The Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) will begin its regular schedule of five trips a day, on Highway 41 from Fresno to Yosemite, on Monday, May 15.
The public transportation system that runs year-round on Highways 140 (Merced to Yosemite) and seasonally on 120 (Sonora to Yosemite) and Highways 41 and 395/120 (Mammoth to Yosemite), is a Fresno Council of Government’s project that is managed by the Merced County Association of Governments.
The Highway 41 service had its inaugural run on May 23, 2015, but after 16 months, it was shut down Sept. 30, 2016, due to reduced funding. YARTS announced at the time the shut down was temporary, with plans to start the service again in the spring of 2017.
The Highway 41 service began after five years of planning by YARTS and the Fresno Council of Governments.
YARTS Transit Manager Dick Whittington said the program has a new ticket reservation system that is showing early success, with reservations being made from 39 states and 57 different countries.
“Visitation in Yosemite was 5.2 million in calendar year 2016, a record, and 900,000 more than in 2015,” Whittington said. “We feel this growth trend will continue and see visitors utilizing YARTS more and more as a convenient, alternate driving option to get to Yosemite.”
“As of April 10, we have received a total of 3,320 reservations for all four corridor routes - 900 for the summer season and 207 of those are for the Highway 41 route,” said YARTS Staff Analyst Cindy Kelly.
Buses originating at the Fresno Airport will make stops at the Amtrak and Greyhound stations, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, Coarsegold Market, Best Western in Oakhurst, The Pines Resort at Bass Lake, and Tenaya Lodge before entering Yosemite.
“We have added The Pines Village at Bass Lake as a stop this year so everyone visiting the lake will have a very convenient way to do a day trip to Yosemite at a very reasonable cost,” Whittington said.
Buses will arrive at the Oakhurst Best Western to go Yosemite at 5:35, 7:30, 9:45 and 11:55 a.m., and 2:35 p.m.. Buses will return to the Best Western at 11:40 a.m., and 5:40, 6:20, 7:45 and 9 p.m..
Bags are allowed on YARTS buses, including backpacks of any size. Some backpacks may need to be stored in compartments under the passenger seating. Bikes are allowed in the storage compartments under the bus, as space allows. Bikes can also be rented inside Yosemite.
Service animals are allowed on all YARTS buses, which are all wheelchair accessible. However, this is on a per-ride basis and is dependent upon seating locations on the bus. Contact YARTS 48 hours prior to boarding at (209) 388-9589.
Round-trip tickets cost $30 ($20 for seniors) from Fresno to Yosemite Valley, $15 ($10 seniors) from Coarsegold/Oakhurst. One-way tickets cost $15 ($10 seniors) from Fresno to Yosemite Valley and $8 ($7 seniors) to the park from Coarsegold/Oakhurst. One child, aged 12 and under, receives free entry to the park with purchase of an adult ticket.
Discounted monthly passes and a 20-trip pass for frequent travelers on Highways 41 and 140 are available.
Schedule and ticket details: www.yarts.com.