TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH DIGEST
ARIZONA TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE
Report to Congress on Transit Alternatives: Grand Canyon National Park (National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington DC 20240; ph. 202-208-3100 http://www.nps.gov/grca/mgmt/transalt.pdf) (Dec 2004)
Options 1-5 initial system implementation costs: $115-252 million.
Option A initial implementation cost: $46 million.
Options 1-5 annual operating costs: $15-18 million.
Option A annual operating costs: $2 million.
In order to both improve visitor experience at Grand Canyon National Park and to protect park resources from development of more roads and parking lots, a transit system between the gateway community of Tusayan and stations in the park was proposed in the park's 1995 General Management Plan. In October 1997 the National Park Service (NPS) amended the 1995 GMP and decided to build a light rail system and locate all day-use parking in the Tusayan area on Forest Service lands 6 miles south of the canyon rim.
In December 2000, Congress passed legislation signed by the President requiring the Secretary of the Interior to halt the progress of the light rail solicitation and to report on bus alternatives to light rail transit and seasonal operation of a transit system for the park.
The most pressing needs of the park today are to improve the visitor experience by alleviating traffic congestion that exists at the South Entrance during peak visitation, addressing the significant parking and safety problems at Mather Point caused by limited parking, and by providing visitor parking for Canyon View Information Plaza (CVIP).
Option A is both an adaptive management approach and a lower cost alternative. It is intended to reduce traffic congestion at the South Rim. Option A gives the NPS flexibility to immediately begin implementation of critical improvements to the existing situation using resources currently available to the park. It provides an opportunity to test concepts such as traffic management and the potential for greater use of Grand Canyon Railway. At the same time the park will be able to derive better visitation and cost estimates on visitor transit issues. Option A is consistent with Options 1-5 and could serve as an interim solution to future transit system solutions or, if successful, it could stand alone.
The park's most immediate needs can be addressed through a combination of three main elements:
A new visitor parking facility near CVIP would serve to alleviate parking congestion at Mather Point; provide parking for CVIP; and allow parking for visitors using the bus transit system to ride to Grand Canyon Village.
2) A new parking facility on Forest Service land outside the park near the South Entrance to be used as a transit staging area;
An enhanced shuttle bus system that builds on the park's current system and is used by visitors on a voluntary basis.
These new facilities, combined with expanded transit service and active traffic