WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. (Dec. 15, 2015) — Buffalo Bus Touring Co., a Yellowstone National Park tour operator based in West Yellowstone, has partnered with Alliance Tire Group (ATG) to test out the firm's low-pressure flotation tires for use at the famous park.
For the past 60 years, all winter vehicles in Yellowstone National Park have been required to run on rubber tracks in order to protect fragile landscapes. This year, Randy Roberson, owner of Buffalo Bus Touring, will be putting Alliance low-pressure flotation tires to the test traversing the snows of the park.
“The National Park Service has strict rules for maintaining the impact of vehicles on the park's environment and on the visitor experience, limiting the physical effects of driving as well as noise levels,” said Anthony Cresta, field sales engineer for Alliance Tire Americas Inc.
“Low-pressure flotation tires are made to ride gently on top of fragile surfaces like snow pack and leave the terrain below as intact as possible. That makes them an excellent alternative to continuous drive tracks, which can cause a racket and be much more expensive to install and maintain.”
This will be the third year of Mr. Roberson's study pitting flotation tires against tracks, Alliance said. Analysis of his 2013-2014 trials reported that flotation tires:
- Improved fuel economy by as much as 300 percent;
- Lowered up-front costs by as much as 600 percent;
- Generated savings on trip costs of more than $200 per vehicle per day;
- Reduced sound emissions by more than 14 decibels;
- Suffered fewer mechanical failures; and
- Caused less distraction and fatigue among drivers and guides.
According to Alliance, last year Mr. Roberson tested 600/50R22.5 Alliance 382 DOT All-Steel flotation tires — rated for speeds of up to 62 mph on the highway — on one of his coaches. This year, in addition to the 382 models, he will add Alliance 381 tires in 710/40R22.5 and 620/50R22.5 sizes to the trial.
A survey of more than 300 customers last year show the tourists' reactions to riding on the low-pressure tires was “consistently positive,” Mr. Roberson said.
“Based on every mode of communication with our guests, from our guides and Yellowstone visitors we encountered from other companies, a transition to this type of over-snow vehicle would not only be accepted, it would be preferred.”