As one of the nation’s most visited parks, Zion National Park faces challenges that come with large numbers of visitors, along with the opportunity to demonstrate to those visitors the importance of environmental sustainability.
With support from the National Park Foundation (NPF) Zion is rolling out electric buses in the park’s shuttle bus fleet. Initiatives such as this are advancing the park’s sustainability efforts and enabling visitors to be part of the solution when they visit the park.
Supporting Purchase of Electric-Battery Park Buses
A grant from NPF helped Zion National Park fund the replacement of its entire shuttle bus fleet with new battery-electric buses, which have begun to hit park roads to shuttle visitors into Zion Canyon and the town of Springdale.
The park’s existing propane-powered buses had been in use since the park launched its shuttle bus system in 2000 to reduce overcrowding and parking problems and protect vegetation and other park resources. More than two decades later, with repair parts increasingly hard to find, the original fleet needed to be replaced.
Analyses of finances, fuels, and maintenance options pointed the park in the direction of zero-tailpipe emission battery-electric buses and charging stations as the best path forward to replace the aging bus fleet.
Zion received a $33 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and leveraged a $500,000 grant from NPF in 2021 to help with the matching requirement for that grant, in addition to funds from NPS, local jurisdictions, and the Zion National Park Forever Project, the park’s official nonprofit partner. The project was met with broad, bipartisan support at local, state, and federal levels.
The shuttle buses have started to come online at the park, and soon enough, the millions of visitors who hop on Zion buses each year will be riding on much quieter vehicles with no emissions from tailpipes – improving both the visitor experience and environmental sustainability.
More broadly, the National Park Service (NPS) aims to transition 100% of its eligible federal fleet across the national park system to zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Zion National Park’s transition to electric buses aligns with NPS’ Green Parks Plan goal to ‘Green Our Rides.’