Zion National Park Is Replacing Its Shuttle Bus Fleet With EVs
Places such as Zion National Park are maintained to give us a way to explore nature. Many parks like Zion run tour buses to help interpret the landscape, wildlife, and other facets of the park. They are also a necessity to reduce park traffic. However, they do contribute to both noise and atmospheric pollution.
In February 2021, park officials announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation granted Zion National Park $33 million to replace its 21-year-old fleet of shuttle buses with 26 electric shuttles. They will also be adding 27 charging stations for the public.
Replacing Zion National Park’s aging fleet
The current fleet has been in service for over 21 years. Like all heavily used vehicles, they are starting to show their age and replacement is inevitable.
Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh commented, “The new equipment consists of quiet, zero-emission buses that will help to further improve the visitor experience and demonstrate National Park Service leadership in environmental sustainability.”
The shuttle system was initially put in place to aid mobility, and traffic in the park.
Senator Mitt Romney explained, “Their shuttle system is paramount to alleviating traffic problems and offering visitors access to parts of the park like Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. With this grant, the park will be able to replace their shuttle system, which will in turn provide economic opportunity for Washington, Kane, and Iron counties, including the town of Springdale, and allow for continued and expanded access to visitors.”
Environmental impact and time frame
The project will take several years to implement. The buses must be ordered and manufactured, so they will gradually replace the current fleet. However, the engineering and service connections for the first phase of electric charging stations are complete. The charging stations will give greater access to those wishing to visit the park in their electric vehicles.
The park estimates this improvement will result in a reduction of 192 metric tons of CO2 annually. Further, it will improve the visitor experience and wildlife health by reducing noise pollution. One study suggests that traffic noise has a significant effect on the populations and health of various animals.
Amanda Rowland, Public Information Officer for Zion, gave a statement to Outside. “The new buses will be very quiet,” said Rowland. “Right now, you can hear the buses from trails in the park, including Angels Landing. The improvements in soundscapes should be noticeable to park visitors, birds, and other wildlife in Zion Canyon.”
Plan your trip
Just like the EV market, visitation to Zion National Park is growing fast. It recently surpassed both Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks to become the nation’s fourth most visited National Park. If Zion is on your RV road trip in the coming years, you might find that the park is a little quieter, and the wildlife is easier to spot.
The shuttle system is an excellent way to avoid traffic and parking issues in the park. The video below explains how best to use the park’s shuttle system to get in and around.
Are you planning an RV trip to Zion or any other National Park this summer? Make the trip planning and navigation process easy. RV LIFE Trip Wizard can help you plan your route while the RV LIFE app gives turn-by-turn RV-safe directions.