What is the Asheville Regional Transit Coalition (ARTC)?
ARTC was created in Spring 2017 and is made up of long time local transit advocates, planners, representatives of the Asheville Transit and Multimodal committee and others. We believe 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. To read more about the coalition visit https://transit4all.com/about
The steering committee, which consists of representatives of the advocacy groups, meets every two weeks, and ARTC endorsers are welcome to join those meetings. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
What is the problem we’re trying to solve?
Asheville area transit service lags behind the needs of our communities. Some areas of our community aren’t served by bus service, several routes end service at 6pm, we have only 60-minute service on most routes with 30-minutes service on five major routes, and only about half our our routes have service on Sunday.
These deficiencies mean less opportunities for those who depend on transit to get to work, school, childcare, healthcare, and doing daily business like shopping and laundry. For those who would prefer to use transit to reduce costs or carbon footprint, owning and driving a car is simply an easier, more attractive choice.
Don’t take our word for it, check out what your commute would look like via public transportation at www.ashevillenc.gov/departments/transit/maps_schedules.html
What are ARTC’s current priorities?
We are currently focusing on Asheville City Council to create a dedicated funding stream for improving transit service and to define an implementation plan that will get us to transit all day, every day, in more areas, more frequently. Specifically we’re asking to expand the current transit budget by $5 million over 2017 levels in the next five years. 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 projected we would need by 2020.
The City is currently updating the Transit Master Plan, which should detail how much it will cost to expand service within the City and out to the County. Once we have that information, we plan to expand our focus to include the County. www.transit4all.com
Does funding transit compete with other priorities, like greenways or affordable housing?
The short answer is no, for several reasons. -We’re asking for City Council to add money to the annual budget, specifically for transit; not reallocate funding from the general fund.
- Infrastructure improvements like housing, greenways, sidewalks and parks are much easier to fund. These capital investments are easier to fund through multiple grants and other sources than the type of ongoing, annual, operational funding needed to improve transit.
- The Asheville Bonds secured $32 million for transportation infrastructure improvements like road repairs, sidewalks, greenways, bus shelters, and pedestrian crossings; but none of those funds will go, or were eligible to go, to transit operational expenses.
So, where would the $5 million in 5 years come from?
From the research that’s been done on dedicated funding streams for transit, we know of at least three options that City Council could use to raise the level of funding needed, year after year: Dedicated portions of property, sales and/or food and beverage tax. The latter two would require legislative approval, but Council has the opportunity now, as part of current property tax revaluation, to set us on the path to a dedicated funding stream from property tax for transit. A mere 1 cent increase in property taxes per $100 property value would yield $1 million in the first year.
We also anticipate an opportunity to get new electric buses for little or no cost through the pending Volkswagen settlement.
What would operational funding go toward?
Getting to transit service, all day, every day and more frequently will require some capital expenditures for more busses, but it will mostly require operational expenses. We’ll be paying more salaries to more drivers and support staff, fuel costs and bus maintenance. What does it mean to support the 5 by 5 campaign and ARTC? ARTC invites individuals and organizations to stand with us by adding your name to the list of endorsers and supporters at www.transit4all.com/support
All endorsements will be listed on the online supporter page and will receive periodical updates about ARTC’s progress. An endorsement does not obligate you or your organization to anything, though we will share ways that you can choose to support the campaign by participating in a day of action, writing a letter to decision makers, and sharing information with your networks or other actions.