Tucson Questions Transit Funding Structure In Aftermath Of Bus Strike
TUCSON, Ariz. — After 42 days, the management company that operates Tucson’s bus system finally came to an agreement with the transit workers union. Now the union and city leaders are grappling with how to prevent future strikes.
Professional Transit Management, operator of Sun Tran bus system, and Teamsters Local 104 Union have settled on a two-year contract.
Andrew Marshall with the union said he’s pleased the deal has gotten buses rolling and people back to work. But he said the strike has had an important effect.
"It laid the groundwork, discussion about getting a dedicated funding source for Tucson, which is absolutely a necessity to not have to face this kind of negotiation crisis every year or two," he said.
Marshall proposes a half-cent sales tax increase, with a quarter cent dedicated to public transit and a quarter to police and fire.
City Councilman Steve Kozachik said he agrees with the half-cent sales increase, but wants to split it between roads and buses. Kozachik said this would take pressure off the city budget to pay for transit.
"Writing a check out of a general fund without having any kind of a conversation about how to prioritize the other needs in the city is just not something we can be doing," he said.
Kozachik said transit is the only piece of the city budget that continues to go up every year. He said the sales tax increase would add $50 million a year each for the bus system and road repair.