Date of Award

5-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Hallo, Jeffrey C

Committee Member

Baldwin , Elizabeth D

Committee Member

Mainella , Fran P

Abstract

Acadia National Park, located on Maine's Mount Desert Island, attracts over 2 million visitors each year (National Park Service, 2009). To protect the park's natural resources and provide for superior visitor experiences, the National Park Service established the fare-free Island Explorer bus service in 1999 to transport visitors around the park and to surrounding destinations on Mount Desert Island. This service has seen a steady increase in annual ridership, and will further expand in the future with the completion of an off-island park-and-ride transit hub called the Acadia Gateway Center. The facility would serve as a place for day visitors to park and ride the Island Explorer buses on to Mount Desert Island. Thirty-nine semi-structured interviews and 191 surveys were administered to Mount Desert Island day visitors to determine incentives and disincentives for using this proposed facility. Both quantitative and qualitative results show that the most important factor in a visitor's decision to ride or not ride the Island Explorer is the frequency of buses and the associated length of wait for a bus. Other important factors that emerged from this study such as routing, bus configuration, crowding, driving stress, and environmental values are investigated from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Visitor trip and visit characteristics were examined and significant differences in intention to park at the Acadia Gateway Center and ride the Island Explorer were found. Repeat visitors to Acadia are less likely to park and ride than first-time visitors, and Maine residents are less likely to park and ride than visitors from out of state. Visitors who spend a longer amount of time on Mount Desert Island or lodge nearer to the park are more likely to park and ride than those spending less time or lodging further away.
This thesis is written in the format of a journal article to be submitted to the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration (JPRA). It is formatted in accordance with JPRA article submission guidelines and the American Psychological Association (APA) manuscript submission format. More data was collected than was used for the article; complete questionnaire results are presented in Appendix A. A frequency table summarizing codes derived from qualitative interviews is presented in Appendix B.

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