TUCSON, Arizona — A new streetcar system in Tucson officially made its debut Friday morning.
The nearly 4-mile Sun Link streetcar was ushered in with a grand opening celebration attended by U.S. Department of Transportation officials and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.
The 18-stop route will be covered by eight streetcars, which can each hold about 150 people. The line connects the University of Arizona, the University of Arizona Medical Center and the downtown area.
Despite the heat, hundreds of people showed up to try out the new transit system, the Arizona Daily Star reported. The festivities included University of Arizona marching band members performing alongside the first streetcar to pull out.
Construction on the nearly $200 million project began in 2012. It was partially funded by a $63 million federal grant. Other funding for the streetcar came from private and public sources, including Pima County's sales tax.
The streetcar line will spur economic development and improve transit options for thousands of residents, federal transportation officials said.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox called the streetcar line "a great addition to Tucson's growing transit network, connecting residents and students with work, school, and other ladders of opportunity."
Local supporters believe those opportunities will manifest in the form of new businesses sprouting up along the route.
Streetcar rides will be free Friday through Sunday. Regular fares are $1.50 for a one-way ride, $4 for an all-day pass and $42 for a 30-day pass.
Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians will need to learn to share the road with the new streetcars once the Sun Link starts running. Bicyclists may find that they have less room on some roads because of the streetcar's tracks and drivers will need to watch where they park so that they don't halt the route by getting in the line's way.