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Sabino Canyon shuttle begins operation

Posted at 4:02 PM, Mar 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-18 19:21:33-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - The Sabino Canyon shuttle will operate starting Monday.

The shuttle has not been in use since last June because the canyon is switching to an all-electric system. A transitional, gas-powered system is now in use.

The upper Sabino route will begin at 9 a.m. and leave every half hour. The shuttle will carry as many as 21 passengers.

Tickets on the Sabino route are $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-12 and free for children under age 3.

The Bear Canyon route will start at 9:15 a.m. and also leave every half hour.

Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 3-12 and free for children under age 3.

Only three vehicles will be in operation during the first day. A fourth will be added once repairs are made.

Tickets are available via credit card at the shuttle ticket booth. Customers can pay with cash at the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center.

  • For the Bear Canyon route, shuttles will leave on the quarter hour every 30 minutes beginning at 9:15 a.m., with the last shuttle leaving at 4:15 p.m. Shuttle vehicles will carry up to 21 passengers each. Ticket prices are $6.00 for adults, $4.00 for children aged 3 to 12, and free for children under 3.
  • There will be only 3 vehicles for the first few days of shuttle service on the Upper Sabino Canyon route, due to a windshield being replaced on the fourth vehicle.
  • Tickets may be purchased with credit cards at the shuttle ticket booth or with cash in the Sabino Canyon Visitor Center.

The transitional service, which will be fully compliant with the Coronado National Forest’s vehicle design requirements, will feature 21-passenger, gasoline-powered shuttles that will remain in operation until a full fleet of electric shuttles can be manufactured, delivered, and put into service on the Sabino Canyon route. Due to water level concerns, gasoline-powered vehicles will primarily service Bear Canyon, with electric shuttles being used as feasible on that route.

RPC has ordered the electric shuttles from Trams International, with Tucson Electric Power helping to finance RPC’s purchase of the new vehicles. The zero-emission electric shuttles, expected later this year, will carry passengers safely, quietly, and efficiently through Sabino Canyon, which attracts approximately one million visitors annually. The 62-passenger electric shuttles will be equipped with an audio narration and interpretive system available in English and Spanish and accessed through the use of audio jacks and headsets. For shuttle operations, RPC has entered into a partnership with Total Transit Enterprises (Total Ride), which operates the Regional Transportation Authority’s Sun Shuttle.

“We are pleased to announce that shuttle service is resuming in Sabino Canyon,” said Santa Catalina District Ranger Charles Woodard. “A lot of careful thought and hard work have gone into getting us to this point.”

“We look forward to starting the transitional shuttle service for the public as we continue to work with the Forest Service to bring electric shuttle service to Sabino Canyon later this year,” said Farhad Moghimi, Secretary of RPC.

The transitional shuttle service will operate during the hours stated above, seven days per week. The shuttle service will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas and up to three additional days, as needed, for construction and maintenance.

Any additional information can be found on the Coronado National Forest website.