This morning over at Ashvegas, another rider of the local transit system lamented the lack of information and the missing frequency.
After my post last week regarding the absent weather shelters or even sidewalks, I emailed the photos to several commissioners (I live on the other side of the city boundary, but I included Brownie Newman due to this being one of his major issues), which were forwarded to city staffers. The response from the elected officials was sympathetic, and the city staffers bemoaned the lack of funding or cited future plans for improvements. The problem I have with the funding issue is the chicken and the egg; if the service sucks then there will not be ridership which means the system cannot become closer to self sufficiency. Therefore, the investment has to take place, but the investment does not have to be purely public. Not that I wish to see anymore ads, but business sponsorship should be solicited. Businesses could pay for space on the bus stop shelters, benches, schedules, bus exteriors and interiors. I guess I should be writing Representative Shuler, Senator Burr, and Senator Elect Hagan to see if our local government can get some bacon from the big banker bailout.
Below are the responses from those who bothered to respond to my email decrying the state of South Asheville transit infrastructure.
Kathy Hughes, county clerk, responded first:
I have forwarded your concern to our contacts with Asheville Transit who are in process of assessing the whole transit system. Thanks so much for taking the time to send in your concerns. These stops definitely
need shelters, your pictures are very convincing!
From David Gantt, chariman-elect (via Gary Jackson, city manager)
Thanks for taking time to write me about our local transportation situation. You are right about the need to encourage folks to reduce fossil fuels by using public transportation. I was embarrassed by the photos. Surely, local government can do better than this. I will pass this along to the County and City managers, who I believe will respond favorably. We have to make it easy to use public transportation if we expect any changes in usage. Thank you for writing.
From Gary Jackson, city manager:
Thank you for bringing this location to our attention. As you may have noticed, in recent years there have been many bus shelters and other improvements installed along our city bus routes. The improvements are installed with the help of volunteers upon easements being granted by the NC department of Transportaion. I’m asking our Transit Manager Mariate Echeverry to review the location and determine when and how the identified location may be incorporated into the improvement schedule.
Thanks for your commitment to reducing dependence on fossil fuel.
From Brownie Newman, City Council:
Thanks for taking time to write. I agree with you. We have made a lot of progress over the past couple of years getting a lot more bus shelters and benches put up around the city, but there is so much more that needs to be done.
I agree with you that now is a good time for us to focus on infrastructure improvements as a way to improve quality of life, support economic development and create much needed jobs at the same time.
I will work to expand creation of bus shelters, sidewalks and other basic infrastructure a higher priority.
From Mariate Echeverry, interim transit manager (via Gary Jackson, city manager)
I will attend the meeting on Friday.
Route 6 goes to the Airport, mostly through Hendersonville Road. We have finished the inventory on this route, and [eemilla] is right, there is only one shelter that I remember now, at the Vanderbilt Park
intersection. There are some benches closer to downtown. We have proposed nine shelters along that route, this number will vary according to the on-site conditions (right of way, utilities, sidewalk,
etc). Funding is also a constraint. We have also identified 29 possible locations for benches, and
installation will require the on-site verification. In this case we have some benches in storage, and we could install first high priority locations.
The criteria to determine if the stop requires a bench, shelter or single stop is based mainly on ridership and on-site conditions. Some of the stops will be relocated, including the ones she is concerned
about. We want to provide a safe and comfortable environment to the riders, and at least the stop must be in a clean and safe place. And if it is useful, we will be installing a shelter at Mills Gap Road
in the next weeks. We are using CDBG funds for this one.
Please let me know if you have any questions or require additional information.