Locals in Southern Utah waiting for a direct bus route from St. George to Zion National Park may be in luck. The Washington County Commission adopted a quarter-percent sales tax Tuesday to help fund the route.
If approved, public or private buses will travel from St. George to Springdale along State Route 9.
With more than 4 million visitors at Zion National Park every year, St. George locals say they’ve been waiting for the route for a long time, to not only reduce the park’s chronic overcrowding but also their carbon footprint.
“I think it’s a great idea,” St. George resident Emily Knight said. “You get more access to the park and you don’t have to look for parking. You don’t have to pay for parking and you can still have a great time.”
The route can also help Dixie State University students access the park if they don’t have a car on campus.
“I’m really excited for it,” Dixie State University junior Juan Merlos said. “I’ve never been to Zion just because I don’t like to drive.”
To fund the St. George-Springdale route, the Utah Department of Transportation announced a $15 million grant last year. St. George Mayor Jon Pike said the start up funds would need to last at least 10 years, so the quarter-percent sales tax could help.
“It makes some sense to try to reduce the number of cars to Springdale,” said Pike.
Pike sad the sales tax means that tourists and visitors will pay for a portion of transit costs, bringing St. George alone $3 million every year.
“About 30 to 40 percent of people that pay sales taxes are visitors,” added Pike.
Pike said the tax should go into effect at the end of this year or at the start of next year, adding that he hopes the route is up and running in the next year and a half.