Shuttle to Sequoia National Park a Family Bargain

5/21/2008 Visalia, CA Relaxing, breathe taking and serene; that's what some of the first visitors on this year's Visalia Sequoia Shuttle had to say about their trip.

Mary Sharp, Visalia, says "The bus is comfortable. The sights, the water, the river coming down was just spectacular, it was beautiful."

On Wednesday, the Sequoia Shuttle began its second year of offering rides from downtown Visalia to Sequoia National Park. The shuttle is part of a three year pilot program to make Visalia a tourist attraction and reduce air pollution.

"We had several people and reduced probably six vehicles and not as much congestion," says Sharp.

These massive Sequoia trees are just some of the attractions visitors can see when they take the Sequoia Shuttle. The shuttle first takes visitors to the Giant Forest Museum. From there they can get on to another shuttle that takes them to other sites around the park.

This year the shuttle will see some improvements. There are more rides that leave at earlier times. The schedule has also changed for buses that travel within the park.

Monty Cox, City Transit, says "What we didn't plan on was a lot of the traffic delays. A lot of the bear jams what they call them."

Cox says last year, ridership for the shuttle was at 30% capacity. They hope to increase that number by 50%. City officials say they've increased the marketing of the shuttle. More reservations have already been booked this year compared to 2007.

Visitors who tried out the shuttle on Wednesday say it was nice to focus on the view rather than driving.

Leticia Garcia, visitor, says "The trip today was fabulous. It was really nice to just sit back and enjoy."

The price to ride the shuttle has increased from $10 to $15, but admission to the park is included. The Sequoia Shuttle offers rides until Labor Day.

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