Reduce Visitor Vehicle Miles Traveled

Alt Transportation signMost visitors arrive at national parks by private auto. With national park visitation at around 270,000,000 annual visitors, GHG and CAP emissions from visitor vehicle miles traveled often represent a large portion of total park emissions. Additionally, congestion in many national parks causes lengthy traffic delays and noise and air pollution that substantially detract from the visitor's experience and overall resource protection. Recognizing that more park roads and more parking lots are not the solution, the introduction of visitor transit systems help to alleviate traffic problems and make parks more accessible.


Technology iconThere are a wide variety of ways to encourage visitors to reduce their vehicle miles traveled in national parks. Consider the following options:

  • Equip shuttle buses with bicycle racks
  • Expand shuttle services during construction periods to reduce traffic during construction and transport visitors from parking areas to popular park destinations
  • Partner with surrounding communities on alternative transportation initiatives
  • Educate visitors about climate change and how public transportation can help reduce emissions
  • Make cycling convenient within park boundaries and educate visitors on the environmental benefits of cycling (e.g., define a process for bicycle storage, such as distributing passes or assigning numbered storage slots; identify locations for bicycle storage within the park and procure bicycle racks; invite concessionaires to offer bike rentals; create new bike paths where needed and maintain existing paths)
  • Provide visitor information on park road congestion through webcams and kiosks at entrances
  • Develop an interpretation program on shuttle buses

Economic Savings

Economic Savings iconIt is estimated that the average cost per passenger vehicle in the United States is $3,878 a year. The direct costs of driving included in this figure, such as purchasing and maintaining a car, paying for gas and oil, insurance, and registration and parking, represent only a portion of the true costs of driving. Consider the costs associated with automobiles such as road construction and maintenance that are paid for via taxes and fees. Since those costs aren't paid for directly by car owners, they usually aren't calculated as costs of driving. In addition, there are the other hidden environmental and social costs that drivers and non-drivers alike pay to support.

Environmental Benefits

Environmental Benefits icon
Pollutant Problem Amount Saved VMT Reduced/Year Pollution or Fuel Consumption Reduced or Saved/Year
Hydrocarbons(Urban ozone [smog] and Air Toxics) 3.5 grams/mile 10,000 77 lbs of HC
Carbon Monoxide (Poisonous gas) 25 grams/mile 10,000 550 lbs of CO
Nitrogen Oxides (Urban ozone [smog] and Acid Rain) 1.5 grams/mile 10,000 33 lbs of NOx
Carbon Dioxide(Global warming) 1.0 pound/mile 10,000 9,900 lbs of CO2
Gasoline 0.05 gallon/mile 10,000 500 gallons of gasoline


Links iconDeveloped by the Office of Personnel Management and the General Service Administration the Interagency Telework Site provides access to guidance issued by both agencies. It provides information for employees who think they might like to telecommute (or are already doing so), for managers and supervisors who supervise teleworkers, and for agency telework coordinators.

Launch in 1998, the NPS Alternative Transportation Program Website provides information on policies, projects and activities related to planning, partnering, and implementation of alternative transportation systems within and to National Park System units.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Fuel Economy Web Site is designed to help the public factor energy efficiency into their car buying decisions. This site offers information on the connection between fuel ecocomy, advanced technology, and the environment.

Formerly the Office of Mobile Sources, EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality protects public health and the environment by controlling air pollution from motor vehicles, fuels, and nonroad equipment, and by encouraging travel choices that minimize emissions.

The U.S Department of Energy Clean Cities Program is designed to encourage the use of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) and their supporting infrastructure throughout the nation. Unlike traditional command-and-control programs, the Clean Cities program takes a unique, voluntary approach to AFV development, working with coalitions of local stakeholders to help develop the AFV industry and integrate this development into larger planning processes.

TravelMatters! is website from the Center for Neighborhood Technology that provides a trio of resources - interactive emissions calculators, online emissions maps, and educational content - that emphasize the relationship between more efficient transit systems and lower greenhouse gas emissions. TM's Emissions Calculator allows users to conceptualize how much carbon dioxide they emit due to their travel decisions. The site also offers transportation emissions by county for all contiguous states.