When you think of U.S. National Parks, you probably don’t imagine riding a bus, but with today’s crowds, it’s a great way to avoid gridlock traffic. Zion National Park says they’ve seen so much use of their buses that they just had their 90 millionth rider.
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Zion is the U.S.’s third most popular national park to visit, according to visitation numbers. The Utah park is known for its canyons and steep red cliffs. Last year, Zion saw nearly 4.7 million people. The staggering crowds reported at National Park Service (NPS) sites all over the U.S. have also hit Zion. However, this isn’t new; the park has seen a steady increase in visitation for the last few decades. The idea to implement the buses came in the year 2000.
“The Zion Canyon Shuttle System has been essential in our work conserving this special place so that visitors can enjoy it forever,” said Jeff Bradybaugh, Zion National Park Superintendent, in a press release. “This was a significant change in how we addressed increasing visitation in Zion Canyon. This milestone demonstrates how successful its operation has been. I am thankful to the women and men who operate our shuttle system, providing safe and efficient transportation to thousands of park visitors every day.”
Bus ridership peaked in 2021 with 5 million riders.
The park has used the same buses for more than 20 years now, but a grant will soon change that. Park officials say Zion received $33 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to replace its buses with new battery-electric transit buses. Additional funding will come from the local communities surrounding Zion and the Zion National Park Forever Project, the park’s official non-profit partner.