A cab ride from Asheville to Hendersonville, downtown to downtown, will set you back about $40 to $50, according to the Checker Cab Company in Hendersonville.
If you go Greyhound, it’ll put you about a half-mile from downtown in either city, and it drops the fare to $8.75 one way (a dollar more on weekends), according to the national bus line’s automated ticket service.
But if you opt, instead, for an hourlong ride on the Young Transportation-Tours bus that the state has contracted to run between the two downtowns, it’ll set you back a cool dollar.
You read it right: $1. You could probably fish that amount of change out of the back seat of your car (which, depending on what kind of gas mileage it gets, might be hard-pressed to take you the 25 miles from Asheville to Hendersonville for a buck).
The Young Transportation bus runs between the Visitors Information Center on Main Street in Hendersonville and the main post office (next to the Asheville Transit Center) on Coxe Avenue in downtown Asheville.
When the route opened in June, the fare was $5 a ride. The price was cut about six weeks ago in an effort to attract more passengers, explained Young Transportation President Ralph Young. And barring any outrageous jumps in gas prices, it’ll stay at $1.
“What we’re after is ridership,” Young said.
But the cheap fare has yet to lure more than a handful of customers a day; the three times I’ve made the trip — I live in Hendersonville — I’ve had scant company.
“It’s slow going,” conceded Young. “It is growing a little bit, but it’s not near where we need it to be.”
It’s not the price that’s attracted Marilyn Perdue as much as the practicality. Perdue, 61, walks with a cane due to ongoing hip trouble, and she no longer drives.
The Young Transportation bus gives her a way to travel back and forth without having to rely on her daughters (one lives in Asheville, the other in Hendersonville).
“It’s been very helpful,” she said.
When I spoke with Perdue several weeks ago, she was about to move to a seniors’ community in Asheville, near a city bus stop that she said would make it a lot easier to meet her shopping needs.
In Hendersonville, Perdue had to walk about a mile up a steep grade to the nearest Apple County Transportation stop, where she could catch the local bus to the Visitors Information Center. From there, she’d board the 9 a.m. Young Transportation bus for Asheville.
Beginning Monday, Dec. 9, that bus will leave at 8 a.m. instead. Morning and midday departures for the Asheville-Hendersonville route are all being moved up an hour.
“What we’re trying to do is accommodate workers,” Young explained.
But the late-afternoon departures won’t change — which could make things tricky for commuters, since the last bus leaves Asheville at 4 p.m.
The Young Transportation bus makes three stops en route — the Tarheel Bowling Lanes parking lot outside Mountain Home, the Ingle’s Market complex in Fletcher, and the Asheville Regional Airport.
One recent morning, a man carting luggage got on at the latter stop. He looked beat; he’d been sitting in airports for hours, he confessed, trying to get back home to Asheville after what had been, up till then, a relaxing vacation in Vegas.
“That’s another thing about riding the bus,” observed Perdue. “You meet interesting people.”
Beginning Monday, Dec. 9, the new weekday schedule will be as follows (no buses run on weekends):
|Depart Asheville||Arrive Hendersonville|
|7:00 am||8:00 am|
|11:00 am||12:00 pm|
|4:00 pm||5:00 pm|
|Depart Hendersonville||Arrive Asheville|
|8:00 am||9:00 am|
|12:00 pm||1:00 pm|
|5:00 pm||6:00 pm|
For more information on Asheville bus schedules, go to ashevilletransit.com. To find out more about the Asheville-Hendersonville route, call Young Transportation-Tours at 258-0084.