Tuscon's First Bus Rapid Transit System
Study Overview Help us Shape Tucson’s First Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System!
To improve access to public transportation and regional mobility, the City of Tucson launched Tucson Rapid Transit, a study identifying a 15-mile high-capacity transit corridor ultimately connecting Tohono T’adai Transit Center/Tucson Mall, the downtown Tucson Ronstadt Transit Center, the Roy Laos Transit Center/El Pueblo Center, and the Tucson International Airport. The first phase of the project is a five-mile bus rapid transit (BRT) system, a new high-capacity transit option that will connect people and places between the Tohono T'adai Transit Center/Tucson Mall and the Ronstadt Transit Center/downtown Tucson.
In late 2023, the City conducted community outreach and a technical analysis on the two potential BRT corridors, Oracle Road and Stone Avenue. The effort resulted in Stone Avenue being identified as the north segment’s Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), which was approved by Council on January 23, 2024. See more details below:
Check back soon for more information on the project’s next steps and ways to stay involved.
Attend an Event
Past Public Meetings
Shape Tucson’s first bus rapid transit system by attending a public meeting or event.
In-person Public Meeting
Tuesday, November 14
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Donna R Liggins Recreation Center
2160 N 6th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705
In-person Public Meeting
Thursday, November 16
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Amphitheater High School
125 W Yavapai Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705
Can’t make one of our meetings? No problem! Watch our prerecorded presentation below and provide your feedback today by taking our survey or providing comments on our comment map.
Click on the resources below to open or download a PDF version.
Virtual Public Meeting Q&A Session Transcript
Public Meeting Posters
Public Meeting Handout
Interactive Comment Map
To provide a comment on the interactive comment map, place your mouse over the “add comment” box and click. Next, drag the marker to the location within the study area where you'd like to leave a comment. Zoom in and out by clicking the “+” to zoom in and “-“ to zoom out. Share your thoughts anytime between October 30 - December 8.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tucson Rapid Transit or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a high-capacity bus service that improves travel speed and reliability, passenger capacity, and the rider experience. Often, this is achieved by improving existing street and traffic signal infrastructure and enhancing transit stops along the selected route.
BRT provides a more cost-efficient and enhanced transit experience compared to the local transit services offered. BRT can be planned, designed, and implemented at a much lower cost than other high-capacity transit services while still offering an improved rider experience through enhanced stations, dedicated lanes, transit signal priority, and high rider capacity.
While there is no universal standard for BRT, there are common elements found in successful BRT systems such as:
- Dedicated bus lanes: Dedicated BRT bus lanes to facilitate faster trips.
- High-quality stations: Enhanced comfort and safety features such as better visibility, seating, lighting, level-boarding platforms, and real-time information displays.
- Advanced ticketing: Easy off-board fare collection to speed up boarding times.
- Signal priority: Rapid bus signal priority at intersections to increase speed and reliability.
- High-capacity buses: Larger buses that can hold 100 to 150 passengers with multiple doors for fast entry and exit.
- Unique branding: Unique bus and system branding to differentiate BRT from other transit services.
There are many benefits to BRT systems including transit improvements, safety, public and environmental health, and economic development. BRT systems are proven to save travel time, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve traffic safety. They provide significantly faster operating speeds, greater service reliability, and increased convenience for passengers. Benefits may include:
- Increased Safety: Dedicated BRT bus lanes increase safety by reducing the risk of collisions with other vehicles.
- Faster and More Frequent Service: BRT is faster and provides more frequent service than traditional bus routes.
- Improved Boarding Experience: Through enhanced rider amenities such as off-board fare collection, level-boarding platforms, and multiple-door boarding, BRT can increase speed by reducing boarding times and overall travel experience.
- Increased Cost Efficiency: BRT reduces operational costs as vehicles make fewer stops, have increased travel speed, and can carry more passengers, ultimately reducing the number of vehicles needed.
- Improved Connectivity to Key Destinations: BRT will provide more efficient connections to key destinations and enhance the overall transit network by creating more frequent connections to other transit routes.
|Sun Tran Bus System
|throughout the day
|both in the city and the greater Tucson area
|every 15 to 30 minutes
|during peak or commuter hours
|from outlying areas to key destinations
|40 to 60 passengers
|only 2 to 4 trips per day
|throughout the day
|on a selected corridor, typically major roads, connecting to key destinations
|100 to 150 passengers
|every 10 minutes
BRT In Tucson
An extensive high-capacity transit alignment study was conducted between 2017 and 2018 resulting in two potential corridors at the northern end of the city, connecting the Tohono T’adai Transit Center/Tucson Mall to the Ronstadt Transit Center in downtown Tucson. These corridor options are:
- Oracle Road
- Stone Avenue
In addition, two south-segment corridor options are being evaluated to connect from downtown Tucson to the Tucson International Airport. One of these corridors, Stone Ave./6th Ave. was identified through the high-capacity transit study, while the other was identified through the Tucson Norte-Sur Phase I study.
In 2017, PAG's High-Capacity Transit Implementation Plan (HCTIP) identified several corridors for high-capacity transit development in the near-term based on:
- transit route performance
- surrounding land use
- populations served
Three of the alignments from the HCTIP were further refined and studied in the Equitable Transit-Oriented Development (ETOD) Strategic Plan, Tucson Norte-Sur, and the Tucson ETOD Market Assessment. These studies included a robust outreach process and based on the additional evaluation and public input, two transit route alignments from the Tohono T’adai Transit Center to the Ronstadt Transit Center were deemed ready for additional evaluation, refinement, and development.
Other alignments serving Downtown, the Laos Transit Center, and the Tucson International Airport have also been identified but require further evaluation before moving into the corridor selection process.
The full 15-mile transit corridor is being separated into a north and south segment to expedite the north segment and allow for more refined engagement and evaluation in the south segment. Each segment will go through an extensive evaluation and community input process to understand the community’s preferences, as well as the opportunities and constraints for each.
The north segment will move forward with this process in the fall of 2023. Through analysis and community input, the city will identify a Locally Preferred Alternative (a single north segment corridor) that will be reviewed and approved by the Mayor and Council. Once approved, a north segment corridor will move into refinement and design.
Tucson Rapid Transit and Norte-Sur are two halves of a whole.
- Tucson Norte-Sur is the land-use planning and policy development along the transit corridors, which focuses on affordable housing, multimodal connectivity, cultural preservation, and equitable policy to ensure transit investments meet community needs, especially those historically disadvantaged.
- Tucson Rapid Transit is the identification and implementation of a specific bus rapid transit corridor, stations, and transit technology.
Stop locations will be determined through the Project Development (PD) process. Stops will be spaced approximately every half- to one-mile and will be evaluated based on major destinations, public input, potential for equitable Transit-Oriented Development, accessibility, and connectivity to east-west bus routes.
The fare structure is yet to be determined but will match the no-fare policy if that is still in place.
Local buses operate in local traffic, meaning they experience the same congestion and delays as a typical vehicle. BRT can include a variety of elements allowing it to operate more efficiently through traffic. These elements include dedicated travel lanes and transit spot improvements like queue jump lanes (allowing BRT a head start at an intersection) and transit signal priority (adjusting red or green light timing to accommodate BRT). These elements help make BRT about 20 to 25 percent faster than local bus service – a significant difference in travel time.
North Segment Corridor
No, we will be looking at two primary corridors, Stone Ave. and Oracle Rd. We will have community outreach in fall/winter 2023, as part of a process to determine the Locally Preferred Alternative (preferred corridor). This outreach will be coordinated with the Tucson Norte-Sur land use and policy outreach, which is underway.
Although both the north and south segments of the corridor show high transit demand, several other factors have made the north segment our priority:
Ongoing Community Reinvestment
- Through the Thrive in the 05 initiative, several community reinvestment and affordable housing initiatives are underway at Stone Ave/Speedway Bl and along Stone/Oracle corridors.
- In addition, these corridors show a high community reinvestment potential with the Tucson Mall, Thrive in the 05, and Pima Community College.
Results and Feedback from Norte-Sur Phase I
- Based on feedback from Tucson Norte-Sur Phase I, additional outreach is needed within the southern study area, which will continue through Tucson Norte-Sur Phase II.
- Additional transit alignments have been identified in the south segment (between downtown and the airport) and will need to be studied further before moving into the next phase or corridor selection.
- The airport is currently planning an expansion that will impact the airport entrance and therefore a potential transit alignment.
The full 15-mile BRT corridor from Tohono T’adai to the airport, with connections to all the communities in between, does not change under this plan. This will allow for additional community engagement and land-use planning/housing development efforts in the south while expediting the north segment, ultimately setting the stage for more opportunities for future funding.
Approximately three to seven years, depending on funding availability, vehicle procurement, and material timelines.
Preliminary assumptions for the proposed 5-mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system from Tohono T’adai Transit Center to Ronstadt Transit Center (the north segment) show that the project would cost approximately $140 million. The City of Tucson is applying for a Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant seeking 50% of the project costs, with the remaining 50% of costs coming from local sources, like RTA Next.
A queue jump provides priority to BRT buses at intersections. It consists of an additional bus-only lane at an intersection, accompanied by its own traffic signal, allowing buses to merge smoothly back into regular through lanes’; ultimately giving buses a head start over other traffic. For more information about queue jumps, visit the Transit Street Design guide.
Transit Signal Priority (TSP) is technology that allows BRT buses to communicate with traffic signals within the designated BRT corridor. TSP can help BRT buses move more quickly through the corridor and increase transit reliability through two methods:
- Extended Green: When a BRT vehicle is approaching a green signal that is about to turn yellow, it may request that the signal's green light be extended by a few seconds to allow the vehicle to travel through the intersection.
- Early Green: A BRT vehicle approaching a red signal that is about to turn green may request that the signal turn green early, allowing the BRT vehicle to move through the intersection quickly.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Systems can reduce the number of vehicles on the road, which reduces the number of potential crashes. BRT systems have dedicated lanes that separate buses from other vehicles and reduce the risk of collisions.
BRT stations have increased lighting and transparent shelters to increase visibility and enhance safety and security.
The dedicated bus lanes may improve traffic flow for other drivers. At the same time, increased BRT ridership may decrease roadway congestion.
If you are looking to stay up to date on the project, attend events, or participate in community input opportunities, simply sign up to join our email list or learn more at tucsonrapidtransit.com.
Yes! There are several upcoming community engagement opportunities for you to learn more and share your feedback. Help us create a BRT system by joining us at one of the events below:
- Tues, Nov. 14, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. │ Donna R Liggins Recreation Center | 2160 N 6th Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705
- Thurs, Nov. 16, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. │ Amphitheater High School | 125 W Yavapai Rd, Tucson, AZ 85705
- Wed, Nov. 15, 6 – 7 pm │ online
- Tues, Oct. 17 | 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. | Pima Community College Downtown Campus | Amethyst Room (CC 180)
- Thurs, Oct. 19 | 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. | El Pueblo Activity Center
- Sat, Oct. 21 | 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. | Sam Lena Library
- Sun, Oct. 29 | 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. | Cyclovia
Join our email list or share your thoughts.