If you're coming as a tourist: yes, you do need a car. The most popular sites in the city, such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon are virtually inaccessible without a private car. Public transit just does not reach them.
However, as a resident, it is very possible to navigate the city on the area's bus systems (yes, "systems" as in the plural) and get around without a car.
The easiest areas to deal with on the city's bus system, SunTran, are the area around the UA campus and Downtown. At UA, various buses cruise the perimeter and many stop at the large bus stop on the UA Mall (University Blvd east of Cherry), although not all of them. The center of activity Downtown is the Ronstadt Transit Center, although many routes can easily be caught from other, more active stops, such as the stop on Broadway west of Church.
SunTran operates two types of service: local and express. Unlike many other systems, there is no difference in fare structure between the two (with the exception of the two express routes running to the Raytheon in southern Tucson, which are slightly more) and the fare structure is consistent for peak periods. $1.25 at all times on almost all buses. A transfer can be obtained from the driver when the fare is paid. The transfer is good for a few hours but cannot be used on the same route in the opposite direction. An unlimited day pass is also available for $2.50. There is also an unlimited monthly pass available for purchase at one of the transit centers around town (Ronstadt in Downtown, Laos in southern Tucson and Tohono Tadai near the Tucson Mall) during the information kiosk's business hours.
If you're working in Tucson, many organizations offer discounts on bus passes. For instance, Pima County offers a significant discount on monthly passes. UA has its own pass available for students, staff and faculty which can be purchased through the Parking and Transportation Services office (or on their web site at parking.arizona.edu), and is available by semester (Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer) or by academic year (renewable each July).
SunTran is one of the most punctual bus systems I've encountered, especially for such a small system. On the printed schedules, timed stops are followed almost exactly, particularly on the express routes.
Express routes operate Monday thru Friday, excluding holidays, in the mornings going into town and late afternoons coming out of town only. In the more outlying areas, express route stops are typically flanked by free park & ride lots. Large shopping centers are usually good for this.
Local routes operate seven days per week, but on limited schedules on Saturdays and further limited schedules on Sundays and holidays. All local routes currently operate 7 days per week.
Routes generally run along the larger streets in the grid system. Most larger streets have at least one route. Transfers at intersections are common, but at transit centers (often the route's terminus) are more common.
Ridership, as with most public transit, is mixed. Although peppered with the homeless and drug addicts, peak periods are often mostly workers and students. Buses to the south side of the city are often the most crowded and any bus to a high school campus (particularly the #3, which hits two separate high schools) will be particularly crowded near school start/release times.
There are three other bus systems in the area though:
- CatTran: UA's shuttle system operated by Parking and Transportation Services. The Orange, USA and Mauve routes are the most useful for off-campus travel as they provide travel to their destinations. Orange travels north on Mountain Avenue to Prince Road, USA travels to Downtown and Mauve heads south to the Broadway/Campbell intersection. Outbound travel is unrestricted, but inbound travel on the Orange and Mauve lines requires a pass which is only available to UA student, staff or faculty residents of the areas served. Orange and Mauve do not run in the summer while USA does. http://parking.arizona.edu/alternative/cattran.php
(TICET Red line no more because of budget cuts)
Arizona Sunshine Tours & 3 Canyons Transit Co will provide for your transportation and touring needs around Southeastern Arizona. They provide a daily Tucson Airport Shuttle (with a complementary driving tour along the way!) to points south including Sierra Vista, Fort Huachuca, Tombstone, Bisbee, Sonoita & Patagonia (Arizona Wine Country), Benson and Kartchner Caverns, Texas Canyon and more!
They offer both INDIVIDUAL and GROUP travel in comfortable well equipped vehicles.
Forget the expense of a rental car and relax and enjoy the journey with your own personal guide and driver...
Check out their website (shuttle or tour page) and click on the "Concierge Tour Planning" button for affordabe half day, full day and overnight trips from Tucson or Sierra Vista (an excellent hub for day trips!)
Helpful links for area attractions around "The Land of Legends" : www.explorecochise.com
and Safe Travels...
Tucson's bus system is slow, and unreliable. Let alone, the homeless and scary people that ride the buses make the trip even more daunting. Distances are great, and you can have a bust stop ever half a mile, so sometimes you have to walk a distance to your destination after getting off the bus. Driving your own car is the best bet. Downtown driving is very confusing. Lot's of one-way streets and crazy drivers. Traffic on the freeways isn't to bad unless we get an accident or it rains. You sould see the traffic jams we get when it sprinkles. 1 1/2 hour commutes..... It's ridiculous. Cabs are expensive. Just going a few blocks can cost you over 5 bucks. I took a cab home one time from downtown (4 miles) and it cost me twenty bucks!! Half the drivers don't know where their going anyway, so make sure you know the directions to where your going.
You will need to rent a car. Also you will need to develop some "super hero" patience because driving is a headache in this town. There is only one highway, I-10, that goes East/West. If you want to move North/South you will be doing it on streets in heavy traffic. God help you if it rains because the locals are not used to driving in it.
No public transportation is available to or within either district of Saguaro National Park.
You must rent a car in Tucson to get there. Hmm... there are many car rental agencies in Tucson to choose from.
I didn't rent a car there I did rent my Buick Century at Budget rent a car agency in San Diego. And I was very satisfied about Budget. So, you can try to rent your car at Budget (6 locations including at Tucson Airport):
Budget in Tucson
Do you look for something cheapest? Check VT link "Cars" at the top of this page and choose " Orbitz - Save on Car Rentals" - it's Orbitz, VT Affiliate - click here
The best way to get around is with a car. The public transit system is not very good. Tucson is sprawled out so you may find yourself going from one end to the other in the course of a day. In the summer traffic is not too bad because the students and the snowbirds are gone. In the wintertime, traffic is very heavy especially on Grant Rd., Campbell Ave., Ina Rd. & Oracle Rd. Try to avoid them if possible.
Tucson is very much an automobile town. There are some buses, but I cannot imagine how long it must take to get from one end of town to the other via bus.
The problem with Tucson is its sprawl. There is nothing but desert on all sides, so nothing has impeded the sprawl of development. As a result it might take an hour to get from the northwest corner of Tucson to the southeast corner. There are no intercity highways to make the job any easier.
On the plus side, Tucson is ruled by the grid system for its streets and it is virtually impossible to get lost.
The best way to get to Tucson is either by airplane, train, bus, or automobile.
Once you have arrived, it is recommended that you rent a car. The towns/cities aren't close by like they are in some states. IE Tucson to Phoenix is a two hour drive with very little in between.
FLy to Phoenix or Tucson. You definately need a car to get around..
The traffic is gradually increasing, and I have to be honest some of the worst drivers on the planet are here..so be careful! The bus service is okay, but it doesn't go everywhere. Cabs are pretty good, although they can be pricey.
Drive! Rent a car and drive everywhere you can! The scenery is beautiful! .
Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Tucson
4 Reviews and 703 Opinions We stayed here for the first 4 days of January 2009. The hotel is beatuifully layed out and blends...
Tanque Verde Ranch Tucson
4 Reviews and 308 Opinions Tanque Verde Ranch is an all-inclusive ranch resort and there is always something to do!! All...
6 Reviews and 1186 Opinions I have stayed here multiple times and always experience it the same way. Nice but not too nice....