Sandia Peak Tram to begin extended closure for major upgrades

Sandia Peak Tram planning major upgrades, extended closure

The new year is bringing new upgrades to the Sandia Peak Tramway. The popular tourist attraction will shut down for nearly 2 months.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Sandia Peak Tram will close for two months, beginning Tuesday, as crews make some major updates and upgrades to the system.

The popular tourist attraction will shut down for nearly two months. Crews will install a new motor and computer operating system, according to general manager Michael Donovan.

“It’s a very exciting time for us. A big modernization of the system,” Donovan said.

The Tram will shut down on Jan. 9 and stay closed through mid-March. The tentative reopening date is March 14.

Donovan confirmed it will be the tram’s longest closure since 1997. He says the roughly $1 million project will replace the original motor and hybrid analog/digital operating system. Crews installed that system while originally building the tram in 1966.

“There have been upgrades to that system with more current relays and information, but moving into the future, we just think this is a better avenue,” he said.

Donovan says the upgrades have been in the works for seven years. However, the pandemic delayed that.

A team of Swiss engineers will to fly out to Albuquerque to help install the new motor and digital operating system. Donovan says the new system will provide operators with much more data about the tram’s operations.

“We’ll be having cameras on the towers and weather stations so that we’ll get more real-time information being fed to the console operator and be able to drive the tram in a lot of different conditions more effectively,” Donovan said.

Donovan says the new system will also provide diagnostic data. That will help crews make repairs faster.

“It’s very similar to what cars are going through today,” he said. “A mechanic can plug in and get diagnostic information just makes the car much more reliable and robust.”

Visitors won’t notice many changes once the tram reopens in the spring; however, Donovan says the new system will allow the tram to travel up and down the mountain slightly faster.

“Probably somewhere in around the 13 and a half to 14 minutes compared to 15 minutes today,” he said.

The restaurant at Sandia Peak – Ten 3 – will also close during the upgrades. He says many of the employees will work temporary jobs at Ski Santa Fe during the closure.

He added hikers and snowshoers planning to utilize the tram to access trails at Sandia Peak or travel down the mountain after trekking upwards should rethink their plans during the tram’s closure.

Donovan says the new upgrades will help ensure the tram’s operational future.

“The Sandia Peak Tram is like an icon of all of Albuquerque,” Donovan said. “We’re excited that this is the first step we’re taking that the tram will be around for years to come.”