Asheville City Council Approves Purchase of New ART Buses with Combination of Federal and Local Funding


Three new buses will be added to the Asheville Rides Transit (ART) fleet, as part of actions taken by Asheville City Council. At its December 14 meeting, Council approved a resolution to purchase three Gillig 30-foot diesel buses to replace the fleet buses as they near their useful life.

Over the past five years, the City of Asheville has purchased 16 transit buses to replace fleet vehicles that have reached their useful life. The buses purchased include five electric buses, seven diesel hybrid buses and four diesel buses. The three purchased buses will also use diesel fuel. This bus purchase includes transit accessories and features such as bicycle racks, ticket boxes, and transit security cameras.

This $ 1.6 million purchase is part of the City’s annual bus purchases undertaken to replace existing buses that have reached their useful lives in accordance with the Bus Life Policy and Guidelines and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) vans. This FTA policy establishes the minimum number of years (or miles) transit vehicles purchased with federal funds must be in service before they can be removed without financial penalty. The minimum service life of the ART buses is 350,000 and / or 10 years.

The City uses a combination of funding sources to finance its bus purchases, which includes federal capital assistance for public transit, funds granted by the French Metropolitan Broad River Organization (MPO) and the Town’s General Fund. In addition to the annual federal formula for transit funds allocated to the City, staff also request and use competitive federal funds if allocated. For example, in 2018, the city applied for and received funding from the FTA’s Low No Emission grant fund which was used along with local funds to purchase the five electric buses purchased in 2018. In addition, flexible federal funds received from DFO were used. to pay for the eleven buses that have been purchased to date. A portion of remaining DFO funds will be used for buses purchased this fiscal year.

Upon receiving the buses, transit planning staff will work with the City’s contractor to complete the required federal inspections before they are put into service. As recommended in the Public transport master plan (TMP), staff plan to use the new buses to improve the frequency of bus trips in the transit system. Specifically, this will contribute to plans to increase frequency on the S3 and S6 routes that serve residents of southern Asheville. Planning efforts are currently underway to improve and increase the frequency of buses on both routes from 90 minutes to 45 minutes. As such, the additional buses will contribute to ongoing plans to improve and increase service reliability for ART users.

The City believes that the frequency and speed of service are the keys to ensuring that current ART users continue to use the transit service for their mobility needs, as well as in attracting new users to use ART. We also believe that this investment will help make ART more convenient and attractive as much as possible.

To read the staff report to Council, visit this link.

About the ART bus service

Asheville Rides Transit operates a bus service through Asheville and Black Mountain from 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and holidays.

The ART station is located at 49, avenue Coxe. ART serves 19 routes with an annual ridership of 2.3 million, according to pre-Covid data.

  • It costs $ 1 to take the bus. A ticket book (11 trips) costs $ 9 and a monthly pass costs $ 20. Both are available for purchase at the ART Transit Center, 49 Coxe Ave.
  • The ART transit station, 49 Coxe Ave., has been completely renovated, including improvements to the interior of the station / lobby, additional outdoor seating and improved lighting, as well as new billboards illuminated digital and public Wi-Fi.

If you have not already done so, we invite you to download the Public transport application to your smart device, to help you plan your trip for better efficiency. Visit the City of Asheville Transit Webpage for more information or go to ART transit center.


Wiley C. Thompson