Hawai'i Volcanoes to Test Hydrogen-Powered Shuttle System

Civilian Conservation Corp workers build stone walls along Crater Rim Drive
CCC builds stone walls along Crater Rim Drive, March 1934

A shuttle system would help protect natural and cultural features along Crater Rim Drive such as this rock wall that stands as testament to the craftsmanship of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Two busses pass each other on Crater Rim Drive
Same location, July 2009

The number and size of today's cars and buses overwhelm park roads.


Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando announced today that the Federal Transit Authority awarded Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park a research and development grant of $989,000 to test the feasibility and performance of a hybrid battery/hydrogen fueled shuttle system.

“Hawai‘i Volcanoes is a Climate Friendly Park,” said Orlando. “It’s exciting to pilot a project that will reduce petroleum use and promote renewable energy.”

The park is committed to three climate friendly strategies: reduce fuel use and Green House Gas emissions; increase climate change education efforts; and develop ways to adapt to climate change.

“The project meets all three strategies,” added Orlando.

“This hydrogen shuttle bus project is an exemplary demonstration of the benefits of renewable energy that will not only reduce carbon emissions and fuel costs but also help protect the park’s fragile resources,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said. “I commend Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando and NPS Pacific West Regional Director Jon Jarvis for their leadership on this inter-governmental initiative.”

Both a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, Hawai‘i Volcanoes serves over two million visitors annually. Miles of scenic roadway and many pullouts were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and 1940s. These historic features are easily overwhelmed by the number and size of today’s cars and buses.

“A hydrogen-powered shuttle system will help protect the landscape and soundscape, enhancing the park experience for both visitors and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners,” said Orlando.

Research garnered from this project will contribute to development of hydrogen technology and infrastructure in the State of Hawai‘i and support the transition of the island of Hawaii to an economy less dependent on imported fossil fuels. It will also help the park and its partners educate residents and visitors to the value of renewable energy and quiet, clean alternative transportation.

The park will collaborate with several partners on the project including the State of Hawaii, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, Hawaii Center for Advancement of Transportation Technologies, Department of Defense, Kilauea Military Camp, Hawaiian Electric Company, Department of Energy, and the Federal Transit Authority.

The test program will run for two years. Total contributions by the National Park Service and its partners to the complete hydrogen-powered shuttle program will total $2.4 million.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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