In order to increase the number of visitors, Mather and his young assistant, Horace Albright, would ally themselves with the machine that had already begun transforming American life: the automobile. Their efforts would bring Americans to the parks as never before. But for some, allowing cars into the parks was the equivalent of allowing the serpent into Eden. While it was an easy decision for Mather, many park supporters worried that he had made a pact with the devil. — Program Notes, Episode IV, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”
The first head of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather (1867 to 1930) wanted the parks to thrive, and that included finding inexpensive alternatives to the railroads. But today, anyone who has often traveled to the National Parks will probably tell you of a traffic jam, as they experienced the very thing they left the city to avoid. Now, we may have way too much of something that began as a good thing. Hopefully, we’ll see more shuttles in the future.
from NPS Glacier National Park
WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Glacier National Park’s free, optional Going-to-the-Sun Road (Sun Road) shuttle service began operating for the summer on Thursday, July 1 and continues operations through Labor Day, Monday, September 6. This free, step-on step-off, no frills shuttle provides an alternative for visitors traveling the Sun Road from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to locations along the Sun Road and Apgar Village. The last evening buses depart Logan Pass for points east and west at 7 p.m. Started in July 2007, the Sun Road shuttle system is part of Glacier’s program to reduce vehicle traffic and minimize impacts on visitors throughout the multi – year Sun Road rehabilitation.
Visitors to Logan Pass will find a newly relocated shuttle stop. The shuttle stop has been moved away from the main entrance to the Visitor Center to improve traffic flow and safety for both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Benches have been added to provide visitor comfort while waiting for the shuttle. In 2009, 156,726 people utilized the free shuttle to travel the Sun Road. Ridership on the transit system increased by more than 50,000 compared to 2008.
The transit service provides an alternative mode of transportation for those who don’t mind leaving their vehicles behind.