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Sabino Canyon tram service to temporarily end

Posted at 9:54 PM, Jun 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-26 07:21:04-04

For decades, the Sabino Canyon Tours' trams have brought people from all over the world into the Sonoran Desert, giving them a look at its natural beauty. But on Saturday, June 30, those trams will become a thing of the past.

"For me, the end of this era is kind of, heartbreaking, because I enjoyed it," owner Donn Ricketts said. "I enjoyed meeting many people from around the world."

Since 1986, Ricketts has managed the company that provides the tram service. Starting next week, his company will no longer provide the service. The U.S. Forest Service decided to choose a new provider for the tram service, the Regional Partnering Center.

The new shuttle service will be quieter and electric-powered, according to officials. Until they're in place, there won't be any trams bringing visitors through Sabino Canyon, according to Coronado National Forest spokesperson Heidi Schewel.

"There will be a new shuttle operator, as soon as a special use permit can be issued," Schewel said. "We're anticipating a gap in service that could last a couple of months."

As for any temporary solutions, Schewel says they're exploring opportunities but do not have anything definite at this point.

The lapse in service, while only temporary, does pose a problem for some who rely on the tram to get them to the trails deep into the park.

"I am not as agile as I used to be. I can't walk in this heat the way I used to," visitor Lynn Schmidt said. "There's no way I could make it back here anymore."

Even though the tram service will be temporarily shut down, Schewel says the park will remain open and operational.

"The Sabino Canyon Recreation Area is still open," she said. "Everything will be pretty much the same, as far as recreation opportunities, trails, the visitor's center and so forth, there just won't be a transportation system during this gap."