Asheville’s public bus system rolled out some major changes this week.
In addition to new and revised routes, Asheville Rides Transit also saw a 25-percent increase in service hours. That means buses are spending more time on the road picking up passengers, according to Marcela Moreno, a transit projects coordinator for the city.
“Getting people to the places they need to go, whether that’s jobs, their errands, medical appointments or getting to your leisure activities,” Moreno said. “That’s going to be a really great benefit for everyone.”
Moreno says two of the biggest changes this year will be new cross-town routes. They are crosstown routes that stretch from West Asheville to East Asheville, where riders previously had to make transfers.
Looking at North to South, now routes serving UNC Asheville will provide direct service to AB Tech. Additionally, AB Tech now has buses that run every 30 minutes, so students and faculty will have more options for getting to class on time.
As West Asheville continues to expand, ART is adding bus routes to accommodate the increased traffic and development in that area. A new route called W6 connects the main downtown ART station to Haywood Road, to an Ingles grocery store, then loops back from Pisgah View Apartments.
In addition to improving access to transportation, Moreno is quick to point out the broader community impact.
“It’s a really critical way to achieve a lot of really positive things for the community. Better air quality, getting cars off the road, improving congestion," Morelo said.
She adds, it’s also a great way to feel a little more connected to the community, rather than isolated in a car.
Moreno says the changes that took effect this week include 30 new or relocated bus stops. She says ART will continue to monitor data on the new routes and gather feedback from riders to edits if necessary.