ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new electric shuttle to take guests around the BioPark should have been up and running this summer. “An electric wheeled tram that’s going to be able to connect guests here from the zoo to the Botanic Gardens, Aquarium, Heritage Farm, Bugarium, Tingley Beach, and vice versa,” Department of Arts & Culture Deputy Director Brandon Gibson said back in 2020.
The proposed electric tram would shuttle as many as 60 people from the zoo to the aquarium. It was supposed to be twice as fast as their original rail train. “Unfortunately, we’ve ran [sic] into some hiccups with contractors and some construction and supply chain issues,” Gibson this year.
He says they’re not immune to the same problems facing other businesses. Gibson says the project that was supposed to be done at the beginning of the summer has been delayed because of supply chain and staffing issues.
“We were hoping to have it live by now and already running, but we’ve had some delays with some contractors; especially on the asphalt paving portion to connect guests from the zoo to the aquarium,” Gibson says. “That stretch along Tingley is currently dirt and we’ve done some test rides with it. It’s a little too bumpy, a little too dusty.”
The BioPark has also switched its original design. The electric shuttle has a new design and there will be two of them.
The zoo hasn’t had a train for about two years because its tracks were removed to get ready for the new shuttle, which needs a paved road. But, that has also been a challenge – the city is having a hard time finding workers to help them finish the asphalt. “We want to get it paved but we’ve been having some contract issues,” says Gibson.
The project will cost more than $1.9 million. “It’s going to be faster, it’s going to be efficient, it’s going to be electric, it’s going to be environmentally friendly,” he says.
As for the rail train, it will return starting in 2023. It’ll loop around the Botanic Gardens. Visitors can’t wait until the new shuttle is all done. “I think Albuquerque and New Mexico, in general, need some more things like that for sure,” says zoo visitor Krysta Escajeda. “Nice things that we can do with our families, it’ll be fun.”
Construction on the pavement for the shuttle will start in October. The city hopes the shuttle will finally be finished in November.