Grand Canyon National Park shuttle stop at Monument Creek Vista. Michael Quinn/NPS
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The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has allocated $27.5 million to replace buses in Grand Canyon National Park. The replacement of Grand Canyon National Park’s shuttle fleet will add 10 new electric buses as well as 20 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.
According to the National Park Service, about 6 million people visit the Grand Canyon every year. Visitors rely on the free shuttle 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 battery electric buses.
“Grand Canyon National Park is one of our most beloved national parks,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. said in a press release. “This grant, made possible by President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, 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 continue to run on compressed natural gas. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), compressed natural gas can reduce tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions about 20%. But CNG is mostly made up of methane, a greenhouse gas that 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
The United States Energy Information Administration has noted that natural gas exploration may have negative environmental impacts, as exploration and drilling for natural gas will disturb the plants and soil of an area. Natural gas production also produces contaminated water that requires special handling or could pollute environments.
Still, the new fleet will replace less efficient and outdated buses, and the project is one of seven to receive transport improvement grants. The seven grants total $130.5 million under FHWA’s Nationally Important Federal Lands and Tribal Transportation Projects program.
“The necessary replacement of the outdated shuttle fleet is an opportunity to transition to cleaner, quieter electric buses,” said Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Ed Keable. “This project will address the transportation challenges of maintaining an aging fleet and the NPS’s goal of finding sustainable transportation alternatives.”
Some other projects that received grants include the US93 Dublin Gulch Road to Gunlock Road project in Montana, which will see the construction of a new bridge and wildlife strike reduction infrastructure, and Ecusta Rail Trail, an 18.8-mile shared-use path in North Carolina. Funding was made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure ActWho pass in 2021.