A (national) park is a reserve of land, usually declared and owned by a (national) government, protected from most human development and pollution. National parks are usually located in places which have been largely undeveloped, and often feature areas with exceptional native animals, plants and ecosystems (particularly endangered examples of such) or geological features.
Most national parks continuously work on maintaining the balance between protecting nature (and offering refuge for wildlife) and making it accessible to the general public to explore (as a popular tourist area). Managing the potential for conflict between these two roles can become problematic, particularly as tourists often generate revenue for the parks which, in turn, are spent on conservation projects.
Currently the personal car is the primary transit mode for exploration of national parks. Its’ detrimental effects (noise and air pollution) and the sheer number of cars negatively impact both goals of the national parks: contaminating nature and decreasing the quality of the park experience. Environmentally friendly means of transportation are required to keep the parks pristine and ensure an unspoiled environment (both for nature itself as well as its’ visitors).
Several parks now feature tours by tram or bus to make nature accessible while protecting its’ natural values – in some parks key areas are not accessible by cars. To minimize the impact of transit systems on nature there appears to be a preference for road based systems using a light infrastructure – typically of a group nature to reduce traffic numbers and the threat over overcrowding.
Automated people movers could further enhance the visit quality – ensuring all passengers can enjoy (viewing) nature while traveling, customizing routes based on the passengers’ interests and wildlife spottings and providing detailed information on flora and fauna. However, parks likely do not feature APM yet for several reasons: costs, (heavy) infrastructure required (rail), wildlife accidents and lack of suitable technologies.
Electronically guided people mover systems are road-based, can operate on the existing infrastructure and are equipped with sensors to avoid wildlife accidents. This new generation of people movers allows national parks to approach their accessibility differently, providing park management a new tool to balance nature’s conservation and exploration for all groups.
The quest of Park Management is to balance nature’s conservation and exploration by the general public. The detrimental effects of the car (noise and air pollution) has them looking for other, environmentally friendly means of transportation to accommodate park visits.
Although Personal Rapid Transit possibly provides visitors with the best (individual) experience, it does not help to reduce the quantity of vehicles. For that reason alone, PRT might not be an appropriate solution for many parks. Alternatively parks could elect to operate PRT, but at the same time restrict the number of vehicles available. The park’s capacity is reduced, but the exclusivity and guest experience are greatly improved while nature’s conservation is ensured.
Group Rapid Transit systems are likely to be a better fit as they help contribute to reduce (over)crowding of the Parks.
Parks continously work on maintaining the balance between protecting nature and making it accesible to the general public to explore – in order to generate revenue for new conservation projects. Nature can be made accesible in a sustainable manner through grouped tours (by environmentally friendly transit): minimizing noise and air pollution as well as controlling overcrowding.
The ParkShuttle Group Rapid Transit system further enhances the visitor experience by ensuring all passengers can enjoy (viewing) nature while traveling. Each vehicle can run a customized route, based on the passengers’ interests and/or reported wildlife spottings. Experiencing the native animals of the park is no longer a question of luck (right place, right time), but has become a large chance. By means of a sound library, the system can activate – either automatically or on request – detailed information on both flora and fauna. Optionally a monitor can also be installed.
Electronically guided systems do eliminate one other important objection: the need for elevated guideways. A road-based system, based on electronic guidance, would have the same (visual) impact in a park as cars do. The small foot print of the system would allow the (road and parking) infrastructure in the park to be minimized in reference to the current situation – giving the space reduced back to nature. Each vehicle is equipped with advanced obstacle detection systems, to avoid (wildlife) accidents.
Electronically guided people movers allow parks to approach their accessibility differently, providing park management a new tool to balance nature’s conservation and exploration. By using existing infrastructure the capital and operational costs are minimized, making it an attractive replacement of current mobility in parks.
Optionally the routing of the system could also connect to other nearby locations; towns, lodging and other parks.