have a car, so I could easily travel during the day and night. Many were not this fortunate. Given the low income nature of the neighborhood, walking or riding a bike was the primary means of transportation. While buses are an option to many who wish to travel across the city or to different neighborhoods, that is little comfort to someone who wants to go to the store after work without having to fear for their safety.
The city has failed to serve its citizens because it has not built a streetcar which could provide cheap, safe and convenient transportation to and from the greater community. The city has ignored the needs of its lower income citizens. The location of the streetcar is a clear misallocation of resources. We must take care of those citizens in need before we begin to care for those who don't need help.
It’s high time we extend that transportation service to the communities that need it the most.
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