ART Sunday bus service gets rolling with nine routes

Asheville bus driver Accem Scott recieves a fare at the Coxe Ave. downtown station Sunday morning. He said Sunday service was something passengers consistently asked for.

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.

Julie Mayfield, chair of the city's transit committee, speaks at a press conference welcoming Sunday bus service Jan. 4.
Julie Mayfield, chair of the city’s transit committee, was proud to announce Sunday bus service Jan. 4. The extra day was born out of the 2012 transit master plan initiative. (Photos by Pat Barcas)

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.”

ART driver Accem Scott said he thinks the E1 and W1 routes will be very popular.
ART driver Accem Scott welcomes passengers Sunday. He said he thinks the E1 and W1 routes will be very popular.

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.”

Gwen Wisler, city council member and Multimodal Transportation Commission liaison, said Sunday service will allow people to cheaply get to their employment.
Asheville Council member and Multimodal Transportation Commission liaison Gwen Wisler, right, said Sunday service will allow people to cheaply get to their employment. Wisler and other city officials welcomed passengers Sunday at the Coxe Avenue ART station.

For route information, click here.

 

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About Pat Barcas
Pat is a photojournalist and writer who moved to Asheville in 2014. He previously worked for a labor and social rights advocacy newspaper in Chicago. Email him at pbarcas@gmail.com. Follow me @pbarcas

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