Kudos to reader Joel Scott for setting me straight on Yellowstone National Park's yellow buses. The good news is that none of the park's eight historic yellow buses have been chopped up and morphed into a hybrid of old and new. However, a final decision hasn't yet been made on exactly how those buses might be put back into operation in the park.
The yellow bus photo I ran the other day was actually a photo of one of the park's "new" yellow buses that can be used as a snowcoach in the winter time and an upscale yellow bus that can operate in the summer months on the roads.
The current issue is how to get the historic buses back on the road.
What's going on with the eight historic buses? Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Yellowstone's prime concessionaire, has wanted to have them refurbished much like the Red Jammer fleet in Glacier National Park was.
Rick Hoeninghausen, Xanterra's marketing director in Yellowstone, says the plan was to spend about $1.8 million to take the bodies off the old buses, refurbish them, and place them on new chassis's and use environmentally friendly bio-diesel engines along with the latest safety equipment. However, some historic preservationists took exception to that plan, arguing that the restoration work should be historically accurate, something that wouldn't allow for the new chassis's and engines.
For now Xanterra is waiting to hear back from the Park Service on how to proceed. That decision is expected soon. If the concessionaire's plan is OKed, the eight historic buses will be sent to the same Michigan company that restored Glacier's Red Jammers.
"Our hope would be to have them in use next year," says Hoeninghausen.
Yellowstone officials, who agree with Xanterra that any restoration work must enable the buses to meet current safety and legal requirements, are looking forward to their return.
"We are looking forward to giving visitors an experience that they haven't had here in a long time," says park spokesman Al Nash.