Kane County officials held an informational hearing on Monday, October 18, at the Kanab Center to answer voters’ questions about Proposition #10. About 30 people attended in person and others viewed online.
Kane County is planning to set up a new regional transit district that would create an electric shuttle bus system between Kanab and Zion National Park.
In this upcoming election, Kane County voters will have the opportunity to vote Yes or No on Prop 10 to create the Zion Area Public Transit District.
Kane County plans to operate 12 electric shuttle buses between Kanab and the visitor center in Zion National Park. County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain estimates the program will create 25-30 jobs, mostly bus drivers.
Shuttle service to Long Valley and Bryce Canyon National Park may be added at some point in the future.
Chamberlain argued that electric shuttle buses will decrease the amount of cars in Zion park and reduce crowding by making trails on the east side of Zion more accessible. It will also reduce air pollution and grow Kane County’s economy.
Zion National Park is the third most visited national park in the country. Before the covid-19 pandemic hit, 4.5 million people visited the park each year.
An analysis by Ken C. Gardner Policy Institute projects that the planned development near the east entrance to Zion National Park will increase the number of annual visitors by 300,000 by 2030, compared to the baseline of no development.
The shuttle bus system is part of a larger development at the east entrance to Zion National Park called the East Zion Initiative. The Gardner report describes a development of four hotels with a total of 337 rooms, restaurants, retail stores, five to eight acres of parking lots and space for a farmers market.
Kane County plans to build a $15.5 million visitor center to provide park information to visitors. The visitor center is funded by a community Investment board (CIB) loan.
A network of 42 miles of hiking and biking trails will connect the East Zion facilities with the national park’s trail system. Chamberlain noted that, “The area is becoming a real mountain bike hub.” People will be able to bring their bikes on the shuttle bus.
The shuttle buses will run every 15 minutes between the East Zion visitor center and the Zion park visitor center, and less frequently to Kanab.
Chamberlain said it will cost $10 million to purchase 12 shuttle busses, build shuttle stops and install charging stations.
Kane County is seeking funding from the federal infrastructure bill, which will be allocated through the state. Chamberlain said that Kane County will not move forward until outside funding has been secured, and he “is confident that this will happen.”
Chamberlain said the reason the buses will be electric is “there is lots of federal funding for electric, making funding easier.”
County Commissioner Andy Gant, who is also on the board of directors of Garkane Energy Cooperative, said Garkane has the capacity to provide power for the electric buses.
If Prop 10 passes, the transit district will have a board of trustees. Kane County residents will be appointed for it. Chamberlain said, “the board will not have taxing authority and will not be able to raise anyone’s taxes.” It can impose user fees for taking the shuttle, but not other fees.