4/30/2012 - Free bus rides to coincide with makeover of Asheville bus system
by Romando Dixson - Asheville Citizen Times
ASHEVILLE -- Forget everything you know about Asheville Transit, even the name.
Beginning May 21, the city transit system will operate as Asheville Redefines Transit and will introduce a new look, new logo, new routes and new rides.
The launch will coincide with free bus rides from May 21-June 8 and highlight the first phase of the system's master plan implementation.
It will also overlap weeklong Strive Not Drive events in which residents are encouraged to walk, bicycle, ride the bus or carpool as opposed to driving alone in a car.
Transit officials announced earlier this month that sweeping changes were on the way. The first of six informational sessions is 4-7 p.m. today at the U.S. Cellular Center banquet hall and designed to help riders with any questions they may have. New schedules and maps will also be available at the sessions.
Mariate Echeverry, transportation planning manager, said every route is changing in some way, even if it's just the schedule. Five other sessions will follow in different parts of the city.
"Everybody will need to look at routes again and make sure they understand what is happening," she said.
The changes will come without an increase in the transit system's $5.7 million budget and without an increase in fares. The frequency of service on major corridors will be increased to twice per hour.
"This is a great change for the system and first of many others," she said. "I think it's going to be great for consistent riders and new riders. It's going to be much more convenient for these two groups. In general, it's going to be a more convenient service."
Money planned for the changes next month was found by cutting routes that are less busy, Echeverry said.