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Strike forces Sun Tran to offer limited service around UA

Headline Photo

Linguistics graduate student Azita Taleghani waits at a Sun Tran bus stop on Speedway Boulevard near Park Avenue yesterday afternoon. Though most routes are not being serviced, a few, such as Speedway Boulevard's Route 4, are still active on a limited basis.

By Jeff Sklar

Thursday September 6, 2001

Bus-riding students complain of inconvenience, seek alternatives

Students should seek other available means to commute if they have been affected by the Sun Tran strike, said Gary Thomson, associate director of Parking and Transportation Services.

Thomson said that although he does not think the strike will last long, students who decide to carpool to campus can reap benefits throughout the year.

"If three individuals want to carpool, they basically jump all the waiting lists·and we will provide them with parking on campus," he said.

People can also contact RideShare, a carpool matching program, said Terry Garcia Crews, a Sun Tran assistant general manager. RideShare is a free service that provides them with a "matchlist" of commuters who live nearby and are willing to carpool.

Although the exact number of University of Arizona students and staff affected by the strike is not known, nearly 3,000 people purchased a U-Pass last year. The U-Pass gives UA personnel a discounted rate for unlimited use of Sun Tran buses for a semester or an academic or calendar year.

The strike began early yesterday morning after Sun Tran's drivers and mechanics rejected a contract offering them raise of 8 cents per hour, and a 100 percent contribution to their health and welfare package in the first year.

But some bus routes remain open on a limited basis with managers and supervisors covering for the striking drivers.

Route 3, which services Sixth Street and Wilmot Road, and Route 4, which services Speedway Boulevard, both pass the UA campus and are offering service every half hour until 6:30 p.m.

Route 8, which services Broadway Boulevard, and Route 16, which services Oracle Road and Twelfth Avenue, are also operating on a limited basis.

Sun Tran will decide from day-to-day whether to open additional routes on a limited basis, she said. She also said the decision is made based on the typical number of riders on a given route.

No students have complained to Sun Tran about the reduction, Garcia Crews said.

"I think people are appreciative of the service being provided," she said.

However, some students waiting for one of the limited service buses said that even though their routes were still being serviced, they were inconvenienced by the strike.

"It's a major inconvenience," said Christina Lara, a senior majoring in English who lives on Harrison Road, which is about eight miles from campus.

She said her mother had to drive her to campus yesterday morning. "I'll just have to deal with it," Lara said.

Lara was one of about 10 people waiting for the Route 4 bus at the stop near Speedway Boulevard and Park Avenue at about 3:15 p.m. yesterday.

Sasha Schlicher, a senior majoring in English who was also waiting at the same time, said she had been waiting about 15 minutes. The bus arrived at about 3:35 p.m. after she had been waiting over a half hour. According to the Sun Tran schedule, the Route 4 bus typically runs every 10 minutes.

Other students whose routes are not running during the strike have had to find alternative solutions to get around town.

"I catch the bus to get to classes at (the Downtown Campus of) Pima (Community College)," said Joel Baker, a physical science junior. "I guess I'll just walk."

The Downtown Campus is located at Stone Avenue and Speedway Boulevard, about a mile from the UA.

Students wishing to use the RideShare service should call (520) 884-RIDE.


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