Beyond the Testing: Zion National Park

We are surrounded by subtle changes in life; sometimes so subtle, in fact, we barely notice them, even though they are, in reality, monumental and have the potential to greatly enhance our quality of life.

Social, cultural, economic and technological changes are working together to positively disrupt the transportation industry, and create new ways of forming an integrated, seamless mobility network. One of the subtle, yet significant, advances in that seamless mobility network is the development of electric and autonomous vehicles (for an update on autonomous buses, check out our recent blog: Autonomous Vehicles, the New Cloud). When it comes to these new-fangled, alternative power sources, our company is a leader in the marketplace.  RATP Group operates 900 hybrid buses and 55 electric buses throughout the world!

Following in the footsteps of RATP Group, RATP Dev USA introduced the first electric bus to the transit fleet at Zion National Park in southern Utah in August 2017, as part of the park’s sustainability initiative. The three month pilot program at Zion gave us a chance to test operational reliability (temperatures in the park can reach 113 degrees during the day!), vehicle range based on battery performance, and passenger carrying capacity. We are proud to say the pilot program was a big success and based on data collected last summer, it is going to be expanded. The park service is purchasing two thirty-five-foot electric buses and Zion Park will be testing an Xcelsior® New Flyer sixty-foot all-electric bus, increasing capacity and catering to greater passenger needs.

The move to electric buses is a move to a more sustainable mobility model. Electric buses produce fewer emissions, and they cut down on noise pollution allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the park.  “This is just one step toward the park’s goal of going ‘all electric’ – that is, having an entire fleet of electric buses,” said Frank Austin, RATP Dev USA’s General Manager for the Zion transit system.  Another ambitious goal is the Parisian journey to transition a large conventional fleet to 100% electric by 2025, set by our RATP Dev family in Paris.

The electric vehicle market is growing and its growth is transforming transportation. According to a report by Mckinsey & Company, “shared mobility could boost electric vehicles sales because shared vehicles are used more intensively, improving the economics of ownership.” Yes, consumers will eventually embrace electric vehicles, for economic reasons and environmental ones. But here at RATP Dev USA, we are already on the electric bus bandwagon because we know it increases ridership and fosters connectivity while reducing our carbon footprint.

Sure, battery-powered buses don’t look much different than their fuel consuming cousins, but they are that subtle change that may just revolutionize public transportation. So, whether it’s a small, subtle step or a giant, momentous leap, RATP Dev USA is moving forward into the future, along with the cities that are starting to test fleets of electric buses, to enhance your transportation experience and bring you the future of mobility. All riders can be kind to the environment AND still reach any destination!

Molly Lepine