Mountain Mobility can do more

I have never been to any of your cultural events, small restaurants, craft fairs, films, etc. You name it, I haven’t been there. Ditto for places and events in Asheville Citizen-Time’s The Scene, or anything in the Mountain Xpress’ Go Local Guide.

I have lived in Asheville for just over a year. Unfortunately, I can only travel by Mountain Mobility, and it doesn’t go anywhere except big-box stores, pharmacies (by special arrangement in advance) and medical appointments.

In the past, I have done many years of volunteer work. Mountain Mobility doesn’t go there either, though I would like to do that again.

Users of Mountain Mobility are not all seriously disabled. We are mostly retired, older people with a lot of time on our hands.

We would like to patronize small businesses, bakeries, Pigsah Market, etc. We would also be willing to do volunteer work. The list of what we can’t do is greater than what we can, because of the limitations of Mountain Mobility. I am heartsick at the waste of my time, which could be put to good use — and at how little of Asheville I have seen in the last year — except from the window of a van.

I don’t know how many people Mountain Mobility transports each day, but there are many vans full, making dozens of trips. We all want to do more.

Maybe local businesses can put pressure on Mountain Mobility to change its ways. Media always want us to patronize local, but we can’t.

— Marilyn Bergen

Hope Bleecker, transit program manager at Land-of-Sky Regional Council for Mountain Mobility, responds:

Thank you for your letter to the editor of the Mountain Xpress regarding Mountain Mobility, Buncombe County’s community transportation system.

Mountain Mobility has been operating in Buncombe County since 1989 and provides transportation services to older adults, persons with disabilities and limited general public transportation within the county. Last year, the service supplied 159,974 one-way trips, or an average of 597 trips per day.

Mountain Mobility’s transportation service for persons over 60 years of age, which you referenced in your letter, serves medical appointments to and from origins and destinations anywhere within Buncombe County. Due to funding limitations, older-adult transportation services are geared toward helping individuals meet their daily living needs and maintain independence.

The county applies for available federal and state public transportation grant funding, provides significant matching funds and makes every effort to maximize transportation opportunities by coordinating the use of over 20 funding sources. However, there are still limitations to the amount of funding that is available, which is part of the reason that some services may be either limited in scope or not available at all. The county does allocate some grant funds to support transportation for volunteers working with specific programs, such as the Foster Grandparent Program and Senior Companions.

The county has also provided grant and local funds to support other community transportation options. Buncombe County Council on Aging operates a “Call-A-Ride Plus” program, which assists with transportation needs through a pool of volunteer drivers. Also, Buncombe County offers an additional option for disabled persons who are unable to ride the city bus. The program is known as RIDE, (Ridership Independence for Elderly and Disabled Persons). Many Mountain Mobility riders use the RIDE program on Sundays when the buses are not operating, as well as for certain trip purposes which aren’t currently served by Mountain Mobility.

Please accept my sincere and unreserved apology for any inconveniences you may have experienced. I encourage you to please contact me directly at 828-251-6622 so that we can talk more about Mountain Mobility and other transportation options.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

4 thoughts on “Mountain Mobility can do more

  1. annie avery

    on the way home from work this afternoon, i looked up to see if there were any new notices floating above my head. there was one which is fairly new which proudly states: ART provides city-wide complementary para-transit service for people within 3/4 mile of routes. Eligible recipients can use para-transit to:
    -go shopping
    -attend medical appointments
    -go to school
    -go to work
    -go to any other activity
    -run errands.


    marilyn, i suggest you contact someone to advocate for you in order to find out why your needs have not been met.

    and calling that number may produce the very answers you require.

  2. Ashton

    Wow. Im only twelve and being locked in the car all day is right up there with nightmares on my least favorite list.

    • Geoffrey

      You’re a smart kid!: I suggest moving after you grow up!: Keep public transportation in mind, always, when moving.

      I noted a wise pundit somewhere online: He indicated that this area in Dixie likely will end up as something akin to southern California and LA: Smog, endless and difficult freeways, linking small communities, and congestion. Already, traffic congestion here proves so difficult that it’s beginning to hurt tourism: The roads in WNC weren’t intended for anywhere near this number of vehicles. Widening I-240 will not alleviate congestion much on WNC’s secondary roads, either. (Widening freeways was something which California started–long ago. Widening roads added increased complexity and difficulty. Really, it didn’t solve the problems. Northern California’s San Franscisco did “bite the bullet,” of public trans then though: Their familiar streetcars, trains, and buses actually exist. Thus, southern Californians wish to reside up north. San Francisco thus is considered a crowning jewel city–worldwide.)

      Seemingly, every major US city has some sort of “command center,” full of people watching the roads via remote cameras: That sort of thing increases expense and complexity–of course! So much for “freedom” from government and taxes….

      Problems with Mountain Mobility, and public transportation in general:

      1. Public transportation proves almost totally dependent upon the Federal Government. Localities provided venues.

      2. About half of America doesn’t see the wisdom of extending public transportation. In their view, it’s more government and expense, more taxes. (To such people, I’d point out the considerable and increasing expense of vehicles these days–wear and tear, gas, insurance, storage, etc. Nonetheless, they insist that workers crawl on the roadways–back and forth–every workday. Why can’t we end that, at least? Every year, congestion and driving becomes evermore difficult and unpleasant.)

      3. Public transportation virtually always is subsidized. (In a sense, though, all transportation and conveyance is subsidized: Note how the roads fall apart after every winter–salt weakens concrete and asphalt. The inevitable heat and cold induces roads to “buckle” further, too. Roads and bridges in the US need fixing–badly. Incredibly, resistance exists even to sensible road and bridge maintenance and enhancement, though. The public refuses to note the inevitable. Another major bridge or overpass failure, with fatalities, proves quite likely.)

      4. Google and Apple prove interested in automating vehicles–a worthy goal which long has escaped us. For a long time, this concept wasn’t even breathing hard: Finally now, it is. After all, people prefer to remain isolated and alone, in their personal “bubbles.” Google and/or Apple likely will succeed–not anytime soon, though. Nonetheless, these mere few electrical charges in certain brains present a potent argument against enhancing public transportation, too. (Naturally, public transportation also then will meet automation: No serious reason then might exist for killing it on Sunday: After all, the US workforce exists 24/7/366 these days.)

      5. People are immortal and never fail–they never age and die, do they?! They remain 18-23 forever, right?!: Seriously, America–in a general sense–is aging: This need for enhanced public transportation “further down the road” becomes increasingly imperative. Apparently instead, people here these days prefer “demolition derby” on our roads: So be it!

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.