Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts at Yosemite Inc. (DNC ), the company responsible for transportation and guest services at Yosemite National Park, has introduced 18 new diesel-electric hybrid buses to Yosemite Park. The hybrid buses were produced by Gillig Corp., and are replacing 12 conventional diesel buses. The Yosemite bus fleet shuttles approximately three million visitors throughout Yosemite Valley and the Wawona area of California annually. The General Services Administration, The National Park Service’s Clean Air fund and fees collected from Yosemite Park visitors financed the purchase of the energy efficient bus fleet.
The diesel-electric hybrid buses are making history by being the first hybrid bus fleet to be operated within a U.S. National Park. The buses will also be a great benefit to the environment by significantly reducing the impact of operating the shuttles. When compared to the previous buses, the new fleet will reduce particulate matter (PM), hydrocarbon (HC), and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions by up to 90%, and will provide a more enjoyable experience for the passengers. The hybrid fleet will operate year-round and provide continuous service to around 17,800 to 23,000 passengers each day.
The new diesel-electric hybrid buses have many new features. The air ride suspension allows for a smoother ride. The Gillig Low Floor model provides a disability accessible low floor entrance which is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Other benefits for the passengers include larger windows and skylights, interior automated message signs, and light-sensitive windows. Noise pollution caused by the traditional shuttles’ acceleration and deceleration has been reduced by as much as 70%, which allows the visitors to more fully experience all of the sights and sounds of nature in Yosemite.
As with other hybrid systems, the hybrid electric drive will allow the buses to run on a smaller engine. Because of its greater efficiency, the hybrid bus fleet will also provide cost benefits. The hybrid buses provide a 20% to 55% improvement in fuel economy, depending upon their drive cycle. Hybrid drive also extends the life of the transmission, brakes and driveline components.
National Park Service Deputy Director Don Murphy commented, “These GM hybrid-powered buses exemplify the National Park Service’s efforts to simultaneously provide unparalleled visitor service while taking a leadership role in greening the environment through federal fleet and transportation efficiency.” Beth Lowery, GM vice president of Environment and Energy added, “GM’s hybrid technology offers significantly reduced noise and emissions, qualities that are particularly important and beneficial to Yosemite, one of America’s great national treasures. We applaud the National Park Service for its efforts to protect the park’s environment today and to help preserve it for generations to come.”