Sun Tran and the City of Tucsons Department of Transportation and Mobility are proposing changes to the bus system, with a goal of improving efficiency, effectiveness and equity.

In the spring, Sun Tran surveyed roughly 500 riders about what they want to see from the transit system. Those responses, and ridership counts taken around that time, led to the proposed changes.

The agency is targeting more service on the weekends and along key corridors.

The evaluation process is called Comprehensive Operational Analysis, or COA.

Davita Mueller, Sun Trans director of Service Planning and Development, says Tucsons last COA was happening a decade ago.

Post-COVID, people have changed how they travel on transit, she told KGUN. Is the system still doing what its supposed to do? Is it still working?

Public Pushback

The proposed increases in service would be offset by some routes changing or being cut altogether.

That has prompted strong pushback online or in public meetings from those in the community who would be affected.

We are taking all those concerns very seriously and we will be re-evaluating this draft plan based on the feedback were hearing, said James Castaneda, Transit Services Manager for the Tucson Department of Transportation and Mobility.

Feedback is being taken in an online survey through Sep. 8.

Potential Route 3 cut could affect many students

More than 3,000 students go to Tucson High School.

Lindy Feaster is one of the many who live in nearby neighborhoods, deemed too close to be assigned a school bus route.

My sister and I take Route 3 every day, she said.

Sun Trans Route 3 bus runs down Sixth Street, by several schools.

This route services Rincon, University High School, Roskridge, Mansfeld, U of A and Tucson High, said Feaster. Its packed. Its very packed. Like sometimes I have trouble getting on the bus or finding a spot.

Sun Tran is proposing to discontinue Route 3 and replace it with an hourly express bus, taking just two trips in the morning and two in the afternoon.

I dont think its that great, said Feaster. Being spread out, if you miss the bus, you might have to wait an hour or there might not be an opportunity to get a bus ride to school.

Featser also worries about more students being forced to walk if they need to get to school early or stay late.

I would have to walk half a mile to my nearest bus stop, she said. And some people might have to walk up to a mile To carry such a heavy backpack that far. And especially given our climate, in the heat. Even just to wait that long in the heat could be dangerous for younger kids.

Another concerned viewer contacted KGUN about the proposed elimination of Route 5, which runs along Pima Street and services other schools, presenting similar issues but without a new express option as is the case with Route 3. Sun Tran is instead proposing increased service along Grant and Speedway.

Whats Next

There is one final virtual public meeting on Wednesday.

Castaneda says the plan will be re-evaluated and likely modified before being presented to Tucsons mayor and city council late this year.

They would then to decide whether or not to move forward with all or part of that revised plan.

If changes include a 25 percent deviation in revenue miles or revenue hours on a route, then there would be another opportunity for the public to share feedback.