Efforts to cool friction between City of Tucson and RTA

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The friction between the City of Tucson and the Regional Transportation Authority is getting downright strange.

After the city didn't take action on moving Sun Tran to the RTA's control, the administrator of the RTA started making threats.

Thursday, efforts were made to calm things down.

During a break in action at Wednesday's city council study session. RTA executive director Gary Hayes confronted Tucson City Manager Mike Letcher. What ensued was finger pointing, and an angry exchange in which Hayes threatened to pull the plug on the modern streetcar project.

"It was heated. I was not happy and he was not happy," said Hayes.

I understand he was upset. And I'm not gonna hold that against him," said Letcher.

Now that tempers have cooled, Hayes admits the streetcar project is not in jeopardy, "No, absolutely not."

Tempers flared between Hayes, Letcher, and members of the city council due to failed efforts by the RTA to acquire the Sun Tran bus system from the City of Tucson.

It's what the striking teamsters want, but the city calls it a bad deal.

"There's a lot of financial nuances here that are very problematic in terms of the RTA proposal," said Letcher.

Wednesday, the council opted instead to negotiate with the RTA board rather than with Gary Hayes himself, "It's not that we don't want to negotiate and we don't want to talk about this, but i think it's only fair for the RTA board to hear the concerns that the mayor and council have."

The response from Hayes, speaking on behalf of RTA board chair Lynne Skelton, "I have been designated to negotiate on behalf of the RTA, and that was her position."

As the city, Gary Hayes, and the RTA board attempt to hash out their differences, the strike continues as the teamsters wait for a guarantee of job security they think they'll get with the RTA.

the teamsters have made a choice to insert themselves in this, and that's something they have to deal. that's not our problem.

The RTA board has called a special meeting tomorrow at 3 P.M. To address the concerns raised by the Tucson city council, that's in addition to another meeting already scheduled for next Thursday.