One year ago , in the midst of Spring Break 2022, the Sedona Shuttle became the City of Sedona’s first foray into public transportation, when it launched its trailhead shuttle routes, serving four popular trailheads from two park and ride lots. Since that time, the Sedona Shuttle has been used by well over a quarter million passengers and has grown to provide service to five trailheads from three park and ride locations.
The trailhead service is the first phase in creation of a multi-faceted transit system which will enhance mobility for residents and visitors throughout Sedona. It was implemented with several immediate objectives:
- Make it easier for residents and visitors to get to popular trailheads in a safe and sustainable way.
- Protect the fragile environment around trailheads by reducing the number of vehicles.
- Reduce parking in neighborhoods near trailheads.
- Reduce danger to pedestrians and traffic safety around key trailheads –Cathedral Rock, Soldiers Pass Trail, Dry Creek, Mescal, Little Horse.
According to the emails we’ve gotten from residents and hikers, the Sedona Shuttle has succeeded in accomplishing these objectives.
“Thank you for implementing the Sedona Shuttle. For the 1st time we can hear the birds in our trees! The air is cleaner not having the constant circling of vehicles in the neighborhood. The roads are safer for the pedestrians that choose to walk to the trail. Thank you for giving us back our neighborhood.” Soldier Pass Residents
“The shuttles have brought our neighborhood immeasurable relief. My wife and I used to live in constant fear of what would happen if her heart condition acted up during daylight hours when no ambulance could have gotten through the constant crazy gridlock. That problem is now 100% solved. Our street is calmer, our visiting hikers are happier, it all just works! As Sedona remains a popular destination, I hope the city builds out a robust shuttle system that will bring calm to all of our neighborhoods.” Back O’ Beyond Resident
“I really appreciate the shuttle service to the busy trailheads. I am a longtime area hiker and have avoided those trailheads. The shuttle allowed me to become reacquainted with trailheads and trails I haven't been on in a while. This morning I hiked from Dry Creek Vista to the Soldier Pass Trailheads, and used the shuttle to get back to the Dry Creek Vista Trailhead (and my car). It was perfect! Timely, clean, comfortable, no hassle.” Local hiker
“So far, the trail shuttle system has had a positive impact on our calls for service, and the amount of personally owned vehicles on our roads is noticed. Officers are responding to less calls at the trailheads which has been a time saver for us. We have heard positive remarks from visitors and citizens, and our patrol officers hand out the route maps and give information to the public.” Karl Waak, City of Sedona Police Department
“The Sedona Shuttle is an incredible success story. In its first year of service, it has already provided as many passenger trips as 18 other rural Arizona transit system collectively. We need to take a moment to recognize that.” Tod Morris, NACOG
Strong Ridership from Day One
Because the Sedona Shuttle launched in the middle of Sedona’s busiest season, it experienced standing loads from day one. While the service is operated with just four buses and has run only 222 days during the past year, it has carried 283,952 passengers, representing 35.5 passenger boardings for each hour of bus service provided.
That’s more than about 1250 passengers per day who are having a safe easy hiking experience, instead of clogging neighborhoods, parking unsafely on roadsides and driving around frustrated searching for parking.
Transit Administrator Robert Weber notes, “While ridership has fluctuated with the seasons and the number of people hiking, it continues to grow and to exceed our projections.”
Added Bonus: Carbon Reductions
Given the ridership of more than 283,000 passengers, city staff estimates that the Sedona Shuttle trailhead buses have reduced emissions by 286 metric tons of CO2e in their first year alone.
Why Trailhead Routes?
The Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Transit Implementation Plan describes a network of shuttle routes and on-demand transit serving the greater Verde Valley. Many people asked why the trailhead routes were the first service to be implemented. City Manager, Karen Osburn, notes that this was in direct response to pleas from the community. “Residents in neighborhoods where popular trailheads are located were being overrun with traffic as more and more people tried to access the trails. People were parking illegally, unsafely, and in ways that damage the fragile environment. We felt that the City needed to address the situation immediately, and the Sedona Shuttle’s trailhead routes were the solution.”
“The introduction of the Sedona Shuttle has not only provided residents and visitors with an easy way to access the trailheads, but it has allowed the National Forest Service to limit parking in areas that were being degraded by vehicle traffic. Together, these factors have made Sedona a more sustainable environment while we work to implement the rest of the plan.”
Verde Shuttle in Sedona
Many people think that the trailhead routes are Sedona’s only transit service. But that’s not quite true. The City also helps fund the Verde Shuttle which, in addition to connecting Sedona and Cottonwood, provides hop-on, hop-off service throughout Sedona, every hour, 7-days-a-week from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM.
For only $1.00 per ride ($.50 for seniors), residents and visitors can hop on and off the Verde Shuttle at more than 30 locations throughout Sedona– including stops near all the major destinations and hotels. Each stop is clearly signed, and many have shelters and seating - so they are easy to find. And the Verde Shuttle vehicles are brand new, easy to spot and climate controlled for year-round comfort. Plus, the vehicles are wheelchair accessible and have bike racks. Complete information about the Verde Shuttle can be found at www.VerdeShuttle.com.
What’s Next for Sedona Shuttle
In the fall of 2023, Sedona Shuttle will introduce Sedona Shuttle Connect, an app-enabled, on-demand transit service which will provide rides within the city. Residents or visitors will be able to request a shuttle using an app or by phone. For a low fare, it will pick them up at their home or hotel and take them almost anywhere in Sedona, including to the trailhead shuttle stops. Like other Sedona Shuttle vehicles, the Connect vehicles will be wheelchair accessible. Visit SedonaShuttle.com for the latest information on Sedona Shuttle Connect.