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Wyler Aerial Tramway Seeing Unprecedented Numbers

The Wyler Aerial Tramway set a new record this week with single-day visitors. On Thursday more than 420 people rode the gondolas that make the park one of the most unique attractions in El Paso.

What makes the feat more impressive is that the news comes roughly six months after Texas lawmakers announced cuts across the board for state parks, including the tramway.

In July, Wyler Superintendent Humberto Quinonez told ABC-7 that he was forced to let go five employees to cut costs. At the same time it was announced that the tramway would condense its schedule from five days down to a Friday through Sunday operation. It totaled a cost of roughly $125,000.

On Thursday the aerial tramway remained open specifically to cater to a boom in tourists, thanks to the 2011 Hyundai Sun Bowl. Quinonez says that decision has been important to show the attractiveness the tramway still holds.

?There are a lot of people out of the city visiting the area and we?re taking advantage by opening up the tramway,? said Quinonez.

He went on to say that he and his park rangers are hoping to break the record once again within the week.

?They?re slowly trickling into the city so we?re expecting to have more by tomorrow,? said Quinonez.

Among those trickling in was Mark Smith. Smith, a Fort Bliss soldier, has ridden the tramway to Ranger?s Peak once before; but wanted to bring his family visiting from Tennessee this weekend.

?It?s a beautiful sight,? said Smith. ?It?s an amazing sight to see Juarez and all of Fort Bliss.?

He was hardly alone in his amazement at the views on Friday. Others gushed at the one-of-a-kind views atop the Peak.

?It?s just fantastic, this city really is a beautiful one,? said Truclam Nguyen with her husband by her side, both visiting from Austin.

For park manager Quinonez, those comments are music to his ears.

?It?s always such a pleasure to be able to send some of these people up,? said Quinonez. ?When they come back they have a smile of satisfaction that tells you they enjoyed their ride.?

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