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orulz

Asheville Transit

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Asheville has a very comprehensive system of bus routes. While some roads carry multiple routes, most individual routes run every 60 minutes from roughly 6am to 6 or 7 pm. Recently (within the past 2 or 3 years) Asheville Transit has begun regional service, first with a link to Hendersonville via a transfer at the airport, then with 5 trips a day to Black Mountain with a local connecter route, and most recently with five trips a day to Weaverville.

According to this article, the Census bureau changed Asheville's classification to an urbanized area of greater than 200,000 people, which means the city is no longer eligible to use some of its federal subsidy for operating expenses.

I have long thought that the city needs better bus service. From what I've seen, the buses can get pretty crowded. The city wants to improve headways, and extend service later into the night, since few service jobs exist where shifts end regularly by 7pm.

The city staff and council have a stated goal of moving towards fare-free transit, although this is a long-term goal.

The loss of federal operating subsidies puts a dent in those plans, so the city is fighting to get the money back.

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Does Asheville Transit foresee any form of light rail transit with available funding in long term planning?

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Something does need to be done about the bus transit system. They are pretty crowded the majority of the time.

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The loss of federal operating subsidies puts a dent in those plans, so the city is fighting to get the money back.

There is really nothing that can be done. The rules are based on Federal law, and I don't think that's changing any time soon. I think it's assumed that once an area reaches 200k+, its transit service can become more operationally self-sufficient.

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There is really nothing that can be done. The rules are based on Federal law, and I don't think that's changing any time soon. I think it's assumed that once an area reaches 200k+, its transit service can become more operationally self-sufficient.
From my understanding, though, the change happened not because of growth, but due to redefining the metro area to include two additional neighboring counties.

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I think Asheville can definitely make a case a unique disadvantage. Asheville's metro cannot be held to nationwide averages for one very important reason: TOPOGRAPHY.

A normal metro area of five neighboring counties and a pop of 200k usually is interconnected by a transportation system of collectors and arteries, interstates, highways etc. We do not have that interconnectedness because the mountains prohibit it. Asheville's economy is essentially isolated from neighboring counties that are supposedly incorporated into the metro.

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I would say that Asheville has pretty good connections to neighbors like Waynesville, Brevard, Hendersonville through narrow flat corridors, where development is concentrated. Rather than completely spread out concentric development, the important areas are a lot easier to connect with a linear model of transit.

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I would say that Asheville has pretty good connections to neighbors like Waynesville, Brevard, Hendersonville through narrow flat corridors, where development is concentrated. Rather than completely spread out concentric development, the important areas are a lot easier to connect with a linear model of transit.

you're right, i agree.

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Its not so much getting from Asheville out that I am talking about, but getting from each community to the next. A good example is Waynesville and Brevard. They are about 25, 30 miles apart as the crow flies, but a truck or bus has to drive through Asheville to get from one to the other, and that takes an hour and a half.

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According to this Citizen-Times article, Asheville is considering making its buses fare-free and extending service for an additional three hours into the evening. This might happen for a 90-day trial period, some time in the near future.

I've heard that the very left-leaning city council has been considering fare-free buses, but the extra hours of service is welcome news to me. If they do end up making this work, hopefully they'll keep the changes permanent. Looking at how ridership on Chapel Hill Transit has skyrocketed since they went fare-free, perhaps ridership in Asheville will do the same thing.

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Fare-Free? That's great! I really hope more people will consider riding the buses. But if the buses are fare-free, how will the city pay for them?

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Fares don't pay all the costs of running buses. If they did, then we'd see private companies stepping in and trying to make a profit. In NC, farebox recovery for bus service generally runs around 25%. The remaining 75% is paid for by state/federal grants, and city taxpayers.

I think that extended service hours are far more important than going fare-free, since almost all buses in Asheville are off the road by 7:00 - that's pathetic.

Using Chapel Hill as an example, Asheville might expect as much as a 50% increase in ridership after elimination of fares. That would be extremely impressive...

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