No one can drive the main park road in Denali National Park — to access the wild interior by land, you’ve gotta get on the bus. This creates a problem for the park: More visitors means more bus rides, which translates to increased pollution in one of the biggest unspoiled parks in the country.
But now Denali officials are doing something about it. On Thursday, they tested the first hybrid bus on the 92-mile road that crosses the park. If all continues to go well, hybrid buses could replace all 110 of the park’s aging school bus fleet.
The hybrid buses emit 40 percent less carbon dioxide, and cost much less to operate (diesel fuel in the park often costs more than $5 a gallon). These hybrid buses require 70 percent less fuel.
Coolest of all, hybrid buses are quiet, which means visitors will have a greater chance to see wildlife without disturbing them.
“Can you imagine the thrill of moving slowly and silently past a bear nursing its cub or wolf hunting along the road?” said Elwood Lynn, assistant superintendent of operations for Denali.
Yes we can, and it sounds awesome.
— Ted Alvarez