Replacing Zion’s Aging Shuttle Fleet
On April 20, 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation launched the BUILD Transportation grant program. This $1.5 billion funding opportunity is designed to construct community infrastructure and focuses specifically on rural area improvements. Zion’s leadership views this grant as the funding source that can help replace the park’s outdated shuttle bus fleet.
Now in their 19th year of operation, Zion’s shuttle buses have aged 7 years past their expected life-cycle. Mechanics are struggling to find parts, and many shuttles are experiencing the early stages of engine failure. Zion is reliant on its shuttle bus system to transport the vast majority of its visitors. Without it, there is not traffic management and parking capacity necessary for Zion’s 4.5 million annual visitors who come between March and October to experience Zion Canyon.
BUILD grants require matching funds, and in order to be competitive, Zion needs to secure a 50% match for its application. Zion’s leadership is utilizing all available funding and is reaching out to potential supporters willing commit to matching funds. The opportunity to double local contributions with BUILD funding would have a tremendous impact on a service essential to Zion’s visitor experience. If outside funding is not secured, Zion estimates that it will take 17 years to gradually replace the shuttle system. This project provides essential matching funds to leverage federal transportation dollars and boosts Zion’s chances of shuttle bus replacement.