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Bus Ridership


Data Description & Source

Description: Number of riders annually by fiscal year

Notes: Beginning in 2015, ridership county systems changed to rely on electronic counting which is considered to be more accurate than drivers manually tracking riders.

Source: City of Asheville Art Ridership Data

Story Behind the Curve

Asehville Redesigns Transit (ART) ridership has been increasing steadily. The significant increase in ridership numbers from FY2015 to FY2016 may be attributed to the addition of Sunday service and the change in ridership counting systems. ART reports that Sunday service began in 2015 and that new routes take roughly a year to gain ridership. Additionally, ART now uses electronic counting systems, which is considered to be more accurate than the drivers manually tracking riders.

The Asheville in Motion mobility plan reports there is a higher percentage of households without access to vehicles in Asheville compared to North Carolina with 10.8% and 6.5% respectively. Asheville Redefines Transit (ART) is the provider in the city of Asheville. ART operates 17 routes and serves more than 5,000 riders per day. ART has two fundamental missions over providing convenient options for choice riders and also providing access to jobs and daily needs for captive riders. These missions are carried out in two distinctly different ways and in Asheville there is not enough funding available to fulfill both types of routes. ART's ridership is highly transit dependent and most riders take more than one bus per trip and make mutliple transfers.

The Asheville in Motion plan conducted community assessment that indicated increased safety for all protected pedestrian routes, bike routes, and transit routes are needed; bus schedules do not allow for transfers within a reasonable amount of time; and that rural transport should be a consideration. Main issues impacting transit accessibility include: transit frequency continues to be an issue, transit is largely unreliable, one has to transfer many times to get to where he/she needs to go, and more investment is needed in public transit.

What Works

Community Partners have identified the following strategies and interventions:

Cross Promotion of Transit and Trails: Signage can promote more use of the combination of public transit with trails for walking and biking and can raise public awareness about these facilities. Adding transit access information to bicycle and pedestrian wayfinding signs and bicycle and pedestrian facilities and trails maps can facilitate transit use by these individuals. Providing information about bicycle and pedestrian facilities at public transit maps and on other informational media developed for passengers can facilitate use of bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Additionally, signage, maps and other information on transit agency and government websites and mobile phone apps should provide enough information to enable a trail user to switch modes to public transit and vice versa.

Pedestrian access to bus stops: Incorporate transit service and ridership data in sidewalk prioritization methods and continue to invest in linkages between bus stop and nearest intersection and intersection crossings. Evaluate crossing needs at signalized and midblock stop locations can facilitate safe and easy ridership. To ensure that riders of all abilities can access transit, upgrade curb ramps to current standards when bus stops are upgraded. Assess gaps in system between bus stops and destinations for riders

Make opportunities more accessible to necessity riders: Expanded coverage to make transit opportunities more accessible to necessity riders is very important. Programs such as Council on Aging's Call a Ride and Mountain Mobility have been effective formats for providing access to necessity riders.

Engage diverse community voices: It is important to engage diverse community voices to provide a comprehensive picture of how transit facilities benefit the community including both necessity and convenience riders to accurately plan and implement changes. Additionally, they can provide perspectives to promote use of the transit system among diverse groups of people.

Educating kids and enhancing Safe Routes to School: This strategy can be implements by working with regional Active Routes to School coordination, determining percentage of students who live within walking distance of schools, and identifying high priority schools for Safe Routes to School programs. Recommendation from AIM.

Examples of Similar Strategies Elsewhere:

Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Active Transportation Funding Policy: The intent of the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (MPO) Active Transportation Funding Policy is to change the built environment to make active transportation easier and safer to use. The Active Transportation Funding Policy includes two key elements: (1) dedicated funding for active transportation infrastructure and education about active transportation and (2) the application of scoring criteria that incorporates active transportation indicators. Because of these environmental changes, it will be safer and more convenient for people to walk, bike or take transit.

Trailnet - Healthy Active Vibrant Communities: A model that uses community engagement and community development principles to empower communities to support and promote healthy eating and active lifestyles. The intent of this intervention is to build communities’ capacity to implement policy and environmental changes and build healthy social networks to address obesity. The HAVC Initiative is focused in low-income and at-risk communities, where the need is often greatest. HAVC activities are tailored to complement the unique assets, needs, and interests of each community.

Action Plan

See activity indicator for action plan.

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