I've been the told by the Powers that Be that the KNS is "headed in a new direction" with this blog and decided to open it up and make it more of a chat room. Though I was never laid off in my many years in Oak Ridge, I can take a hint. Guess they didn't like my stuff, or my message...so whatdahey? I'm takin off the gloves and lettin it fly.
The most replies I got was my piece on Cades Cove. The gist of most replies said shuttles won't work...just charge admission and enforce a law that says you can't stop except at a pull off. Sorry. I don't buy it. The Park Service has no stomach or the funding to post cops (tree pigs they called 'em back in the day) all around the Cove just to make traffic flow. I think that's a riduculous idea myself. It would greatly ruin the experience to see an army of Rangers directing traffic all day. Not my idea of a good time...and certainly not the job most folks go into Rangering to do.
No one ever said WHY shuttles won't work. The bottom line as I see it is that most people like the comfort and security of sitting in their own vehicle, listening to their own musical backdrop while safely removed from anything natural or social. Sorry again, folks. Things gotta change. This ain't Disneyland. Yes it is a place with a warped history, and a strange message (i.e. "We ran out the native folks, then we bought out the settlers, now you can drive around and look at where a few of these people used to live"). Pretty place to look at though. And I admit it was great place to drive around back in the 70s in winter with few other cars, enjoy the deer, some companionship and cheap wine, throw a frisbee in the fields, and listen to the Ozark Mtn. Daredevils or Barefoot Jerry and celebrate the countryside. Well there's just too many people like us and we gotta move on. Before too long we may come to realize we like ridin the shuttle..hope to God they don't have some touchy-feely driver telling us all about the glory of Nature and what an idyllic life these people once lived before we threw their sorry souls out, and instead have WDVX piped in with a kick-arse sound system!
Posted by Ole Slew Foot at September 15, 2005 10:41 PM
You are absolutley right, rangers want to help people and share their love
of the outdoors, not write tickets and chase down the inconsiderate. More
roads and more enforcement will just bring more cars and more inconsiderate
people. I do not love shuttles, I would ride them only as a means to get to
the hiking trails. I have a small kid of my own. He likes trains.
The emails I have received on this have been thoughtful, and are against the shuttle system. One said that rangers do a good job with traffic during the fall crowds. I just make the point that the Park Service has been under funded for many years now. Of the funding it receives the lion's share goes to roads and law enforcement. But it is far from being enough for what it would take to keep the Cove running smoothly all year. Park employees' salaries (as low as they are)are a big expense. The public wants lower taxes, but also wants services that tend to cost more. You can't have both. For those that want to charge fees, remember the Smokies' charter does not allow entrance fees like all other Parks. Maybe they could sneek a special user fee for the Loop Road. Collection would cause a huge traffic snarl going into the Cove though. I'm sorry, but as much as I would personally dislike riding a shuttle, it has proven to work elsewhere, and is the only feasible way to reduce traffic. Maybe allow cars during the week only, maybe only during summer and October. But You all must admit, the situation will not get better by doing nothing or simply making a bigger road.