By Robert Thompson
Zion National Park has announced a plan to reduce congestion in the park by beginning a mandatory bus system on May 23.
Although the new plan will require park visitors between April and November to park their cars and board buses to view some of the park’s most popular attractions, the plan has received a positive response, said Denny Davies, public information officer for Zion National Park.
“There was overwhelming support for the new plan,” Davies said. “About 99 percent (of the responses) were extremely positive.”
The new busing system was established to help park officials accommodate the 2.5 million visitors that visit Zion National Park annually.
According to the Zion National Park Web site, the park “is being overwhelmed” by not just congestion problems but also “lack of parking places, air and noise pollution, and damage to natural resources.”
Park officials hope the new bus system will solve many of the problems that have been caused by the effects of heavy traffic in Zion National Park, without limiting the number of visitors that can visit the popular attraction.
“We can accommodate people better than vehicles,” Davies said.
With the new busing plan, the park service is “not just reducing congestion, but also noise and pollution,” Davies said.
In 1860, Mormon pioneers named the area where the park is “Zion” after a Hebrew word meaning “a place of safety or refuge.”
But with noise that comes from heavy traffic, the park’s atmosphere is “anything but peaceful,” Davies said.
Since the new buses will be powered by propane, the noise created by them will be considerably less than vehicles powered by gasoline.
Park officials also expect a reduction in air pollution by using the buses. Davies estimates that the pollution created by more than 20 vehicles can be eliminated by one propane-powered bus.