Strategy AC2.4: Formalize informal park-and-ride lots by implementing agreements with businesses, houses of worship, and other organizations.
The GroWNC region shares commuting patterns. Based on 2010 data from the U.S. Census Longitudinal Employer-Household Dataset (LEHD) program, 75 percent of workers who reside in the five GroWNC counties also work within the five counties, meaning there is not that much out-commuting. Further, almost half of GroWNC residents work in Buncombe County, and about 15 percent work in Henderson County. Commuting is further concentrated around the major employment areas of Asheville, Hendersonville, and the airport, but there are major employment clusters in most cities in the region.
Park-and-ride service would connect existing and new park-and-ride lots with new bus service, including express bus routes to downtowns and major medical and education areas. Park-and-ride service allows residents of the GroWNC region access to key employment centers and maximizes the impact of limited funding. This service would be more economical than full fixed-route transit service by only operating at peak hours and by minimizing stops to provide express service to key employment hot spots. Park-and-ride service also means that some valuable land in downtowns that may have been previously needed to provide parking can be put to more efficient use by reducing parking demand in central cities. Regional park-and-ride service improves access to jobs, supports more efficient use of existing infrastructure, promotes alternatives to driving, helps reduce air and water pollution, and supports efficient land use.
Park-and-ride service service should focus, at least initially, around Asheville because so much employment in the region is concentrated there. A downtown Asheville transfer center makes this service more viable by providing a centralized location for park-and-ride service buses that connects riders to all locations served by Asheville Transit, as well as brings park-and-ride service shuttle riders into the heart of the city. The Land-of-Sky Regional Council has identified existing park-and-ride lots. Steps should be taken to ensure that both formal and informal facilities are represented on system maps, and that gaps in the system are addressed. Additional public outreach and amenities, such as lighting, shelters, and emergency phones, might be needed to inform the public and to attract potential users to the existing and new park-and-ride lot locations.