Asheville’s ART transit system now has Sunday service.
Buses rolled out of the Coxe Ave. downtown station at 8 a.m. today, providing 67 hours of Sunday service on nine of the city’s 17 routes. The Sunday route is expected to increase ridership by 85,000 per year.
The 2012 transit master plan initiative was the genesis of the Asheville Redefines Transit moniker. Its purpose was to increase ridership and make public transit accessible to more people in the city.
“I’m happy to say today that redefining takes another step today with Sunday service,” said Julie Mayfield, chair of the city’s Transit Committee.
The ART system provides 120,000 rides monthly, with Sunday service boosting the total by 7,000. Funding came from $112,000 of the general fund, approved by Asheville’s City Council in October, to match a federal one year Job Access and Reverse Commute grant.
“Cost was our number one hurdle in this,” said Asheville Transit Projects Coordinator Yuri Koslen.
He said since it’s a one year grant, future funding will be a challenge, but if the extra day of service is a success, funding will come.
“The master plan allowed us to compile verbal and written requests during the planning effort and public hearings, and Sunday service was always number one,” he said. “People want this.”
Accem Scott, who has been an ART bus driver for about a year, said he consistently hears from passengers how much they’d like Sunday service. Today he drove the S4 bus on the A-B Tech route, picking up the first of his passengers after 8 a.m.
“One of the big things I hear, people want to go to the mall, or to church,” he said. “I expect the E1, serving the mall, or W1 routes, serving West Asheville — they’re going to be swamped. Everybody wants it.”
The matching federal grant is designed to get people out to their jobs as well as out looking for jobs, thus boosting the economy.
“This Sunday service is going to allow people to run their errands and go to their jobs, and it’s going to allow Asheville to become more of an economically vibrant city,” said Gwen Wisler, city council member and Multimodal Transportation Commission liaison. “This is a big deal, a big addition for our citizens.”
For route information, click here.