The City of Asheville will waive bus fares on all Asheville Transit routes May 16 – 20 in support of Strive Not to Drive week. The free fare week is geared toward encouraging Asheville residents to seek out alternative forms of transportation and introducing new riders to the city’s transit system.
“We want to make it easier for people to give transit a try,” said Transportation Planning Manager Mariate Echeverry. “Strive Not to Drive week is a great time to join others in the community in leaving the car at home and seeking out new ways to get around.”
Past promotions have indicated that waiving fares are an effective way to get more people to board the bus. In 2007, the City of Asheville conducted a three-month free-fare period that resulted in a 23% increase in ridership over the course of the promotion. Asheville Transit is currently examining even more strategies for bringing more people onto the bus.
In April, Asheville City Council approved waiving bus fares for Strive Not to Drive, making this year the first time the city transit system has played such a large part in the week.
“We are excited to be part of this great community partnership,” Echeverry said.
The timing is made even more appropriate by the steady increase in the price of gasoline, which has may have played a part in driving more people in Asheville to ride the bus. Numbers compiled by the City of Asheville Transportation Department indicate that ridership has increased steadily since the end of 2010, as the price of a gallon of gas edged toward $4.00. Over that time, the number of riders increased by close to 20 percent, from approximately 100,000 at the beginning of 2011, to around 120,000 at the end of April, growth that may have been aided by the approach of warmer weather.
“There is an apparent correlation between the price of gas and the numbers of people we see riding the transit system,” said Transportation Director Ken Putnam. “People see a useful option for spending less money to get where they need to go.”
The Transportation Department keeps close watch on monthly ridership numbers to identify trends and opportunities for Asheville Transit.
The City of Asheville has undertaken several infrastructure improvements over recent months that make it easier than ever for residents to participate in Strive Not to Drive week, including new bike lanes and sidewalk additions. The Asheville Transit system is currently implementing changes to both buses and routes intended to improve service to its customers, including the introduction of new hybrid buses earlier this year.
Click here for more transportation alternatives during Strive Not to Drive week.
Click here for updates and route information for the Asheville Transit system.