CJJ Statement on Expanding Public Transportation (Asheville)

Asheville,

The City Council will be voting on the budget on June 11. CJJ strongly supports a move to expand the public transportation service and an increase of the wages of city workers. Please contact the Council and the City Manager to encourage these changes.

More information on contacting the Council can be found here, and all members can be emailed at AshevilleNCCouncil@ashevillenc.gov. Additionally, information on contacting the City Manager can be found here. See the letter below for talking points and a general template.

Originally published May 28, 2019

Dear [Asheville] City Council and City Manager:

Carolina Jews for Justice (CJJ) is a statewide grassroots network with a local chapter in the West committed to creating a just, fair and compassionate North Carolina through education and advocacy. CJJ applauds your leadership in prioritizing transit in the 2019-2020 proposed budget. We also thank you for prioritizing all students succeeding at Asheville City Schools.

CJJ is asking you to enact the priorities of student success and accessible transit by:

• Extending public transportation service hours until at least 10pm Monday-Saturday and at least 8pm on Sundays. There are 11 public transit bus routes, of the 18 routes, that have their last trip departing between 5:30 and 8:30pm. That means that students or parents who depend on public transportation to return home from academic, athletic, extracurricular, and civic opportunities are often denied access to these opportunities because they don’t have a way to get home. On Saturday nights there are 10 out of 18 routes that stop running after 8:30pm.

• Increasing wages so that all City of Asheville employees make $15/hour. The City of Asheville is one of the top 5 employers in the city; top 7 in the county. We know that poverty can negatively impact student success. Your leadership in increasing the wage floor provides more security for those who work for you and also sets a model for the other major employers in our region. We were pleased to learn from Commissioner Whitesides that Buncombe County has already shown leadership to ensure that any county employee still making under $15/hour will receive a pay increase in the next budget cycle. We hope the city will follow the county's lead on this issue.

These two requests total $3.7 million out of the $190 million spent by the City. We urge you to allocate the funds necessary so that Asheville students, families, and workers having more equitable access to opportunities.

Judy Leavitt

Board President, CJJ West Co-Chair