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Zion National Park Is Replacing Its Shuttle Bus Fleet With EVs

shuttle sign in Zion National Park

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 Trip Wizard can help you plan your route while the RV LIFE app gives turn-by-turn RV-safe directions.

Author Levi Henley Avatar

Levi Henley

Levi Henley and his wife, Natalie, workamp around the country in their 26-foot motorhome. Along with writing for RV magazines, they recently published their first book together, Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It. They share their experiences and RV-related tips on their own blog as well as videos on their YouTube Channel, also called Henley's Happy Trails.

4 thoughts on “Zion National Park Is Replacing Its Shuttle Bus Fleet With EVs

  1. I hate to burst Zion’s, or anyone’s else’s bubble, but EVs are not all that they’re advertised. Mining lithium for batteries plus how they are charged (i.e. via coal plants) can adversely effect an EV’s impact on the environment. In the end, manufacturing an EV generates more CO2 emissions than building a conventional car. Add to that, the environmental hazards associated with the disposal of used batteries, it’s a wash.

  2. Did you know that the electricity that will charge the buses comes from coal powered generation? Is the calculation of 192 metric tons of CO2 reduction just from bus replacement within the park without calculation of the CO2 release from the power plant?

  3. Electric buses cost much, much more than diesels to purchase and have shorter lives. Plus they require charging infrastructure that costs more and is unsightly to boot. And the required thousands of pounds of batteries increase weight that will “impact” the roadways. And electrics have proven to have decreased reliability compared to the comparatively simple gas or diesels due to the required electronic switchgear, especially in high heat summers. Plus they are difficult to start off smoothly, have no engine braking and are pretty unsafe to drive on icy roadways in the winter. And onroad animal collisions will increase as animals will have less audible warning. And the greenhouse emissions are similar, just moved to power plants. And do you know how much ecological and human damage is caused in the creation in China of these batteries? What about the loss of American jobs by sourcing much of the manufacture to China? Otherwise they serve as great virtue signals!

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