What's next for the trams at Sabino Canyon?

What's next for the trams at Sabino Canyon?
Riders on Sabino Canyon tram. (Source: Tucson News Now)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The owner of the current tram service at Sabino Canyon expects he will be out of a job, and likely his home, by the springtime.

Donn Ricketts, with Sabino Canyon Tours, said he was open to making 75 percent of the suggested changes to the tram service he operated for nearly 30 years but he ran out of time.

Ricketts took the U.S. Forest Service to court following a USFS prospectus for new tram operators. Heidi Schewel, a spokeswoman for Coronado National Forest, which includes Sabino Canyon, said no comments could be shared while the issue is tied up in court.

An initial press release about the search for new tram operators stated that a decision would likely happen in February after the search closed in January. The search was extended for two more weeks, but Ricketts expects he'll know his fate by February.

He said his small business cannot compete with proposals like the one submitted by the Regional Partnering Center (RPC), which is managed by the Pima Association of Governments (PAG).

The $2.5 million proposal calls for Total Transit, the same contractor that manages the Sun Shuttle system, to handle electric trams at Sabino Canyon. A release from PAG states the five zero-emission trams would be connected to "new urban transit routes".

A $1 million interest-free loan from Tucson Electric Power will come from TEP's corporate resources, not customer rates, to help cover the cost of the proposal.

Other organizations partnering with the RPC in this venture include Friends of Sabino Canyon, Public Lands Interpretive Association, the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection and the University of Arizona College of Science.

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