Sun Shuttle may cut 1 OV bus route - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Sun Shuttle may cut 1 OV bus route

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Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 11:00 pm | Updated: 8:16 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

A Sun Shuttle circulator bus route covering much of residential Oro Valley is proposed for elimination because of low ridership, according to a spokeswoman for operator Sun Tran.

Route 402, the Rancho Vistoso / La Cañada route that provides hourly transportation six days a week, has averaged less than 200 passenger rides per month for all but one month since its inception in May 2009. Sun Tran proposes to eliminate Route 402 when it changes its schedule after May 22.

"The 402 has just not taken off," said Michele Joseph, director of marketing for Sun Tran. "The ridership is stagnant."

The Regional Transportation Authority, which funds the circulator bus service, has promoted all of its circulator bus service routes "in the same way," Joseph said, and has made some adjustments. Now, approaching a year into the service, "it's our obligation to talk to the public about what's working and what's not." Toward that end, Sun Tran held public meetings March 22 in Marana and March 24 in Oro Valley to talk about changes and gather public comment.

The Oro Valley Sun Shuttle route has cost RTA more than $90 per passenger, and its ridership is below the minimum objective of one passenger per service hour.

"We're in a community where people are in love with their cars," Joseph said. Mass transit is "a new concept for some people to embrace."

Sun Shuttle circulator Route 401, the North Oracle / Catalina route that runs from the Golder Ranch Commercial Center to Ina and Oracle, has a demonstrated growth rate that "very much mirrors the system growth," Joseph said. For the 10 months through February, the route has averaged 800 rides a month, and it has increased ridership every month. Its February ride total was 1,358.

"The 401 is really building," Joseph said, even with an initial free ride period, and with fare increases that took effect in August. It includes "a lot of major destinations" for employment, schools and retail opportunities, as well as connections to the Sun Tran system serving greater Tucson. Ridership is heaviest on weekdays.

Sun Tran continues to see growth on its express commuter routes from Oro Valley into downtown Tucson and the Air Park employment centers, Joseph said.

Route 107X, the Oro Valley / Downtown Express, began service Feb. 16, 2009. Through 12 months, it has had 19,152 rides, an average of 72.5 rides per day of operation.

Route 203X, the Oro Valley / Aero Park Express, also began service Feb. 16. It has had 19,298 rides, an average of 73.1 rides per day.

At monthly meetings, RTA's transit working group reviews ridership statistics. It is provided weekly ridership updates, according to Jeremy Papuga, a transit planning and operations manager for the Pima Association of Governments.

"We go through the process of monitoring the monthly ridership, and we have seen it continue to grow," Joseph said.

The board "takes seriously their fiduciary responsibility," Papuga said. "Next year, the performance standards will be different than this year. These are newer routes that need time to generate" ridership.

   

Route change proposed for 1 Marana circulator

 

Three Sun Shuttle circulator routes in Marana have met or exceeded ridership expectations in their first 10 months of operation, and shall continue intact, according to Sun Tran.

Route 410 (dubbed Anway / Trico, 728 rides per month), the 411 Cortaro / Silverbell route at 261 rides per month and the 413 Marana / I-10 route at 951 rides per month have met expectations and shall continue operation.

A fourth route, the 412 Thornydale / Dove Mountain route that runs from the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain to the Lowe's Regency Plaza on Thornydale, is recommended for a change.

Since the route's inception in May, 91 percent of the route's ridership has been from Tangerine at Thornydale to the Lowe's / Target / Costco retail complex down Thornydale. It averages 296 rides per month.

"The leg to the Ritz-Carlton is just not as productive," said Jeremy Papuga, a transit planning and operations manager for the Pima Association of Governments.

In response, Sun Shuttle proposes to eliminate the service between the Ritz-Carlton and Thornydale / Tangerine, and extend the route south from Ina and Thornydale to River and eventually the Tohono Transfer Center near Tucson Mall, where riders can connect to the Sun Tran system. Southern extension of that route would give riders access to major employment, health care and retail centers, Papuga observe.

Sun Shuttle service is funded through the Regional Transportation Authority.

"The leg to the Ritz-Carlton is just not as productive," said Jeremy Papuga, a transit planning and operations manager for the Pima Association of Governments.

In response, Sun Shuttle proposes to eliminate the service between the Ritz-Carlton and Thornydale / Tangerine, and extend the route south from Ina and Thornydale to River and eventually the Tohono Transfer Center near Tucson Mall, where riders can connect to the Sun Tran system. Southern extension of that route would give riders access to major employment, health care and retail centers, Papuga observe.

Sun Shuttle service is funded through the Regional Transportation Authority.

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