YES! Youth Support Transportation Reform in Asheville, NC
For about five years now the Asheville team has been working alongside Just Economics to improve Asheville’s ART transit system. Many necessity riders rely on this bus system in order to get to work, pick up their children, attend appointments, buy groceries, and other practices. We have had the pleasure of seeing the Transportation Campaign develop into a life-changing movement. Through allies and support, the members of this campaign have been able to make the campaign a familiar name to City Council members. We recently participated in the campaign by helping host a few transit events.
We kicked off the first week of February with a successful event titled “The People’s Transit Week” which had a daily event surrounding advocating and building support. We were able to hear feed-back from different partners, in particular, the riders themselves. Throughout the week we were quickly able to see the magnitude and diversity of people in agreeance with the transportation reform.
The week began with community church outreach which involved tabling with information about the campaign and getting involved. On Monday, youth staff Richard attended a Town Hall meeting in which City Council members were present. He spoke about the importance of better buses and was able to give his perspective as a youth rider. Tuesday and Wednesday were occupied with a Meet & Greet and Listening Sessions which allowed for City Council members to hear personal stories and information concerning transit. All of the Asheville YES! Staff members were able to attend Thursday’s Press Conference which was stationed in the bus station itself. With a live stream in place and bus riders nearby, Xenna opened up the floor with a speech on the importance of the work being done for transit. This event allowed us to not only talk to necessity riders but to gain their insight on the importance of improving transit. Friday was a Driver Appreciation day which allowed members to thank bus drivers with a personal touch for the daily work they do.
On Saturday we wrapped up the week by posting on social media and personally emailing City Council regarding the prioritization of the transit system. In the emails we touched base on the next steps for our campaign . These include full Sunday service on all routes, extended evening hours, and the re-instatement of three critical stops. This way riders will be able to have transportation all days of the week until 10 p.m. (or until midnight for major corridors) and will once again have transportation to the stops: Bartlett Arms Apartments, Deaverview Apartments, and the Vocational Rehabilitation center.
These Next Steps for Transit are part of the 19 Point Agenda for Transportation Reform that will be prioritized in the year of 2017. Thanks to this week and all of the past work that has been done, the Transit Campaign is hoping to announce a victory win in 2017 as City Council pushes for increased funding this coming fiscal year.
Read more about the efforts in this article in Asheville’s Mountain Xpress Newspaper.