Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Airport Vans and Amtrak Bus

This year Friends General Conference will provide our own volunteer-operated service to get you to and from the Gathering, due to the lack of professional service in the area. This means that we will not have the flexibility a professional service can provide.
Gathering Van and Bus seats are only available with advance reservations. All reservations are due by June 15, but we do not guarantee there will still be convenient seats available on June 15.

Airport Vans (limited times)

We will be using the Asheville, NC airport, 75-90 minutes from Western Carolina University (WCU).

Airport Van Price

Adult and High School : $31.00 per person each way ($62.00 round trip)
Junior Gathering Participants : $20 per person each way ($40 round trip)

Airport Arrivals

We will only provide rides during the times listed below. We will schedule 5 trips based on when most people are arriving between these times. Once we set the times, seats on each vehicle will be assigned based on when you purchased your van seat, first-come, first-serve until seats are full. (Early registration reservations will be part of the lottery, so all April 1-12 reservations will have an equal chance of getting the van trip you want.) You will be notified of the time of your airport van on June 20. The sooner you reserve a van seat, the more likely you are to get a ride most convenient to your flight. We plan to have airport waits no longer than two hours, but once a vehicle fills, you might have to wait much longer.

The Gathering Van from the Asheville airport will run during the following times:

Friday July 3: 4:00pm-11:30 pm (serving planes arriving by 11:00 pm)
Saturday July 4 : 1:30pm-9:30 pm (serving planes arriving by 9:00 pm)
Sunday July 5: 11:00 am-9:30 pm (serving planes arriving by 9:00 pm or departing after 1:00 pm)

Airport Departures, July 5 and 11 only

Departure Van reservations are due by June 15. We will NOT be able to accept reservations during the Gathering.

Friends departing after a pre-Gathering event may book a seat on a July 5 van, for flights departing after 1:00 pm.

Allow at least 90 minutes to get to the airport. We will be adjusting times and who goes on which van in order to get you to the airport in the most cost-effective manner, so you might need to leave campus earlier than you wish. We cannot promise a seat at a specific time. You will receive your actual departure time on June 20.

On July 11, we will NOT be able to get you to the airport for flights before 7:00 a.m.

Anticipated July 11 departure times from campus (subject to change) will be:

4:15 AM for flights leaving 7 am and later
7:45 AM for flights leaving 10:30 am and later
11:30 AM for flights leaving 2:15 pm and later
1:15 PM for flights leaving 4 pm and later

Note that closing worship is from 9 to 10am, and lunch is served from 11am to 1 pm.  Box lunches will be available when requested in a timely fashion.

Airport Van Reservations

Reserve your ride from or to the Asheville airport when you register for the Gathering. If you do not yet know your scheduled arrival and departure times, you can return to your online reservation or add an airport van reservation by e-mail until June 15. All airport van reservations (both arrival and departure) are due by June 15.

To reserve a van seat you need to know:

  • The date and scheduled time of arrival (or departure).
  • Where you are coming from (or going to).
  • Names of everyone traveling with you.

Gathering Bus for Greensboro Train

Start your Gathering experience early! Get to know others traveling to the Gathering by train, meet area Friends, and enjoy a comfortable bus ride among Friends.

Friends are encouraged to take Amtrak to the Gathering. FGC will provide an air-conditioned coach from Greensboro to Cullowhee on July 4, and a return trip on July 11.  Buy your train ticket early to guarantee the best prices.  Read more about the Gathering Discount on Amtrak.

Greensboro-Gathering Bus Price

One way reservations are accepted.

Adult and High School : $39 per seat each way ($78.00 round trip)
Junior Gathering Participants : $20 per seat each way ($40 round trip)

Train Arrival in Greensboro July 4

The bus to the Gathering will meet the Carolinian train on July 4, current ETA 6:30 pm.  The train is often an hour late, and the bus trip will take about 3 ½ hours to reach Cullowhee.  If you must arrive on the Crescent train (in the wee hours of the morning on July 4 -- ETA 12:15 am), we will arrange for overnight hospitality and you agree to take a taxi from the Amtrak station to your host’s home. Your host will then deliver you to the Gathering bus at the Amtrak station on the evening of July 4.

When you reserve your seat, you will pre-order a  dinner:  a burrito, burrito bowl, "burrito" salad, or tacos.  This dinner will be delivered directly to the bus.  University Staff will be ready to get you into your Gathering housing as quickly as possible when you arrive on campus.  You may complete Gathering Check-In on Sunday afternoon July 5.

Friends arriving by train will need to register for Saturday night housing at the Gathering. You have the option of pre-purchasing Sunday breakfast and/or lunch in the dining room. The Gathering meal plan will not begin until Sunday evening.

FGC is NOT able to provide transportation for train arrivals on Friday July 3 or Sunday July 5.

Train Departure from Greensboro July 11

The bus will depart from Cullowhee 1:30 pm on Saturday July 11, after lunch on campus. The bus will
deliver travelers to a meetinghouse in Greensboro between 5:00 and 5:30 pm.

Travelling to the Northeast.  Friends will be offered home hospitality, dinner and a simple breakfast, and will be delivered to the station to meet the July 12 northbound Carolinian departing at 8:39am.

Travelling south to Atlanta or beyond (scheduled train departure 12:15 am). Friends will be hosted at a home or meetinghouse, provided dinner, and then delivered to meet the 12:22 am Southbound Crescent just after midnight on July 12.

Travelling to the Midwest and beyond. Those travelling to the Midwest will be offered dinner and home hospitality, and then arrange for a taxi to deliver them to the northbound Crescent at 3:44 am on July 12.

Greensboro-Gathering Amtrak Bus Reservations

Reserve your Greensboro-Gathering Bus seat from and to Greensboro when you register for the Gathering. We will only have one bus each way. If you do not yet know your scheduled arrival and departure times, you can return to your online reservation or add a reservation by e-mail until June 15. All train passage reservations are due by June 15, but the bus might fill before then.

To reserve a seat you need to know:

  • The date and scheduled time of arrival (or departure).
  • Where you are coming from (or going to).
  • Names of everyone traveling with you.

The Bus Needs the Support of North Carolinians

Renting this bus and organizing the shuttle for Friends travelling by train demonstrates FGC's commitment to supporting green travel to the Gathering.  It is also financially risky.  Friends living in eastern North Carolina can help support this effort by

  • Sign up for the bus waiting list (a commitment is not required until you are contacted after June 1).  Seats will be saved for train riders until May 31.
  • Greensboro residents may volunteer to be hosts

Why Aren't There More Buses Serving Train Riders?

The only way the shuttle to the train is affordable is to rent a one large charter bus.  The typical volume of train riders to the Gathering is not high enough to justify the cost of renting multiple smaller vans, especially given the distance to Cullowhee.

Gathering attenders who need to arrive at a different time than late Saturday evening, and would like to take the train, are welcome to use our carpool list to try to set up a connection with a Gathering-bound driver at a station somewhere along your route. Sign up for the carpool list when you register.

Why Is the Bus Serving the Greensboro Amtrak Station?

Yes, there are Amtrak stations closer to Cullowhee.  But fewer trains serve those stations.  The Transportation Subcommittee studied all options and made careful decisions about the best way to support Friends who want to ride the train to the Gathering. 

Learning about the Departure Time of Your Van/Bus

All Friends with reservations will receive an email by June 20 with the time of their assigned van/bus(es)

Child Car Seat Laws in North Carolina

You will need to provide your own car seats for young children using the Gathering vans.

Follow these guidelines when obtaining a car seat for your child:

  • Children under 40 lbs: Federally approved rear-facing child car seat.
  • 4 to 8 years old: Use a booster seat until your child reaches the 4'9"height and 80 lb. weight maximum.
  • North Carolina law requires children age 12 and under to be in the back seat.