ST. GEORGE — Visitors to Zion National Park are riding in style after two Lightning ZEV3 Class 3 passenger vans were added to the shuttle fleet Tuesday.
The deployment of these zero-emission vehicles will augment the goals of the Utah Clean Cities East Zion pilot shuttle program.
“The public-private initiative is a landmark demonstration of how industry, federal and local agencies can come together to demonstrate smart mobility solutions that increase regional resiliency and connectivity,” said a news release from businesswire.com.
As part of a pilot program that began in 2019, EVZion has “developed a zero-emission, electric vehicle shuttle system to demonstrate the efficiency of electric vehicle transportation in rural gateway communities,” the news release said.
This high-tech, electric shuttle pilot and demonstration project involves national laboratory data collection, industry partner road testing in extreme climate fluctuations and local community leadership, according to the EVZion website.
“The opportunity to work with the Utah Clean Cities team and our partners to demonstrate the viability and scalability of all-electric, zero-emission passenger systems aligns perfectly with our mission and vision,” Nick Bettis, vice president of marketing and sales operations at Lightning eMotors, said in the news release. “As the only electrified vehicle provider actively delivering customized, fully electric Class 3 shuttles and a robust range of charging solutions, Lightning eMotors is excited to be part of the EVZion project.”
The vans were customized with rear-facing cameras to allow the side mirrors to be folded so that the vans can pass each other in the Mt. Carmel Tunnel. In conjunction with the deployment of the two vans, Lightning is demonstrating Lightning Mobile, which provides DC fast charging in a trailer format. This technology is especially valuable for charging EVs in locations that may be remote from the grid.
“The historic Mt. Carmel Tunnel, an iconic landmark since its inauguration on July 4, 1930, has long struggled with accommodating oversized vehicles and maintaining a safe traffic flow,” said Tammie Bostick, Utah Clean Cities executive director and project lead of the EVZion project. “By adopting these shuttles, tailored to the tunnel’s dimensions, we’re taking an active step towards ensuring a two-way traffic flow that eliminates the frustrating hours and miles of backed-up vehicles.
“This approach not only respects the park’s history but also paves the way for a more enjoyable and secure experience for all visitors.”
Lightning’s ZEV3 passenger vans have a long track record of operating in public and private transit and on-demand microtransit contexts across the county, the news release said.
The EVZion ribbon-cutting follows a recent announcement by Teton Village, Wyoming, about the acquisition of Lightning eMotors vehicles to replace the diesel buses that serve nearly half a million people in and around Teton Village resort.
Following are Zion National Park shuttle service reminders from the park service:
- You do not need a ticket or reservation to ride the park shuttle or enter the park.
- During the shuttle season, visitors cannot drive personal vehicles on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
- Later in 2023, the park will share information about shuttle operations in December.
- Shuttles arrive about every 15 minutes on the Springdale Line (outside the park) and about every 5-10 minutes on the Zion Canyon Line (inside the park).