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Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21

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avatar Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 09:06AM
In response to increasing amounts of traffic over the past several years, the National Park Service (NPS) will convert one lane of Southside Drive into a bus and emergency vehicle lane to provide for better flow of traffic for shuttle buses, Valley Floor Tour trams, YARTS, commercial tour buses, and emergency vehicles. This pilot traffic management project will run from 9:00 am - 7:00 pm every day starting May 21. NPS will evaluate the effectiveness of this program in June to determine if this bus lane should continue for the rest of the summer.

***What are the main points that I should communicate to visitors?***
1. In response to visitor concerns, the National Park Service is testing this traffic management strategy to improve visitor experience and protect park resources.
2. This project will run every day starting May 21.
3. The bus lane will start on Southside Drive just west of El Capitan crossover and continue to the Curry Village four-way intersection. Cars will be required to stay in the left lane. Buses and emergency vehicles will use the right lane. Only the free Yosemite Shuttle buses, Valley Floor Tour trams, YARTS, commercial tour buses, and emergency vehicles may use the bus lane.
4. Yosemite Valley can only accommodate a certain number of cars at one time. This number is often exceeded between the hours of 9:00 am - 7:00 pm during summer months, which causes traffic congestion. Coming before or after this time, or using YARTS, may help visitors avoid some traffic congestion. Visitors are always welcome to drive their cars into the Valley.
5. Converting one lane of Southside Drive to a bus lane will not significantly impact the number of cars entering Yosemite Valley. Traffic can back up along Southside Drive when visitor parking is at capacity. This backup occurs regardless of the number of lanes available for private vehicles.
6. The park will seek long term solutions to traffic concerns through the Merced River Plan.

***What about NPS and concession employees?***
NPS and concessioner employees will need to use the car lane along with visitors when commuting in their personal vehicle. NPS and concession employees will not be able to use the bus lane even if they have an employee sticker on their car window. NPS employees driving a government vehicle will not be able to use the bus lane unless the government vehicle is used for emergency response. Concession employees and vendors will also not be able to use the bus lane except for DNC security vehicles responding to emergencies. Only shuttle buses, Valley Floor Tour trams, YARTS, commercial tour buses, and emergency vehicles are allowed in the bus lane at this time. NPS is committed to re-evaluating this policy in June.
The reason for these actions is that visitors will see what they perceive to be private vehicles in the bus lane and will follow those cars, not knowing that the individual driving the car is an employee. Our ultimate goal is to attain free flowing traffic conditions in the East Valley. The effectiveness of this project, including who has access to the bus lane, will be re-evaluated in June. Thank you for your understanding as we try this new program!

***Where is the bus lane going to occur?***
Signs will be in place starting at the east end of Bridalveil straight to advise traffic of the new lane configuration. All vehicles except buses will be directed to the left lane, reserving the right lane for buses and emergency vehicles. When traffic in the private vehicle lane on Southside Drive backs up near El Capitan crossover, visitor traffic will be diverted at El Capitan crossover. Employees and Valley residents will not be diverted.

***How will closing a lane of traffic to cars on Southside Drive not significantly impact the number of cars entering Yosemite Valley?***
Yosemite Valley roads are a closed system as the Valley has only one way in and one way out. In addition there is a fixed amount of parking within Yosemite Valley. As parking locations fill, traffic slows, and roads become heavy with the arrival of additional visitors. During these peak periods, one lane of traffic can supply enough vehicles to fill available parking. Speeds will slow but traffic can move continuously, allowing visitors to reach their destination including lodging and campgrounds. This set of conditions allows the use of one lane for motorists and one lane for buses to access the Valley. During the heaviest periods of traffic, visitors should anticipate these conditions and plan accordingly as there will be a wait to access the developed areas of east Yosemite Valley.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 10:28AM
It's sad how the Park Service blatantly favors commercial enterprises (commercial tour buses, valley tram tours) over private citizens. I guess it's far more important that paying passengers on commercial tour buses and trams get to their destinations quicker than ordinary visitors.

(Oh, good luck with an emergency vehicle trying to pass a tour bus in this lane if the other lane is backed up with stalled traffic.)

Oh well...
sad smiley

.
Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 01:43PM
This will be a desaster. Everything else would be a real surprise.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/23/2012 02:03AM by Half Dome Hiker.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 03:26PM
In general it does seem that tour buses get priority.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 04:02PM
Quote
Hitech
In general it does seem that tour buses get priority.

And they get in the way as well.
Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 05:05PM
I feel that the tour buses should have to wait like everyone else does and should not be given priority.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 05:40PM
Quote
parklover
I feel that the tour buses should have to wait like everyone else does and should not be given priority.

I understand. They're sort of establishing an HOV lane for vehicles in Yosemite Valley. It's a bus lane, and commercial tour buses must be licensed to operate in Yosemite Valley. They're trying to give a benefit for vehicles that don't contribute as much to traffic congestion with high occupancy.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 05:47PM
Quote
y_p_w
They're trying to give a benefit for vehicles that don't contribute as much to traffic congestion with high occupancy.

They're giving a benefit to commercial operators. I don't appreciate them getting that benefit.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 06:02PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
y_p_w
They're trying to give a benefit for vehicles that don't contribute as much to traffic congestion with high occupancy.

They're giving a benefit to commercial operators. I don't appreciate them getting that benefit.

However, the alternative would be the 50 people in the tour bus driving perhaps an average of 15-20 private cars into Yosemite Valley and taking up 5+ times the footprint as well as creating more emissions per person. This is definitely a concious decision to favor tour buses. I don't necessarily like it, but I understand the rationale.

In the Bay Area, vanpools and commute buses are allowed toll-free on bridges using special lanes (especially on the Bay Bridge) without tolls. At certain times this can shave off several minutes, especially since the right hand lanes of the Bay Bridge approach have no metering lights and cruise really well for about a half mile before other cars typically merge in from the pay lanes. A for-profit business could pay for the commute services for its employees, and it would qualify. I believe Bauer Transportation is big in the Bay Area for this kind of thing, and the ability to ride in style with the associated bypassing of the toll plaza and even the metering lights is a big incentive to use this kind of service.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 06:05PM
Quote
y_p_w
However, the alternative would be the 50 people in the tour bus driving perhaps an average of 15-20 private cars into Yosemite Valley

That assumes the same people would still come to the park without being on a commercial tour. I think that assumption is very wrong.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 06:43PM
Quote
eeek
Quote
y_p_w
However, the alternative would be the 50 people in the tour bus driving perhaps an average of 15-20 private cars into Yosemite Valley

That assumes the same people would still come to the park without being on a commercial tour. I think that assumption is very wrong.

I don't know if they're making that assumption either, although I'm pretty sure that some people might consider taking a tour bus. I think in many ways there might be a wish to discourage people from bringing in private cars, even if that means fewer overall visitors.

Of course you can wish all sorts of things. I remember when the Half Dome cable permits were only issued for Fri/Sat/Sun that I knew that the traffic would spike on the non-permit days. That was almost inevitable.

I'm pretty sure that we could have easily seen a mandatory shuttle bus system in Yosemite had there been a decent staging area like they have in the Grand Canyon South Rim or Zion Canyon.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 06:51PM
Quote
y_p_w
I'm pretty sure that we could have easily seen a mandatory shuttle bus system in Yosemite had there been a decent staging area like they have in the Grand Canyon South Rim or Zion Canyon.

It's been discussed for decades. The problem is there is not place for parking all those cars and it'd take a lot of buses to carry all the people.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 06:56PM
If it's all about being green, then they should permit all the EV and Green vehicles that qualify either for the White Clean Air Vehicle stickers () or the Green Clean Air Vehicle stickers () to use this "HOV" lane too. (And this can include comparable "Green vehicle" stickers that other states issue.)
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avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 07:06PM
If its about increasing the ability to move people, though, that's the last thing they'll do. The hybrid-sticker-in-the-HOV-lane thing had the useful benefit of improving overall energy efficiency, but I think it did so at the expense of transportation efficiency due to the HOV lane (which is more efficient at moving _people_) becoming clogged with non-HOVs.
Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 21, 2012 07:15PM
I agree with eeek about the tour buses. I can understand why Yarts and the shuttle should use the right lane but not tour buses. The tour buses are for pre set tours and the people on them would not visit the park using private vehicles.

As for the satellite parking, in the webinar that I participated in, the park admitted that they currently do not have the funding to support an shuttle system to and from parking outside of the park.

This is also not about being "green" but to find a way to move traffic in the valley.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 22, 2012 12:24AM
Quote
parklover

This is also not about being "green" but to find a way to move traffic in the valley.


There's really only three issues that cause the traffic congestion within Yosemite Valley: 1) Not enough day-use parking for peak visitation days, 2) Stop signs, 3) the pedestrian crosswalk between the Yosemite Lodge and the Lower Yosemite Falls trail.

Note that this HOV lane on Southside Drive does not address – let alone solve – any of the three major reasons why traffic congestion occurs in Yosemite Valley.

And while dealing with the parking issue will take time, replacing that stops signs at Southside Drive & Village Drive, Southside Drive & Northside Drive and at Northside Drive & Village Drive with traffic lights, and also adding a traffic light at the pedestrian crosswalk at the Yosemite Lodge could be done in a relatively quick timeframe and would make a major impact in reducing traffic congestion on the Valley roads.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/2012 01:23AM by plawrence.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 30, 2012 04:57AM
Regarding HOV lanes, tour buses vs private autos, and preferential access to lanes, the next obvious regulation is to allow motorists to buy a pass that would allow use of less congested lanes. "Fast Pass" equivalent that would involve pre-paying or a debit system.
As we all know, it has been an option for years at many ski resorts to go to the "head of the line". Frankly gives me a slow burn.

However, it is an option that an economist would love as it makes traffic more of a free market situation and increases revenue. I guess we have all grown up with an egalitarian view of the automobile and public roads, but there is not guarantee that will continue.



The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 30, 2012 08:02AM
6The whole pay to not wait your turn is a real issue for me. It creates an even more elitist society when we should be creating less of one. To do this with the publics "property" should be criminal.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 22, 2012 12:33AM
It'll be interesting to watch how this develops.

( god save us from traffic engineers trying to "fix" things )

( I can see needing to do something near the Lodge and Camp 6, I've been on shuttle buses caught in traffic at those locations, but Southside drive? Other than the Old Village/Church/Sentinel Bridge area, where along there does the traffic get that bad? I wonder how many days of the year this will have benefit? )
Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 22, 2012 07:38AM
We had been there when the traffic was backed up to the parking lot at Bridalveil and it took us two hours to get to Housekeeping Camp. We have also been stopped in traffic just before the turn off to Sentinel Beach picnic area more than once. This has happened every Memorial Day Weekend for the last 5 years.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 22, 2012 09:15AM
Just curious, why do you subject yourself to such abuse of visting Yosemite Valley on one of the worst weekends of every year? Are you a glutten for punishment? Enjoy misery? wink

The only times I've visited Yosemite Valley on summer holiday weekends have been only on the very few occasions when that was the only time available to show out-of-town guests Yosemite.

I know that you, like many of us active on this forum, visit Yosemite often, so I'm a bit surprised that you would subject yourself to all the mobs of people that swamp Yosemite Valley on a Memorial Day weekend and the resulting traffic jams, long lines and headaches.


(Side note: one of the most beautiful parks to visit in California on Memorial Day weekend in my humble opinion is Redwood National Park because the rododendrons are usually in full bloom during the weekend and the weather is usually very pleasant (though often still a bit cool). I often include a visit to the rugged southern Oregon Coast with my visit to the redwoods too. Unlike Yosemite, the crowds at Redwood National Park (and the surrounding state parks) during Memorial Day weekend are a lot more manageable than the hordes of visitors that descend to Yosemite Valley around Memorial Day.)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/2012 10:22AM by plawrence.
Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 22, 2012 10:15AM
We had to go Memorial Day Weekend because we had obligations to attend to in the park. Otherwise, I would rather eat a rat then go that weekend. We are going to avoid the valley during the busy time this year.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/2012 01:06PM by parklover.
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 24, 2012 11:29AM
Quote
parklover
We had to go Memorial Day Weekend because we had obligations to attend to in the park. Otherwise, I would rather eat a rat then go that weekend. We are going to avoid the valley during the busy time this year.

Rat fries are held on Wednesdays. Take your time--no traffic. Feed ME!
avatar Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 22, 2012 09:36AM
Quote
qumqats
( god save us from traffic engineers trying to "fix" things )

No traffic "engineer" should be allowed to have an office. They should be given a car and a cellphone.
Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 24, 2012 09:54PM
I was in the Valley this Monday thru Weds. and I didn't see any of this Pilot program going on.
Re: Summer Traffic Pilot Program Starts Monday, May 21
May 25, 2012 10:11AM
There probably was not enough cars coming into the valley to make it worthwhile having Rangers stand around. I wonder what it will be like this weekend. Saturday's weather might stop some day use but Sunday and Monday are supposed to be nice so there should be a lot of people.
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