Shifting Modes of Travel to National Parks: Pilot Study at Muir Woods National Monument, California (With Discussion and Closure)

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - traffic, ridership - demand, policy - congestion, policy - parking, economics - appraisal/evaluation, mode - mass transit


Transit, Traffic congestion, Tourist trade, Tourism, Shuttle service, Ridership, Public transit, Pilot studies, Patronage (Transit ridership), Parking demand, National parks, Muir Woods National Monument, Modal shift, Mass transit, Marin County (California), Local transit, Gridlock (Traffic), Funding, Financing, Evaluation and assessment


The Muir Woods Shuttle is a three-summer (2005–2007) pilot public transit route designed to transport visitors to Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, California. The shuttle was developed by the County of Marin and the National Park Service and is funded through an FHWA earmark. More than 700,000 people visit Muir Woods every year, primarily in private automobiles; automobile congestion significantly affects park resources and visitor experience. Goals for the shuttle include reducing vehicular parking impact and demand at the park, reducing vehicular traffic in the park, and reducing congestion on nearby roads. Nelson\Nygaard has conducted evaluations of shuttle performance for all three pilot years to make service enhancement, marketing, and funding recommendations for future service. Evaluation is based on extensive original data collection including ride checks, onboard passenger surveys, and nonpassenger visitor surveys for four weekends per summer. Improvements added in 2007 such as increased frequency and an expanded service area were a direct result of the 2005–2006 studies. Results from evaluations of 2005–2006 service indicate strong demand for public transit to Muir Woods. Almost 14,600 trips (one-way) were made on the shuttle between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2006, representing a 140% increase in ridership over 2005, despite the round-trip charge of $2 added in 2006. In 2006, unlike 2005, ridership was high from the beginning of the season. Evaluation continued through the summer of 2007 with additional focus on identifying sources of funding to continue this very successful service.