TUCSON - More than 20 prospective vendors toured Sabino Canyon on Tuesday, in light of the open bidding process for running the shuttle service.
“We’re looking for something that will meet visitor expectations,” said Heidi Schewel, Coronado National Forest spokesperson.
Sabino Canyon Tours has been operating the tram service for the past three decades. The environmental assessment conducted in 2016 led to an outpour of public comment regarding the shuttle service.
Candidates will need to meet a number of operational and safety standards outlined by the Coronado National Forest.
"The one thing about the trams that has bothered me a little bit is that they're diesel and they give off some fumes which is kind of inconsistent with what you're after when you're out here walking,” said Tucson resident Bob Auman.
Auman, hikes the trails at least twice a week, is all for an eco-friendly solution such as electric trams. Loud noise coming from the shuttle engines is also a concern addressed in the Forest Service’s prospectus.
"It obviously hasn't disturbed me enough to keep me away because I've walked it probably 500 times,” Auman said.
Donn Ricketts, owner of Sabino Canyon Tours, isn’t pleased with the five-year term permit, saying it's too short. He also takes issue with the outlined liability insurance and requirements that restrict round trips of the Sabino Canyon route.
However, he still plans to apply in hopes to maintain operation of the shuttle system.
An independent panel will recommend the best candidate once the request for proposals are received and reviewed.
To view the full prospectus, click https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd565111.pdf