Asheville installs social distancing measures on ART buses during COVID-19 public health emergency

Transit COVID graphic


City also suspends on-street parking enforcement,
opens garages for free


During this COVID-19 public health emergency, the City of Asheville is working to increase the safety and security of our community, which is always a top priority.  One of those ways is through encouraging social distancing. 


Toward that end, the City’s ART bus service is putting a system in place to minimize contact between people in our community to help curtail the spread of COVID-19.


Starting March 20, ART bus service will be fare-free. Anyone at any stop can get on a bus and go where they need to go without payment. 


This measure minimizes possible exposure to drivers, riders and money handlers by not having riders need to purchase passes at the counter, not having them have to insert passes or money in the farebox, and not need to get transfer tickets from drivers. Because transit is a critical service, we are doing what we can to keep our ART drivers healthy — and driving.


Also, riders will be required to get on and off the bus using the rear door only, unless a rider needs to use the front-door wheelchair ramp or have the bus lowered to ease boarding.  This is an additional measure to increase social distancing between drivers and riders. 


Public health officials strongly encourage that our community limit travel to only necessary medical appointments and errands that help to fulfill basic needs.


Social distancing practices are changes in behavior that can help stop the spread of infection. These often include curtailing social contact, not shaking hands with people and maintaining several feet of space between people you may encounter in public.


While Buncombe County Health and Human Services has not confirmed any active case of COVID-19 in Buncombe County, a COVID-19 test came back as presumptive positive earlier this week on an individual who visited Buncombe County. The City of Asheville continues to work closely with the Buncombe County Health & Human Services to implement control measures as needed.


We are at a critical point in the COVID-19 public health emergency. Our actions now can impact the spread of the virus and avoid overwhelming our healthcare network.

Other preventive control measures implemented on ART buses include:

  • Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in all buses. Additional dispensers are also placed in the station.
  • Interior cleaning of buses and the station is occurring daily at a minimum, focusing on disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.  For example, cleaning of buses interiors is focusing on stop request push buttons, poles, handles, fareboxes, door handles, etc.  
  •  CDC COVID-19 informational posters have been put up in all buses in English and Spanish, as well as at the transit station.

There is coordination among transit providers to coordinate efforts to contain the spread of illness in our community and to promote awareness of those who might be at a higher risk of serious outcomes related to COVID-19.  Decisions about the implementation of community measures will be made by local and state officials based on the scope of the outbreak and the severity of illness.


Parking fees and enforcement suspended

Asheville Parking Services has suspended parking fees and enforcement for on-street parking as well as City parking garages, effective March 18. This measure is being taken to support easier curbside access to downtown businesses and services. The suspension of fees does not apply to private parking lots.


The suspension of parking fees and enforcement will continue through April 5. The City of Asheville will determine at a later date if the suspension of parking fees and enforcement will be extended.  


Vehicles must still park in legal parking spaces.