Transportation may seem like a daunting detail to add to new and returning students’ to-do lists as they move to Tucson this school year. The following is a list of transportation options that the University of Arizona and the city of Tucson provide to make it easy for students to get around.
Bringing a car to school?
The University of Arizona offers a few parking options for students who have a car. The first is a campus parking permit. This allows individuals to park in designated areas on and around campus. According to the UA Parking & Transportation Services website, options for parking permits are as follows:
- Parking garages: Shaded parking structure
- Lot specific and street specific: unshaded lot and street areas
- Zones: a collection of parking locations in a designated area
“Permits are available for purchase through out the school year after July 6,” UA PTS writes on their information page. Prices for each permit vary depending on the type and lot. Generally speaking, parking garages are the most expensive option, while the zones are the cheapest according to UA PTS. Specific pricing details can be found on the ‘Permit Rates’ page of their website.
The UA also offers more cost-friendly options, such as carpool or Park & Ride permits, for individuals who want to bring their car but not break the bank. Carpooling allows groups of two or three people who plan on parking one car on campus to buy a shared parking permit, according to the UA PTS website where more information can be found.
According to UA PTS, the Park & Ride permit is a system that allows students living off campus to park in a lot near one of the Cat Tran stops and take public transportation into campus. The permit costs $105 and lasts for the academic year, according to their website. Maps with more specific details regarding lots and service lines can be found online at uarrive.arizona.edu.
The City of Tucson also offers street parking. As stated on the Park Tucson website, meter parking is available in the Downtown, Fourth Avenue and Main Gate areas. Donovan Durband, the Park Tucson administrator, said that the signage nearby will indicate the time limitations of the parking spot, but most are one to two hours.
As far as price, “all meters are $1 an hour, regardless of the location,” Durband said. According to Park Tucson, individuals can either pay at the meter, using the GoTucson app or by calling (520) 441-3752.
No car, but still want to get around?
There are quite a few options for students without a car. Bicycling is common among students and the school offers many resources for bicyclists. Some of these include a bike repair shop on the UA Mall in front of the Henry Koffler building and a bike rental service called Cat Wheels, according to the UA PTS website.
"Biking can be both a fun and effective way of commuting," said Dennis Zhuang, a UA senior who bikes to class. But, biking comes with its challenges; the main one being theft. “It’s so common for people to steal your bike, more common than you think,” he said.
The UA provides a free bike valet to keep bikes safe during the school day. All bike riders need to do is park their bike in the monitored area near the Student Union Memorial Center; this service is available Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to UA PTS. Additionally, the website states that bikers can purchase a bicycle locker ($100 a year) or enclosure ($35 a year), which are both secure options to store bikes.
Personal bike protection is key. “If … you decide to invest your money on a bike, my advice is to buy a good lock. Buy a U-lock,” Zhuang said.
Another method of transportation is the Cat Tran, a bus that travels across campus through multiple lines and stops, according to the UA PTS website. This mode of transportation is completely free.
Evelyn Lynch, a former UA student, said she valued the Cat Tran for its ease, convenience and price. “It also makes it easier to get from place to place when you’re in a rush, and when it’s hot outside you’re able to get a quick ride to wherever you’re going,” she said.
In addition, there are programs in place to get students without access to a car safely from point A to point B. These are Night Cat by Lyft and Saferide funded by the ASUA, the UA's student government. Both programs provide students with a free ride, according to the UA PTS website. The difference is that Night Cat is strictly for on-campus transportation, while Saferide will take students off-campus as well. Detailed information on how to use the two services can be found on the Night Cat and Saferide pages on the UA PTS website.
The City of Tucson provides transportation that can be helpful for students wishing to travel off-campus. The Sun Tran is a bus that stops through UA every 15 minutes, and the Sun Link is a street car that runs throughout Tucson with stops along the perimeter of campus, as stated by UA PTS.
Currently, both services are free to ride until December 31, according to the Sun Tran website.
If fares resume in January, students may find it beneficial to purchase a U-Pass through UA PTS. According to the website, it is a discounted pass to ride the Sun Tran and Sun Link an unlimited amount of times. Passes can be purchased for either a month, semester or year depending on what the customer is looking for.
The City of Tucson also provides a bike rental system called Tugo for those who wish to travel by bike but do not have one of their own. With bike stations set up across the city, individuals can download the Tugo app and rent a bike to ride from one station to the next, according to the Tugo bike share website. Through the parking portal, UA students can purchase a $40 annual membership to Tugo which will allow for unlimited 30-minute rides for a whole year. More information about the different memberships and payment plans can be found on the Tugo website.
Follow Tatyana Johnson on Twitter