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Sabino Canyon electric shuttles out of service due to battery issues

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 5:42 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The electric shuttles at Sabino Canyon are failing.

The shuttles were added back in 2019 to provide a clean and sustainable shuttle service. For months, they’ve only been able to use gas-powered shuttles because of a technical issue with the electric shuttles.

It’s the peak season for Sabino Canyon and shuttle rides are selling out each day. Every week, thousands rely on these shuttles to get around.

The Sabino Canyon Crawler is an emission-free electric shuttle designed to protect the area’s natural resources.

“They’re quiet and they’re clean, but they’re also sort of the first of their kind to operate in an area like sabino canyon,” Tucson Electric Power’s Joseph Barrios says.

The shuttles have been out of use for months due to battery issues. The Pima Association of Governments helped establish the shuttle system with the non-profit Regional Partnering Center.

In a statement, they say, “We are working with the battery manufacturer to address the issues. However, when the electrical shuttles are out of service, we use our Forest Service-approved, gas-powered shuttles to provide continued customer access to the Canyon.”

Tucson Electric Power invested in the electric shuttles to demonstrate the sustainability of electric vehicles. They say that new technology can bring new challenges. They believe the delay in repairs could be due to some supply chain issues related the pandemic.

Barrios says, “Sometime next month, they’re going to be brining in some folks from out of town who will make some repairs and upgrades to the canyon crawler electric shuttles so that we can get those up and running again within a number of weeks.”

Until the electric shuttles are back on track, visitors can expect to see gas-powered shuttles.

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