Sun Tran may resume charging transit fares in late September

Sun Tran losses

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Tucson City Council will decide next week whether to start charging transit fares again on Sep. 28, 2020.

The fares have been waived since March 11, when the council took steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The passengers were required to enter and exit the bus through the rear door to reduce contact with the driver and other passengers.

The city used its CARES Act money from the Federal government, $44.2 million, to make up for the looses but that money has all but run out.

“We are looking at a number of ways to cut costs so that we can provide the same service,” said Rhett Crowninshield, the transit system administrator.

What those cuts are will be announced in the coming weeks. The hope is it does not include employees.

“The bulk of our operational cost are people,” Crowninshield said. “We don’t want to lay people off.”

The transit system has not laid people off so far “and we’re proud of that,” he said.

But a power point presentation which will be presented to the council next week shows how deep the deficits can become very quickly.

In February, before the virus measures were instituted, fare receipts totaled $2.4 million. In July, that had fallen to $14,400.

Ridership has fallen as well although it has recently begun to tick up a bit.

Whether people come back to the system in the great unknown and will determine whether cuts are needed and how deep they may be.

In order to restore confidence, the transit system has installed plexi-glass around the drivers, set aside space in the buses for social distancing and deep cleans each bus or street car daily.

“Safety was paramount and to that end we had to spend extra money to make sure our areas were clean and doing everything we need to do to keep people safe,” Crowninshield said.

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