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Jul 25, 2014 1:18 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Excitement builds on streetcar eve

TUCSON - City officials expect thousands of people to ride the SunLink streetcar Friday morning.

Shellie Ginn has been the project manager more the 10 years.

"I'm not sleeping tonight," she said. "I'm going to be excited, worried, anxious, thrilled and not have a chance to sleep at all."

The first car will leave the Mercado District on the West Side around 7 a.m. The main celebration will be at Congress Street and 5th Avenue around 9 a.m. The public can start riding around 10 a.m.

Ginn said people can expect long lines and crowded cars this weekend, but she hopes that does not discourage future riders.

Rides are free through Sunday. A one-way ride is regularly $1.50. A day pass costs $4. A 30-day ticket is $42. Enforcement officers will mostly educate riders at first, but will give citations in the future.

SunLink has thoroughly tested all 8 cars simultaneously, even trying to put the maximum load of 150 passengers on board. But that doesn't mean the first few days will run perfectly.

"There's always a surprise or two that happens when you go live," Ginn said. "We have tested everything. We've tried to test it over and over, worse case scenarios, tried to break it, so to speak."

There are 18 stops along the 4-mile route that runs from the Mercado District through the University of Arizona campus.

City officials say 100,000 people live, work or go to school along the route, which also has 11,000 parking spaces.

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