Coming out of a year of unprecedented disruption due to the pandemic, Sun Shuttle is experiencing an increase in passengers, though it’s still not quite up to pre-pandemic rider numbers.
What is Sun Shuttle?
Sun Shuttle was created to connect residents in some of the outlying segments of the region with the regular service area for the City of Tucson’s Sun Tran bus service. Sun Shuttle service goes to Ajo, Marana, Oro Valley and Catalina, Rita Ranch, the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Nation, and Tucson Estates on the southeast side of the metro area.
The service area includes regular stops and some flag-down zones where riders can board in any location where it’s safe for the driver to stop. Those areas are indicated on the applicable Sun Shuttle schedules online.
Sun Shuttle service is paid for with the Regional Transportation Authority’s half-cent excise (sales) tax. Voters approved the tax in 2006 alongside a plan to expand transit services. Other funding comes from the Federal Transit Administration, Pima County and Marana.
Who can ride?
Anyone can ride Sun Shuttle in its regular service areas. See below for more information on the Sun Shuttle Dial-A-Ride service.
How are the routes or locations of service determined?
Some routes have been established for years and are annually evaluated to see if adjustments need to be made. Service planning activities and input from the general public – riders, businesses and service groups – also assist in adjusting current routes and designing new routes.
What are the ridership trends?
Before the pandemic, the shuttles steadily served about 14,000 to 15,000 passenger trips per month. That’s a one-way trip. One person going round trip would count as two passenger trips.
Now the service is regularly seeing 10,000 to 11,000 passenger trips per month, so it’s still down compared to pre-pandemic levels. But, ridership has climbed from its low in the first few months of the pandemic. Sun Shuttle has more riders now than for each month from March 2020 through August 2020.
Route 440 served the most passengers in May 2021. It provides transportation in the Tohono O’odham Nation, from Roy Laos Transit Center on the north end to the San Xavier Indian Health Center.
How much does it cost?
Sun Shuttle is free, as are all other Sun Tran transit services, through the end of 2021.
What is Sun Shuttle Dial-A-Ride?
There are two Dial-A-Ride services. One is for those who qualify for door-to-door service prescribed in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The service, provided by the RTA through a contract with TotalRide, is available to those who need to travel outside Tucson city limits. For trips entirely within city limits, Sun Van is the service provider.
The other Dial-A-Ride service is for those who live in Green Valley or Sahuarita, Ajo and Oro Valley, and the scheduled service is not restricted to those with disabilities. Oro Valley funds and runs its own service, the others are provided through the RTA and funding sources described above.