Back in April, the Asheville Regional Transit Coalition sent a letter to the Asheville City Council asking them to improve the Asheville bus service by increasing transit funding by $5 million over the next five years. We are thrilled to report they have approved a substantial budget expansion for the next fiscal year! Roughly $9 million was dedicated to transit funding, a $2 million increase. Just Economics, a local nonprofit advocating for improved transit, was pleased by the decision. “We’re happy that City Council understands the needs of transit riders, and is responsive by including additional funds in the budget for transit.”
What changes can transit riders expect as a result of the budget increase? According to City Council member Julie Mayfield, the additional transit funding “continues service expansions implemented earlier this year; includes new service expansions, including eight additional weekday hours and Sunday service on all routes; supports a new and better management contract structure; and makes up for a significant loss in federal funding.” These improvements will go a long way toward accomplishing our stated goal of creating a transit system that operates in more areas for longer hours, seven days a week and at higher frequencies.
Although this budget increase is an important development, our work is not done. More improvements are needed to create a transit system that meets the needs of all community members. We therefore continue our call for City Council to increase transit funding by $5 million over 2017 levels in the next 5 years. With $2 million in additional funding already approved for the next fiscal year, we are almost halfway to our goal! If you want to make Asheville a more sustainable and equitable community, please click here and join us as we seek additional transit funding moving forward.
We just sent Asheville City Council a letter calling for them to take definitive steps right now to put Asheville’s Transit system on the path to service that operates in more areas for longer hours, seven days a week and at higher frequencies.
Click here and join us in asking Council to develop a plan to grow the city’s transit operating budget by $5 million in the next 5 years.
The way we do the math, 5 by 5 = Transit4all!
Dear Mayor Manheimer and City Council Members,
The Asheville Regional Transit Coalition (ARTC) 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.
These priorities aren’t new. They were all included as recommendations in the City’s 2009 Transit Master Plan, yet there is still not a clear implementation plan or dedicated funding stream to achieve transit service all day, every day and more often.
We very much appreciate Council’s apparent commitment to an additional $630,000 in the FY2018 budget to expand Sunday and weekday service. That is an excellent first step, but it is only the first of many that need to happen.
The Asheville Regional Transit Coalition calls on City Council and city staff to develop a plan to grow the city’s transit operating budget by $5 million over 2017 levels in the next five years to create the transit system our city needs and our residents deserve.
This conservative estimate would bring the operating budget from $7 million to $12 million a year in 2022. A total operating budget of $12 million is still lower than the $15 million budget that the 2009 Transit Master Plan (see Exhibit 6-8) projected we would need by 2020.
We believe that now is the time for you to set a definitive vision and plan for transit, while the process is underway to determine how the City’s new property tax revenues will be spent and the Transit Master Plan is being updated . A city property tax increase of just one cent per $100 property valuation could yield approximately $1 million in the first year. The Asheville Regional Transit Coalition is not advocating for a particular source of funding, but we do see property revaluation as a timely opportunity.
What is important is that setting a clear funding commitment to implement the Transit Master Plan update now, at the beginning of the process, ensures the end result will best serve all who depend on or choose public transit. Setting a funding level precedent now also provides more clarity for those firms responding to the City’s Transit Master http://www.transit4all.com Plan RFP, so they are able to better plan for a system that has funding levels committed to by Council.
Don’t leave the future of Asheville’s transit system up to chance. You have the opportunity now to set us on a path for increasing the transit budget by $5 million in the next five years. In five years, do you want to see a transit system that is best serving Asheville residents and visitors or is failing people on a daily basis and falling further behind peer cities’ transit systems in the Southeast? Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Instead, join us in moving Asheville to transit service all day, every day, more often, for the good of all in our community.
Children First/Communities in Schools
Hi Wire Brewing
Asheville Rosetta’s Kitchen
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
The Asheville Regional Transit Coalition is excited to build on years of work by local transit activists and other community leaders to call for much-needed improvements to Asheville area transit services. While there’s been more attention lately on local transit issues in conjunction with Transit Week , many have worked for years to improve services and provide more transportation options for all who depend on or choose to ride the bus. We believe that the City has a great opportunity now to make investments in transit service ensuring it operates in more areas for longer hours, seven days a week and at higher frequencies. Doing so will open up opportunities for those who depend on transit for work, school, and running errands and make choosing public transportation easier.
We’re excited to be kicking off this campaign, and we can’t do it alone. Join us by lending your support today, and call on City Council to put resources toward transit service improvements in this year’s budget. Get connected with us on Facebook, and share your story by emailing a short video to firstname.lastname@example.org!