Update On Proposed Bus Service Changes From Elias Mathes

I appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback on the Draft Routing Recommendations from the Transit Master Plan.  Below is some additional information on this issue which I provided to Steve and some of your other concerned neighbors.  Please note that the plan is still being shaped and the changes that we are making based on public feedback should address most of the concerns that have been identified.

Let me provide some additional information about why these recommendations were made, what the goal is, and how they have already changed based on public feedback.  The Haw Creek Neighborhood is currently served by Route E2 once an hour on the inbound trip only; meaning a person must go to the end of Tunnel Road and back on each trip that they make to Haw Creek, which is a major inconvenience for riders and adds a lot of time to their commute.  The average daily ridership in Haw Creek is low, and Route E2 has the worst on-time performance (OTP) of any route in the system; it arrives late approximately 50% of the time, which is also a major inconvenience for riders.  The primary reason for poor OTP on Route E2 is that the route has too many locations to cover and can’t do it all in one hour, and that situation will be exacerbated as more development happens along Tunnel Road.

The consultant team originally proposed to address this issue by reducing the number of Route E2 trips through Haw Creek to only peak times; this is what is currently shown on the Transit Master Plan website, and what was presented at our public meeting on April 26.  City Staff feedback to the consultant team, as well as feedback from the public, was that this reduction in service was too severe and would not meet the needs of the residents of Haw Creek.  So the Draft Routing Recommendations that were originally shared have already changed considerably.  The team is now moving in a different direction with the recommendations that I believe will provide a better service to Haw Creek.  The updates that the team is developing now would have a new bus route that would connect Haw Creek directly with downtown and would provide service every other hour.  While this would be a reduction from the current hourly service, it will be  a direct service so riders don’t have to go to the end of Tunnel Road like they are now, and it will allow more time to serve other areas in the neighborhood that were previously removed under the last Transit Master Plan, including Spruce Hill Apartments on Waters Rd.  This most recent update should improve service to Haw Creek by increasing the number of people served by the bus, making sure the bus arrives on schedule, and providing a shorter and more direct connection to downtown.  The Draft Plan will provide a detailed timeline for implementation, but any changes that are being proposed now would likely not happen until summer of 2019.

I hope this information is helpful and addresses some of your concerns about the proposed changes.  The Draft Plan is scheduled to be posted for comments on April 23rd and will include the updates that I described.  The changes that are already happening are a direct result of the feedback that we have received so I appreciate you taking the time to reach out and discuss these issues, it is important to the process and is helping us make this plan better for the riders.  If you have additional questions or comments, please let me know and I will assist any way I can.  Thanks!

Elias Mathes

Transit Planning Manager

City of Asheville