The City is currently in the midst of planning for next year’s budget. This process provides some important opportunities to put Asheville on track for transit that operates in more areas, for longer hours, seven days a week. Read the letter we just sent City Council asking for dedicated funding in service of those goals and raising some important concerns related to those goals, and send your own message to City Council at AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov
Dear Mayor Manheimer and City Council Members,
ARTC (Asheville Regional Transit Coalition) believes transit service that operates in more areas for longer hours, seven days a week and at higher frequencies, will greatly benefit local residents and businesses and lead to a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable community. As you prepare for next year’s City budget, we respectfully request the following: 1. An accurate analysis of current capital needs to maintain existing bus service with funding recommendations for Fiscal Year 2018. 2. Dedicated funding for both capital and operating expenses that set the City on a path to meet the bus service goals of “all day, everyday, more often” over the next three years.. 3. An “on the record” discussion for how the City will raise and sustain the revenue for item #2. Below are additional concerns related to our three requests:
- We’ve recently learned that our bus reserves decreased from six to three in the last year and that order fulfillment for new buses takes 18 months to two years. This is one reason an accurate analysis of our current capital is needed immediately.The City should quickly approve new bus purchases just to maintain our existing service commitments and then chart a course for our needs as we expand.
- We recognize that there are unmet needs across all modes of transportation infrastructure and delivery in Asheville. We remain optimistic that the transportation bond will help address some of the capital project backlog. Now is the time to be visionary for public transit – in fact, our goals around frequency and service hours represent deferred opportunities from the last Transit Master Plan completed in 2009. We also believe that incremental gains can make a big difference for riders as seen in the enthusiasm of adding partial Sunday service and extending some hours. We encourage you to seize those next incremental opportunities on the way to bold three year goals.
- As the City reviews its revenue stream after the latest property revaluation, you face important decisions on taxation. Additionally, federal funding streams are uncertain under a Trump administration. We want to hear you discuss options for raising and sustaining revenue for transit to meet our goals. Will you use some of the additional funds available via revaluation? Do you support a future dedicated tax referendum on the ballot? Are there fee increases you believe play a role? We ask for a transparent and accountable conversation during the budget process that will let us know your priorities for transit and how you plan to fund it.
The upcoming Transit Master Plan process will be another opportunity to dig deeper into specifics, but we believe now is the time to embrace the vision of all day service, on all routes, with higher frequency. We look forward to kicking off this work in the current budget process and working together to achieve great results in three years.
First/Communities in Schools