Life in the Fast Lane
With about 4 million visitors last year, Yosemite, known for its stunning scenery, has developed a reputation for something quite unwanted: traffic.
Best way to avoid it? Climb aboard the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System, better known as YARTS.
YARTS provides easy connection service to people traveling by air, train and bus. If you're flying on United Airlines into Fresno, Stockton or Mammoth Lakes, you can have your YARTS fare included on your plane ticket. That way, you just show your boarding pass to a YARTS driver as you board your bus.
A similar arrangement is in place for Amtrak passengers who travel into Fresno, Mammoth Lakes or Merced stations and for Greyhound Bus passengers who connect in Merced or Fresno terminals. More than 1.5 million riders have enjoyed the YARTS experience so far.
Multiple YARTS Stops
If you're traveling by car, the buses make stops along four routes into the park. Here they are:
- Hwy. 120/395 starting in Mammoth Lakes on the east side of the park.
- Hwy. 120 starting in Sonora to the west of the park
- Hwy. 41 originating in Fresno.
- Hwy. 140 starting in Merced.
Along the way to the park, YARTS has stops at designated park and ride lots, campgrounds and RV parks.
YARTS staff recommends showing up at the YARTS stop early to beat the crowds and to ensure your watch is in sync with the YARTS drivers’ atomic clocks. The bus drivers don’t leave a stop until their clocks hit the scheduled departure time. Before boarding, you can load any strollers, backpacks, bikes or luggage into the stowage area.
Once aboard the air-conditioned bus equipped with a restroom, you can even strap your baby car seat into a three-point seat belt. Whittington says YARTS was the first public transportation agency in the country to use three-point seat belts.
Ride Free Park Shuttle
As you enter the park, YARTs buses get to use the “bus-only” lane when park traffic is heavy, which means less time for you in a vehicle and more time outdoors in the park. Once you’re in the Yosemite Valley, you can get to where you want to go by taking the free park shuttle. It serves the valley, El Capitan, Tuolumne Meadows (in the summer) and Badger Pass Ski Area, recently known as the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area, (in winter). Without having to worry about where to park at trailheads or visitor centers, you can maximize your time in the park.
And at the end of the day, you don’t have to worry about the drive home.
“I had friends in from Ohio, and we rode the bus to and from the park,” says Dick Whittington, a former YARTS employee. “We walked everywhere we went. At the end of the day, we got on the bus, and I tell you I was tired. I leaned back and was never so glad to have someone else drive in my life.”
For more information:
To check the fare from a specific location, visit www.yarts.com or call 877-989-2787. Updates on YARTS schedules can also be found on Facebook and Twitter by searching for @rideyarts.