by David Safier
Let's check out more of this subsidy, shall we: The No. 4 route down Speedway subsidized at $2.46 per rider; the No. 8 down Broadway gets $2.20 per rider; the 11 up Alvernon gets $1.78 per rider and the No. 6 down First Avenue past the Star newsroom on South Park Avenue and to the airport gets $1.86. Those are the cheap lines. The expensive lines in Sun Tran system run to Midvale Park at $6.63 per rider and along West Speedway and Pima Street at $5.53 a rider.
The smart money thinking of course is to eliminate "less-efficient" routes because the poor just need to find another way and Sun Tran should run like a bidness. Harrumph. You don't see the hard-working makers getting a subsidy from Sun Tran in places like Oro Valley, Tanque Verde, the Foothills and Rita Ranch do you? No, even though the poor keep stealing all their hard-earned lucre, these folks muster through on their own.
They don't need no stinking subsidy. Do they?
What if I told you that Sun Tran's express routes to the suburbs — meaning no stops for rabble — marinate in city subsidies to the point of engorgement?
Yeah, the Rita Ranch Express soaks in $12.77 per rider. The Tanque Verde Express slurps up $17.97 for a pair of wingtips. The Golf Links Express right through the heart of Republican Ward 4 rakes in $25.47 per rider. They all trail the 202X straight from Oro Valley down to Raytheon, subsidized to the anthemic tune of $25.98 per rider. That's per ride. Each way.
Moochers and takers! I'm sorry. Makers! No. Wait? What? The poor aren't the ones ripping us off?
In all, the express routes passengers average $14.54 per rider — more than six times the riders at bus stops they blow past because they have places to be and sun stroke is for the fast-food workers.
It costs Sun Tran $312,000 per month to run these routes, or $3.7 million per year. If you'd put those savings on the table two weeks ago, the strike would be over. The contractor has $2.2 million to work with and the union was asking for $5.7 million per year — there would be enough left over to buy Sun Tran GM Kate Riley and Teamsters chief negotiator Andy Marshall each killer Italian rides for jobs well done.
To find this, I Googled "Sun Tran subsidy," and found the bus service's monthly reports and a comprehensive system-wide analysis on the first damn page.