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Free Canyon Shuttle

Grand Canyon National Park's free shuttle bus season will run from March 12 through October 17, 1999, the same number of days as 1998, and an increase of 35 days over the 1997 season.

Last year the park added two months of service to that of the 1997 season and expanded service to Yaki Point and the South Kaibab trailhead. Service to both Yaki Point and the South Kaibab trailhead will also be included in th 1998 season. The extension of service has been made possible by congressional additions to the park's operating and capital budgets. Further expansion of the park's free shuttle bus system will continue over the next several years and will be an integral part of the overall transportation system for Grand Canyon's South Rim Village.

In addition to an expanded season, the park will shorten time between buses by about five minutes on the West Rim and Village Loop drives which should result in shorter lines and shorter waits.

Three electric buses that came on line during the 1997 will primarily provide service to Yaki Point and the South Kaibab trailhead. These battery-powered buses are the beginning of the park's move toward lower emission vehicles. In addition to these quiet, cleaner-running buses, the park is also in the process of converting half of its existing fleet to liquefied natural gas (LNG) engines, further reducing visible emissions and other pollutants within the park. The first bus to be converted to LNG will start the new season, with six more buses being converted and coming on line during the 1998 season.

The Yaki Point/South Kaibab buses will stop at the Bright Angel Lodge, Maswik Transportation Center and Yavapai Lodge (Business Center) bus stops en route to Yaki Point overlook and South Kaibab trailhead from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Buses will run every half-hour thorughout the route. Late or early hikers may use the Fred Harvey taxi service by calling (520) 638-2631 - a pay phone is located at the South Kaibab trailhead.

Hermit Road and access to Yaki Point and the South Kaibab trailhead will be closed throughout the season to all commercial and private motor vehicles.

Bicycles will be allowed to use the roads, just as access is allowed on the Hermit Road during the shuttle season.

Although the electric buses will be wheel-chair accessible, individuals with physical disabilities may obtain a car pass at the park's visitor center for access to Yaki Point overlook and South Kaibab trailhead, as well as West Rim Drive.

Buses on the Village Loop route will run about every 10 to 30 minutes between 6:30am and 9:45pm daily. The entire route takes approximately 50 minutes.

Buses on the West Rim route will also run about every 10 to 30 minutes between 7:30am and sunset daily. The time to travel one direction is approximately 45 minutes. The last complete loop leaves before sunset from the Hermit Road bus stop. Outbound buses stop at all West Rim overlooks; returning buses stop at Hermits Rest, Mohave Point, and the West Rim bus stops only.

The visitor transportation system was first introduced at Grand Canyon in 1974 to reduce vehicle congestion along Hermit Road and the Grand Canyon Village during the park's busy summer season. Since then, the transportation system has provided over 60,000,000 rides to park visitors.

The park's 1995 General Management Plan calls for a shift in transportation patterns at the park moving from the current auto-based system to a mass transit system. In the near future, all day use visitors to Grand Canyon's South Rim will park at a "staging area" near Tusayan and enter the park on a light rail system which will operate between the staging area and two locations within the park - Mather Point and Maswik transportation Center. At Mather Point, visitors will be provided a "menu" of activities for their visit and the transit options to take them to their in-park destinations. Construction of the Mather Transportation Center is expected to be completed by September 2000 with the new transportation system following shortly thereafter.

National Park Service

The three routes are identified by diamonds of different colors:

Note: I use a magenta diamond instead of a black diamond on my map of the shuttle system simply because I found that it stands out better on the map.

No tickets are required to use the shuttle system.

Pets are not allowed on the buses with the exception of dogs which are certified for use by vision or hearing impaired visitors.

Water is only available at Hermit's Rest on the West Rim Shuttle. It gets very hot out there during the day and you are advised to bring your own water with you, especially if you plan to leave the buses for extended periods of time to enjoy the views.

Toilets (Porta-potties) are available near the start of the West Rim Shuttle and near the Hopi Overlook stop. A real toilet is available at Hermit's Rest and this is the only one which is wheelchair accessible.

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Copyright © Bob Ribokas, 1994-2001, all rights reserved. This publication and its text and photos may not be copied for commercial use without the express written permission of Bob Ribokas.