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Contact: Amy Vanderbilt, 406-888-5838
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park’s new Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) transit system is in its final week of operation for the 2007 season. When the shuttle system ends operation on September 3, by all accounts, the new (optional) shuttle system will be deemed a huge success. According to park officials, the fleet of low-emission, fuel efficient shuttle buses has proven very popular: As an (optional) alternative mode of Sun Road transportation the shuttle system has reduced Sun Road traffic by approximately 20 percent. "We are extremely pleased with the public response from this first season of operation," said Glacier National Park Superintendent Mick Holm. "We hope park visitors will continue to use the shuttle system in future years."
"Based on studies and recommendations from the 2001-2002 Going-to-the-Sun Road Citizens Advisory Committee, the collective goal of the National Park Service (NPS) and its partner, Federal Highway Administration, was to reduce summer vehicle traffic by 10-12 percent on the Sun Road and thereby reduce traffic congestion at work zones during the 8-10 year rehabilitation.
In its first season that began July 1, the shuttle system ran daily from morning till night across the trans-mountain highway during Glacier’s busy summer when more than 1 million visitors travel the narrow mountainous National Historic Landmark that crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass (elev. 6,646 ft). "The new free transit service is in addition to the popular guided park tours from a Blackfeet perspective with Sun Tours and aboard the historic red buses with Glacier Park, Inc." Survey results had indicated that there would be use, but park managers are overwhelmed at the positive response to the new service," Holm added.
During the shuttle system’s pilot season, Glacier borrowed five buses from Yellowstone National Park for the east side (St. Mary Valley) operation. The first of eight larger-capacity (28-passenger) buses, purchased mostly through Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) funds, arrived at the park Tuesday, August 28, just in time for these two larger Optima, LLC, buses to be folded into the east side operation Labor Day weekend.
In other park shuttle system news, the Apgar Transit Center will remain available to provide parking and rest rooms.
In fall 2007, following vehicle servicing and complement of supplemental interagency agreements, the fleet of Sun Road shuttle buses will begin operating in various transit systems throughout the state of Montana as part of the next phase of the three-way interagency cooperative agreement between the MDT, Flathead County’s Eagle Transit Authority and the NPS; details are pending for this 8-9 month operation. "This year-round operation is a huge win-win for all agencies involved," stated Holm. "Instead of sitting in storage, the Sun Road fleet will be utilized in various existing transit systems throughout the rest of the year."
The new shuttle system operates along the Sun Road, and between Fish Creek Campground and Apgar Village locations. On the Lake McDonald Valley route, 12-person buses operate about every 15 minutes between stops. On the St. Mary and Apgar routes, larger buses run at 30 minutes intervals; buses run from early morning until night. The last buses leave Logan Pass at 9:30 pm for both St. Mary Visitor Center and the Apgar Transit Center.
For current information on park roads and weather conditions, and visitor services throughout the park, visit Glacier's website www.nps.gov/glac, dial 511 anywhere in Montana (select option 5) or call park headquarters at 406-888-7800.