Should a bus system to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon for tourists arriving by car in Tusayan be optional or mandatory -- or neither?

The Virtual Editorials - E9 (July 3, 2005) - Dennis Foster

Introduction:  This topic was perfect for me.  I have written quite a bit, over the years, on the management shortcoming of park officials at Grand Canyon.  I hope to have most of this posted up on this web site, linked from the home page, but it will take a while.  When the park was ordered, by Congress, to stop entertaining the idea of a fixed-rail system, back in 2000, they were on the verge of actually accepting bids for this system.  Instead, the Park Service was required to put together a report that would also include the option of using buses, at least in the interim.  Well, that's better than nothing.  Such a report wasn't disseminated to Congress until December of 2004, and it wasn't made available to the public until June of 2005.  Hence, the interest in this issue at this time.

Virtual Editorial #9

     Thankfully, the hideous rail transit plan has been derailed.  I applaud the voluntary nature of the current proposal, although it still represents myopic thinking at the park service.

     There is congestion at the Grand Canyon and visitors are not well-served by this.  The park is as big as Delaware, yet the South Rim has only about one-third as many parking spaces as does NAU.  Infrastructure improvement, with more parking, better roads, and, yes, voluntary bus service, should be a central focus of park planning.

     For example, extending the Mather Point lot to Yavapai Point could add 500 parking spaces.  The park service proposal calls for demolishing the Mather Point lot, which would be a crime.  Visit Desert View to see the results of such a crime.

     Park officials have long acted to distance and discourage visitors from the Grand Canyon.  Given that it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, it is a travesty that annual visitation is less than five million to this spectacular site.

     Since 1997, the Grand Canyon has collected over $100 million in “fee demonstration” money.  They have the resources to effectively deal with the congestion issue.  If only they had the motivation.

Afterword:  There are lots of issues here, but I will leave most of that to my posting of Grand Canyon critiques.  Still, one issue that I touched on is the parking at Desert View.  It used to be that this was a cool place to visit.  The parking lot consisted of straight-in parking, flanking a roadway through the commercial area here.  Yes, at the height of the summer, it would get crowded.  So, build more parking nearby.  Late comers can walk a bit.  But, no, that's not the way that park officials think.  To them, you (the visitor) need to be forced into approaching the rim of the canyon the way they see fit.  If they could make you get down on your knees and crawl to the rim, they'd probably do it.  Now, the old parking has been torn up and a new lot built further away from the rim.  And, further away from the restrooms.  And, further away from the grocery store!  And, it is a big, ugly lot, typical of park service aesthetics, or lack thereof.  Yes, this is a crime, and as you can see from the linked photo, likely to be unnecessary during about 98% of the year.

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