TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - All around Tucson, exhibitors are setting up for the big annual Gem Shows----and the City of Tucson is gearing up to cut congestion and help people move smoothly from place to place in the massive event.
Because these shows are big business for Tucson, Tucson has made it it's business to make it easy for customers to get around.
It takes a lot of heavy lifting to arrange tons of precious stones and other items going on sale.
And when beautiful items start attracting buyers, parking lots a little congested now, will become really congested.
But gem show exhibitors like Dave McLaws of Western Woods are happy the City of Tucson's working to cut congestion and help customers get in, and start spending money.
"It's way better now than it used to be. It used to be a dog fight. Everyone would come here and park two hours early just to get their parking spot."
The city's set up extra parking, and it will run what it calls the Gem Ride Shuttles on a series of loops along show locations.
There's the Downtown Gem Loop, Tucson Convention Center Express, the Mineral and Fossil Loop, and the Bead Loop, new this year to connect sites for bead collectors.
Convenient transportation for customers helps Julia Andri sell handsome minerals from Madagascar.
"For example, we have one location that's here by the highway, another location on the east side by Palo Verde, by Kino Hospital and the shuttle brings the people between the two locations."
The city's set aside parking just west of I-10, and made sure the shuttles pass other parking too.
Donovan Durband of Parkwise, Tucson's Parking Division says, "You can just hop on the Gem Ride shuttle, which is free and it'll take you to all the shows in the downtown area."
Next year there will be something new in the transportation mix for the Gem Show. The street car being tested now, should be carrying passengers and have about a six month track record by then.