The first phase of the City of Asheville’s Transit Master Plan was set into motion on Monday, May 21, as Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy and members of City Council officially launched the Asheville Redefines Transit (ART) system.
Following a bus ride around downtown Asheville in which Transportation Director Ken Putnam described system improvements, the mayor and council members stood in front of City Hall and cut the ceremonial ribbon. Mayor Bellamy praised council for its leadership in approving the master plan in 2009 and for prioritizing sustainable and multi-modal transportation in Asheville.
“We could not have done this without the commitment of city council,” Bellamy said.
City staff has worked closely with the city’s Transit Commission, transit riders and the public at large to make the plan a reality. Commission Chair Julie Mayfield was on hand for the celebration. “This is a great day for Asheville and the transit system,” she said. “This will better serve the people already riding the bus and better serve the people we want to get riding the bus.”
ART system upgrades provide increased frequency along major corridors, improve on-time performance, improve service for people with disabilities, consolidate daytime and nighttime service and make more connections with sidewalks. Access to digital route information also makes planning trips easier.
In order to help the launch of the ART system go smoothly, volunteers are positioned at the ART station at 49 Coxe Avenue to assist riders in taking advantage of the updated route information. Bus drivers are also equipped with post cards that show where to find information about the improvements.
The ribbon cutting was held in conjunction with the Mayor’s Leadership Community Ride for Strive Not to Drive Week and Asheville’s bicycle community was out in force for the occasion. The City of Asheville was recently recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a bicycle friendly community, another step in advancing multi-modal goals for the city.
See timetables, route information and more about the ART system at ridetheart.com. Bus fares are free through June 8.
See more pictures from the launch event and Mayor’s Ride here.