Testing of Yellowstone automated shuttles begins in May

We were warned Yellowstone automated shuttles were on the way in 2021, and they’ll be here in May, when testing of two new systems begins at Canyon Village.

The low-speed, electric, automated vehicle (AV) shuttle technology isn’t designed to solve every traffic problem in Yellowstone National Park–and lord knows we will see enough of them in what’s sure to be a busy summer–but they are designed, at least initially, to help folks get within specific Yellowstone villages.

The trial runs of the Yellowstone automated shuttles at Canyon Village will take place in two phases, serving Canyon Village campground, visitor services, and adjoining visitor lodging area. The first phase, May 24–July 12, will run between Visitor Services, Moran Lodge and Washburn Lodge at 7-10 a.m., 12:30–3:30 p.m., and 6–9 p.m. After a day break, the second phase will run July 14–August 31 between Visitor Services, Amphitheater and Campground Services, Middle Campground and Upper Campground.

There are some COVID-related limitations at play here. All passengers are required to wear a mask while on board the shuttle. Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer pumps are available for onboard use. If a shuttle attendant is diagnosed with COVID-19, a shuttle will immediately be taken out of service and decontaminated by a third-party cleaning contractor prior to the shuttle going back into service. Shuttles will operate at a reduced capacity. Up to 6 passengers may ride the shuttle if traveling together. For parties not traveling together, the shuttle can accommodate a group of two passengers and a group of three passengers simultaneously. Each shuttle will have its own on-board attendant who will monitor safety and can take over the shuttle operation at any time.

This is a pilot (yes, pun intended) system that will undergo several weeks of testing onsite prior to the launch, which could lead to adjustments by vendor BEEP and the NPS as needed to ensure safety.

Image courtesy NPS.

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