Yellowstone National Park is announcing a new, low-speed shuttle system, and it could be here as soon as Summer of 2021.
Florida-based company Beep, Inc. is constructing the auto-shuttle for Yellowstone. If all goes to plan, the train will serve Canyon Village Campground, and visitor services & lodging. The service, however, isn’t just for show.
The park believes having automatic transportation to-and-from its most popular campground will ease traffic during the summer months. Popular roads in the park can peak at 30% over capacity, according to Yellowstone. Traffic is at its worst in July and hits hard at the West Entrance to Madison Junction. In addition, the Madison Junction to Old Faithful and to Norris Junction also see bad traffic spikes in summer. Old Faithful to West Thumb and Norris Junction to Canyon Village gets congested, as well.
“Yellowstone and the NPS are proactively engaging with emerging transportation technologies by looking for ways to test, pilot and learn from these capabilities,” says Cam Sholly. Sholly is Yellowstone Superintendent, and clarifies the shuttle in a press release. “We will continue exploring possible ways to reduce congestion and to improve visitor experience and access in heavily travelled areas of the park.”
Yellowstone Decides on Auto-Shuttle to Ease Traffic
In the past, Yellowstone has sought out several different methods to alleviate traffic. Some of these ideas, like having extra staff in congesting parking areas, have panned out. In 2019, such a project took place at Norris Junction. Park staff was on hand to help test overflow parking off Grand Loop Road. Their efforts paid off, and the project was able to show staffing “can help visitors safely access areas where parking is limited”.
In addition, Yellowstone will also be conducting a long-term transit study with the NPS Intermountain Regional Alternative Transportation Program. The NPS Denver Service Center and the DOT Volpe Center will also join the project.
The undertaking won’t wrap up until 2022. Until then, the agencies will assess the risk and cost of additional shuttles for Yellowstone. The National Park is showing particular interest in adding more trams around Old Faithful and Canyon Village.
For potential summer-bound park visitors, this could all be a game-changer. Auto-trains would also help keep traffic and park wildlife separate, as well.
[H/T Bozeman Daily Chronicle]