PORTER | Two propane-powered buses could be shuttling visitors to and through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore by this summer.
National Lakeshore Superintendent Costa Dillon said Tuesday that the park, through the National Park Service procurement office, will buy two 25-passenger buses with the $193,400 it receives from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Lakeshore officials received word Monday it had received a Federal Transit Administration Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks grant. The funding was the full amount requested by the park.
Shuttling visitors to the park isn't a new idea. Dillon said the original concept of the park was to use shuttles. Land was bought for parking and shuttle services, but, until now, funding was never available.
The money also will be used to buy a propane storage tank and signs.
The shuttle service will be free for lakeshore visitors.
Dillon said park staff has yet to work out details as to where shuttles will be located, but foresees their use to transport South Shore rail line riders to the park, shuttle people to and from the campground or from the old visitors center on U.S. 12 and Kemil Road to the park. That parking lot often is used by beach goers in the summer who then walk to the beach.
He said the use of the buses will be a year-round venture. They will be used during the off season to transport students to the Dunes Learning Center and for other programs.
The use of a shuttle program will help ease summer traffic congestion and reduce traffic jams for local residents as well as reduce emissions. Having the shuttles available, he said, will encourage people to leave their cars at home.
Dillon said this will be a trial year for the system.
"When you start something new, it takes time for people to be made aware of the service," he said.