The first all-electric vehicle for Sabino Canyon has arrived!
The full story may never be told about how we have arrived at this special moment in the history of the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. But that moment is here.
Beginning on Wednesday September 4, 2019 preliminary testing will begin on the first of the new fleet of five all-electric Sabino Canyon passenger shuttles. Additional shuttles will be arriving over the next several months. Full roll out of all the new Shuttles is still months away, but it is no longer years away. The Interim Shuttles continue to operate, and business has been brisk. Payment kiosks have been installed and have been working well. Advance payment for specific scheduled rides is now possible, and a website enabling the public to schedule and pay for rides prior to arriving is launching soon.
There was an open competition held in January 2018, and the RPC (the Regional Partnering Center) won the competition between entities that were bidding for the right to operate a shuttle system in Sabino. The electric shuttles are custom built for Sabino. The five shuttles were placed on order by the RPC exactly one year ago.
The RPC has deep roots in Tucson. It is a non-profit partnership between the Pima Association of Governments (PAG), the Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP), and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA). TEP gifted significant funds, and an additional interest free loans to make this purchase possible. Total Transit has been operating the temporary Shuttle buses since early summer of this year under contract to the RPC and will continue in that role when the new Electric Shuttle fleet goes live.
Beginning in 2015, the Friends of Sabino Canyon (FOSC) took a very active interest in trying to get us here. In its own small ways, FOSC’s efforts included: making FOIA requests to the USFS for many hundreds of public comments about the old shuttle, analyzing and disseminating that data, and encouraging public enthusiasm and letter writing to argue for opening a competition to bring about a legal end to the old fossil fuel powered shuttles. FOSC began many of these initiatives after successfully working with staff of the US Congressional District 2 office to encourage the FS to open the new permit to competition.
For more information on Friends of Sabino Canyon’s role in the new shuttle check out our previous article – Recent projects.