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hcjohnsoiv

Asheville Transit Master Plan

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Asheville Transit Master Plan

It involves a signficant reworking of transit routes, and allows for the introduction of higher frequencies, span of service, and sunday routes.

The master plan also mentions the possibility of a 1/4 cent sales tax for transit, which would REVOLUTIONIZE transit financing for the county.

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Thanks for posting this. I was wondering when the full report would be up for review.

Lots of interesting ideas. The changes are fairly significant. The biggest gain will be Sunday service. Routes will be changed, but hopefully the changes will be viewed positively rather than opposed. There will not be much expansion into new areas (Long Shoals Road is the biggest one) but there is a lot of streamlining and reorganization.

The cornerstones of the plan are five trunk routes, with service every 30 minutes. Those are:

  • Patton as far as New Leicester Highway

  • Haywood as far as Brevard

  • Biltmore as far as Biltmore Village

  • Tunnel Road as far as the Mall

  • Merrimon as far as Beaverdam

    In addition, lots of route diversions off the main roads are recommended for elimination. Notably, the Haywood Road routes would no longer circulate in Pisgah View, saving 12 minutes per run, and avoiding delays due to poorly parked cars on narrow streets. I heard that this is something the drivers have requested, especially since they got the new (wider) low floor buses. This would be a big boost in efficiency for the West Asheville routes, and Pisgah View would gain true 30 minute headway service. But Pisgah View is the third-most traveled destination in the whole system (after downtown and the transfer center) so making PV residents walk 1/4 mile to a bus stop when they didn't have to before may be unpopular.

    In most cities, these sort of changes can be implemented easily, as the public doesn't usually care enough to participate in the meetings. But given Asheville's history of public involvement in all sorts of civic matters, any changes have the potential to be highly controversial.

    I'm disappointed that they didn't scrap the current numbering scheme completely and come up with something new. For example, they propose that the two Haywood Road lines be called 1 (Haywood) and 9 (Brevard). The numbers are arbitrary and there is no clue that the routes use the same trunk. I would propose the following scheme:

    • Haywood Road trunk: 1D (Haywood/Deaverview) and 1B (Haywood/Brevard)

    • Merrimon Avenue trunk: 2L (Merrimon/Lakeshore) and 2B (Merrimon/Beaverdam)

    • Patton Avenue trunk: 3E (Patton/Enka) and 3L (Patton/Leicester Hwy)

    • Biltmore Avenue trunk: 4A (Biltmore/Airport) and 4S (Biltmore/Shiloh)

    • Tunnel Road trunk: 5S (Tunnel/Swannanoa) and 5H (Tunnel/Haw Creek)

      • North Asheville loop: 6C (Charlotte -> Montford) and 6M (Montford -> Charlotte)

      That leaves 3 regular routes:

      [*]6: (S French Broad/AB Tech)

      [*]7: Kenilworth

      [*]8: Crosstown

      I'm also disappointed that the report treats the 1/4 cent sales tax as an afterthought. You're right, it would revolutionize transit in Asheville, but I would have liked to see more discussion of what could be done with the money: Higher frequency? Eliminate fares? New facilities? Express routes? "Small Starts" projects like a streetcar on Haywood Road or Biltmore Avenue? Commuter rail to Hendersonville?

      Evidently the tax would have to be approved in a county-wide referendum. The tax must also be levied county-wide, though each municipality would have the choice of either running its own transit system with the money, or forming/joining a coalition with other municipalities. IMO a county-wide system would be best as it would allow for integrated service both inside and outside the city limits. The danger of a sales tax is that every time the economy does poorly, service must be cut. Property taxes are more stable.

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It's too bad there aren't any inactive rail segments that lend themselves to low-cost trolley service a la Savannah and Charlotte.

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Funny you should mention that; actually, there is one pretty significant, nearly inactive rail segment, in North Asheville, though it isn't in a particularly useful location. That would be the railroad along Riverside Drive.

I think Norfolk Southern still serves Silverline Plastics, near Woodfin Ave & Riverside Drive, a couple times a week. However, north of there the line has been abandoned for years. It follows the French Broad River and then Beaverdam Creek, ending up just behind the Westall Chandley lumber store in Woodfin, right across the street from the Reynolds Mountain Village project.

As for its potential as a trolley line... I'm not sure how useful it would be. Given the French Broad's propensity for flooding, and the poor connections to the rest of the city, there isn't a lot of potential for TOD. The terminus at "downtown Woodfin" is useful enough, or at least has the potential to be, and the line gets within about 1/2 mile of UNCA, but that's literally all.

Another thought would be to run it along Broadway to downtown, which brings it closer to UNCA and along a great potential TOD corridor. But that would be more expensive and harder since Broadway would have to be rebuilt.

The railroad, by the way, is in terrible condition. It's limited to 10mph. All the ties and probably the rails would have to be replaced, although the fact that the rails are still there would make it easier to do this.

The other two inactive railroads in WNC that I can think of are the Yancey railroad from Kona to Burnsville (inactive since the 70s) and the Transylvania Railroad which became inactive when the Ecusta mill in Pisgah Forest closed a couple years ago.

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Don't waste your time hoping for rail transit in any form in Asheville. Trains would require new infrastructure, plus rail lines spur development -- and nothing will make an Ashevillian reach for the torch and pitchfork quite like the threat of new construction.

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....nothing will make an Ashevillian reach for the torch and pitchfork quite like the threat of new construction.

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You're so right that it's not even funny. Lots of NIMBY here along with a healthy dose of "what applies to you doesn't apply to me". Had a barking dog issue once, the most verbal person worked to get the dog removed (and the family evicted). Shortly thereafter they bought a dog that made more noise than the one they were so much against.

I'm all for the 30 min runs to certain areas as it would allow me to take the bus in. I've been meaning to more but the hourly runs don't always work for me in the PM.

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The railroad, by the way, is in terrible condition. It's limited to 10mph. All the ties and probably the rails would have to be replaced, although the fact that the rails are still there would make it easier to do this.

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