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Electric shuttles could debut before 2020

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Posted at 10:18 PM, Oct 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-05 01:18:53-04

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The anticipation has been growing for more than a year and now.

The electric shuttles at Sabino Canyon are close to making their debut.

Electric shuttle driver Tom Neiburger says he can not wait for the shuttles to launch.

“We are going to be among the first to offer electric shuttle services in national parks across the country. So we are excited about that,” Neiburger told KGUN9.

Shuttle drivers will be training throughout the month to make sure they can operate them properly.

“The technology is just out of this world. I’m really excited to get an opportunity to drive this and I’m really happy that I’m on the ground floor of this,” said Neiburger.

Part of that technology includes a guided tour you can listen to, triggered by a gps signal at every stop.

“I’ve been a driver for my entire life and I’m just fascinated by the way these things work.>

The new shuttles will be open air, just like the old diesel powered ones. Except, these will be all electric and a lot more quiet.

Jeff Hahn, a visitor and volunteer at Sabino Canyon told KGUN9 this new shuttle is going to give people a different experience.

“To be able to hear the birds, to hear commentary from the driver when you encounter a snake on the road...really important for anyone to come and have the full experience here in the canyon,” added Hahn.

All in all, not only is it going to be a lot quieter, but now, the only footprint left behind at Sabino Canyon, will be your own. A reality that Sabino Canyon visitor Patricia Rinker says could not be a better one.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea. I think it’s going to save a lot of money and I think it’s going to be good for our environment. Yeah. I think it’s a great idea.”

Drivers assure, the extra axles on the shuttles and the narrow design makes it easier to handle the curves, go through the narrow bridges, and navigate the steep grades of the canyon.

So far there is no exact date on when the shuttles will officially start running, but a spokesperson with the Colorado National Forest says they will hopefully launch before the end of the year.