MADERA COUNTY — YARTS buses will start rolling up Highway 41 to Yosemite National Park starting Monday, May 15, thanks to funding from the Fresno Council of Governments (COG) and the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS).
Now that YARTS has resumed service on the busy corridor, residents and visitors alike will be able to access round-trip public transportation to and from Fresno, through Eastern Madera County and into Yosemite National Park. YARTS on Highway 41 runs in summer only, through Sept. 15, and there are a couple of good changes this year.
YARTS stops on Highway 41 include Coarsegold, Oakhurst, Bass Lake, Fish Camp, Wawona and Yosemite Valley.
With the new stop at The Pines Resort at Bass Lake, visitors can even choose to fly into Fresno International Airport and travel to the foothills, up to the lake and into Yosemite without ever having to rent a car.
The current plan is for five buses a day making the round-trip into the park. Unlike last year, there will be no commuter bus running between Eastern Madera County and Fresno, due to lack of use by the public and a desire to better direct the funds for public transportation that fits commuters’ needs.
Starting from the Fresno Airport (FAT), YARTS continues to Amtrak/Greyhound, then stops in North Fresno at Howard. Heading north toward Yosemite, YARTS is currently scheduled to make the following stops:
- Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino
- Coarsegold on Highway 41 in front of the Coarsegold Market
- Oakhurst Best Western
- The Pines Resort at Bass Lake
- Tenaya Lodge
- Big Trees Lodge (Wawona Hotel)
- Wawona Store
- Half Dome Village (Curry Village)
- The Majestic Hotel at Yosemite (Ahwahnee Hotel)
- Visitor’s Center
- Yosemite Valley Lodge (Yosemite Lodge)
See the complete current schedule at the end of this article or click here.
This year, YARTS also offers a new online ticket reservation system that has been open and taking reservations since October 2016. YARTS currently has sales from nearly all of the 50 states in the U.S. and from more than 60 different countries.
Dick Whittington, YARTS Transit Manager with the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG), says the momentum with ticket reservations and numbers, including Bass Lake, indicate it is going to be an excellent year for YARTS travelers.
“The service started pretty soft, then all of a sudden it really took off on Highway 41 and just kept coming. In July 2015, the Highway 41 buses carried 1,700 passengers, in 2016 we doubled that.”
Another change for YARTS this year is an improvement in technology when it comes to buying tickets with electronic payment while on the bus.
“We sell tickets on the bus using credit and debit cards, and we went to a different provider for that service. Previously we had problems with Midpines and El Portal, and now the difference in technology has eliminated almost all the dark spots, except for the river canyon where nobody has any connectivity.”
Whittington explains that there’s a convenient fare structure that enables travelers to fly into Fresno, get on a bus and go to Yosemite. And now, people can go to Oakhurst or Bass Lake, get a transfer, check into hotel and then later get on the bus and go into Yosemite.
These days, it’s all about connectivity and having transit agencies connect with one another for the convenience of the traveling customer, says Whittington.
YARTS is an Amtrak through-way provider and a Greyhound interline provider, he says. People from outside the area can buy an Amtrak ticket to Coarsegold, Oakhurst, Fish Camp, Yosemite and anywhere YARTS goes. If you live in Oakhurst you can go online and get an Amtrak ticket from Oakhurst to Portland, for instance, and your ticket will include a ride on the bus to Fresno, where you then get on the train to your ultimate destination.
All YARTS buses are wheelchair accessible. However, this is on a per-ride basis and is dependent upon seating locations on the bus. Please contact YARTS 48 hours prior to your boarding, and we’ll help make sure your ride is accessible.
Service animals are allowed on all YARTS buses. There is also a storage area for bicycles.