Asheville City Council approves purchase of new ART buses with combination of federal, local funding


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

During the last five years, the City of Asheville has purchased 16 transit buses to replace vehicles in the fleet that have met its useful service life. The buses purchased include five electric buses, seven hybrid-diesel buses, and four diesel buses. The three buses being purchased will also use diesel fuel. Included in this bus purchase are transit accessories and features such as bike racks, fareboxes, and transit security cameras.

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

The City uses a combination of funding sources to fund its bus purchases, which includes federal transit capital assistance, funds awarded by the French Broad River Metropolitan Organization (MPO), and the City’s General Funds. In addition to the annual transit federal formula funds allocated to the City, staff also applies for and uses competitive federal funds if awarded. For instance, in 2018, the City applied for and was awarded funding from the FTA’s Low No Emission grant funds that was used along with local funds to buy the five electric buses purchased in 2018. Additionally, federal flex funds received from the MPO were used to pay for the eleven buses that have been purchased to date. Some of the remaining MPO funds will be used for the buses being purchased in this fiscal year.

Upon receiving the buses, the Transit Planning staff will work with the City’s Contractor to complete required federal inspections before placing them in service. As recommended in the Transit Master Plan (TMP), staff plans to use the new buses to improve frequency on bus routes in the transit system. Specifically, this will help with plans to increase the frequency on the S3 and S6 Routes which serves residents in south Asheville. Planning efforts are currently underway to improve and increase the bus frequency on both routes from 90 minutes to 45 minutes. As such, the additional buses will assist with ongoing plans to improve and increase service reliability for ART riders.

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

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


About ART bus service

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

The ART Station is at 49 Coxe Ave. ART serves 19 routes with an annual ridership of 2.3 million, per pre-Covid data.

  • It costs $1 to ride the bus.  A ticket booklet (11 rides) 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 upgraded lighting, as well as new lighted digital displays boards and public wi-fi.

If you haven’t already, we invite you to download the Transit app to your smart device, to help plan your trip for better efficiency. Visit the City of Asheville Transit webpage for more information or stop by the ART Transit Center.