The National Park Service (NPS) announced that it will pilot an autonomous shuttle service at Yellowstone National Park to help alleviate traffic congestion.

“Yellowstone and the NPS are proactively engaging with emerging transportation technologies by looking for ways to test, pilot, and learn from these capabilities,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “We will continue exploring possible ways to reduce congestion and to improve visitor experience and access in heavily traveled areas of the park.”

In a press release, NPS provided details on the pilot program. The pilot will test multi-passenger, electric automated vehicle platforms.

“In consultation with the NPS Park Planning, Facilities and Lands Directorate and DOT, Yellowstone selected Canyon Village to test a low-speed, automated shuttle that would potentially serve the campground, visitor services, and adjoining visitor lodging area,” NPS said. “Shuttles will run from late May through August of 2021. Principal parties chose Canyon Village based on visitor safety and the potential for the NPS to learn from the pilot.”

NPS will work with a private sector partner, which will provide the autonomous vehicles, needed engineering, and mapping of the routes, as well as total operational, monitoring, and management for regular oversight and to support ridership demand.

NPS is also running a separate feasibility study, according to the press release.

“Yellowstone is partnering with the NPS Intermountain Regional Alternative Transportation Program, the NPS Denver Service Center, and the DOT Volpe Center to analyze the opportunities, risks, and costs of local shuttles possibly originating at Old Faithful and Canyon Village,” NPS said. “Project partners will also look at potential system locations, routes, stops, fleet requirements, business models, ridership, and costs. The study will include qualitative impacts to visitor experience, safety, park operations, resources, and stakeholders. The park expects the study will conclude in 2022. The outcome of the study will inform whether piloting a local transit service in Yellowstone is feasible.”

Read More About
More Topics
Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.