YARTS, the bus system linking Merced with Yosemite, is now offering service from Sonora.
The seasonal service starts on Thursday and runs through Sept. 15.
I’ve always wondered how well YARTS works, logistically. Anyone tried it?
Based on the YARTS website, it looks like you could catch a bus about 8 a.m. in Sonora and be on the Valley floor (Yosemite, that is) by about 10:40 a.m.
You’d have a little more than six hours before the trip home, with buses loading at 5:10 p.m. Back in Sonora by 8 p.m.
Long day? Yup. And you’ve got to leave the park a little earlier than you might like. (There’s a little more flexibility during the busiest time of year, from mid-June through mid-August.)
Now, let’s do a little cost-benefit. Where’s Jeff Michael when I need him?
YARTS round-trip from Sonora costs $25 for adults, $18 for seniors/children. My gross-polluting RAV4 gets about 23 miles to the gallon. Assuming the cheapest current gas available in Stockton, $3.78/gallon, it’d cost me about $23 to drive the 142 miles from Sonora to Yosemite and back, not including wear-and-tear.
So, if you’re going up there solo, the cost of driving vs. taking the bus might be a wash. If you’ve got a carload of friends or family members, it’ll cost a lot more to take YARTS.
But there may be less tangible benefits to the bus (perhaps Michael could quantify them). As the marketing folks up there like to say: “Watch the scenery, not the road.”