A modernized version of the traditional Yellowstone National Park tour bus has been developed as a low-emission, cost-effective community/transit shuttle bus of the future.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory is working with the departments of Interior and Transportation, as well as private industry, to roll out the "new" yellow bus. The bus will be unveiled at an event for members of the news media at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, near the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. (See complete schedule below).
While this modernized version of the traditional yellow bus retains the conventional feel of the older model park vehicles, the new version is a 16- to 32-passenger vehicle that uses alternative fuel, features a low floor and complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The passenger area of the bus is built low to the ground so steps are not required for entry. The entry ramp can be extended to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs and with strollers. The bus also has a retractable roof to allow passengers greater visibility to the outdoors. Another optional feature is tracks replacing tires for traveling over snow in winter.
This first bus is a model for Yellowstone National Park, says Kerry Klingler, INEEL project manager. The bus designers have traveled across the country to assess how it can be adapted to other transportation needs. Eventually, the vehicle is expected to be manufactured with several optional engines, using alternative fuels like natural gas, propane, ethanol and biodiesel. For the national parks, the "new yellow bus" is the modern version of the historic vehicles that once were common in places like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Taking its cue from the 1930s-vintage White Motor Company vehicles, these modern vehicles feature the roll-back top, rounded back and excellent visibility that characterized the historic buses. Their modern amenities include a sophisticated suspension system for a smooth ride, low floor for ease of accessibility, audio-visual capabilities and alternate fuel opportunities. The large windows and open top give a panoramic sense of traveling through the parks.
Partners in the project include the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, the Department of Interior's National Park Service and Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, the Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration, Heart International, Ruby Mountain, Greater Yellowstone/Teton Clean Cities Coalition, ASG Renaissance and Hadley Products.
One purpose of the collaborative effort is protection of the national parks' pristine environment, combined with a drive to increase national security by reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Yellow bus public schedule:
Thursday, Sept. 25 - 10 a.m. press conference with U.S. Senators Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Conrad Burns, R-Montana and others as schedules permit near Russell Senate Office Building. Viewing for Senators and staff from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 1-5 p.m. Viewing for Department of Interior employees; vehicle located at "C" Street entrance.
Friday, Sept. 25 - 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public viewing at various locations on the Washington Mall. 9 a.m. to noon, Capitol Reflecting Pool; 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., FDR Memorial - West Basin Drive, west curb; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Daniel French Drive, north curb (near Korean War Memorial)