Electric Buses Are Coming to Grand Canyon National Park
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has designated $27.5 million toward replacing buses at Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon National Park Shuttle Bus Fleet Replacement will add 10 new electric buses along with 20 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.
According to the National Park Service, about 6 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year. Visitors rely on the free shuttle bus system to get to the various sites around this popular national park.
The new buses aim to provide reliable bus options as well as charging infrastructure for the battery-electric buses.
“Grand Canyon National Park is one of our most beloved national parks,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “This grant, made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help ensure safe and reliable bus service for park visitors for decades to come.”
Although some of the replacement buses will be electric, most will still be fueled with compressed natural gas. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), compressed natural gas may reduce tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions by around 20%. But CNG is primarily made up of methane, a greenhouse gas that is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration noted that natural gas exploration can have negative environmental impacts, as exploring and drilling for natural gas will disrupt the plants and soil in an area. Producing natural gas also produces contaminated water that requires special handling or it could pollute environments.
Still, the new fleet will replace less efficient and outdated buses, and the project is one of seven to receive grants for transportation improvements. The seven grants total $130.5 million as part of the FHWA’s Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Transportation Projects Program.
“The necessary replacement of the outdated shuttle bus fleet is an opportunity to upgrade to cleaner, quieter electric buses,” Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Ed Keable said. “This project will address transportation challenges related to maintaining an aging fleet, and the NPS goal to achieve sustainable transportation alternatives.”
Some other projects that received grants include the US93 Dublin Gulch Road to Gunlock Road project in Montana, which will see construction of a new bridge and wildlife collision reduction infrastructure, and Ecusta Rail Trail, a 18.8-mile shared-use path in North Carolina. The funding was made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which passed in 2021.