Letter: Banish gridlock gremlins with electric vehicle hub

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Asheville, our vibrant city nestled in a bowl of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is known for its rich culture, eclectic arts scene and (somewhat waning) breathtaking natural beauty. But let’s face it, neighbors—living in a bowl has its challenges, such as balancing the needs of an increasing population with the necessity to preserve, protect and enhance the space we occupy.

Let’s start the discussion with traffic. Our traffic situation is about as enjoyable as hitting a pothole while sipping your morning coffee. From the gridlock in our neighborhoods to the bumper-to-bumper crawl of commuter traffic, it’s clear that we need a solution — and fast — to save both our environment and our sanity.

While the City Council has made commendable efforts to address housing needs, its plans to mitigate the traffic that new housing produces remain languishing within the pages of the city’s comprehensive plan. But hark! Verily I say, there’s hope on the horizon! Remember the $45 million plan proposed in 2019 for a mixed-use commercial-residential space on the 15.88-acre Sears site of the Asheville Mall (1 S. Tunnel Road)? There sits patiently our golden opportunity to tackle our traffic woes head-on and set a precedent for the entire city.

Imagine this: Parking your car in a spacious, hassle-free parking lot of pervious concrete (with well-landscaped islands of trees and foliage), boarding a cozy electric shuttle and in minutes, you’re whisked away to any and all points throughout Asheville, east and west. No traffic, no stress — just smooth sailing on a clean, green, electric machine. Sounds like a dream, right? But it’s a dream we can turn into reality.

Here’s why this proposal is a game-changer: Electric shuttles will slash the number of cars on the road, giving you back your time and sanity. The time you now spend pushing a brake pedal is replaced by time spent with your family or recreational pursuits. The time you spend chewing the inside of your cheek is replaced with time to read the paper, review your daily plan, take a nap, etc.

Go green and breathe easy: Electric shuttles produce zero emissions, meaning cleaner air and a healthier environment. Asheville’s beautiful skies will stay blue rather than the butternut-gray of car fumes.

Easy access, no stress: Whether you’re heading downtown, to a hospital or any point throughout Asheville, shuttles get you there swiftly and comfortably. With enough shuttles dedicated to specific routes, offering both express and local options to suit your needs.

Revitalize abandoned space: Transform that sea of asphalt and concrete into a bustling hub of activity. It’s time to put that acreage to good use for the health and welfare of all.

Boost our economy: Job creation, local business stimulation and new investment opportunities — this project is a win-win-win for Asheville.

This vision will not work unless the city adopts a plan to strictly limit vehicular traffic within the city proper and seriously improve the walkability and wheelchair accessibility of the city streets. Habits die hard, and oftentimes it requires tough love in order to make an enlightened, progressive plan take root.

We stand at a crossroads, Asheville. Will we continue to let traffic woes turn our daily commutes into soul-grinding endurance tests, or will we embrace a bold new vision for our city’s future? It’s time we seize the initiative to transform our city’s transportation conundrum while enhancing the health of both the environment and of our citizenry.

And why stop at East Asheville? If this hub proves successful, we can roll out similar initiatives in West Asheville and beyond. Our city can become a shining example for congested cities everywhere. Asheville can spark a revolution in how we move around our cities—one that’s clean, efficient and downright enjoyable.

So, what do you say, Asheville? Let’s come together as a community and support our city leaders in making this vision a reality. Our beautiful city deserves nothing less. We citizens deserve nothing less.

— Jane Spence-Edwards



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11 thoughts on “Letter: Banish gridlock gremlins with electric vehicle hub

  1. T100

    How is that different from ART (it its electric busses would have been reliable)?

  2. indy499

    Uh, you skipped over the drive to this hub and the waiting for these magic carpets that are going to whisk you to allparts of the city. I’ll be driving.

  3. Dr P

    How much carbon is released to mine the metals needed to build these electric vehicles? How are these vehicles charged? The electric buses the city has are problem free right?

    • MV

      Yes, she seems to be one of a very small group of outspoken not-spineless Asheville residents who see through the pandering b.s. of performance activism perpetrated by local councils and would like more focused attention on infrastructure and protecting all residents of all colors who live in the present.

      • Peter Robbins

        I meant good for her that she supports housing, mass transit and electric buses. I didn’t see the rest of that word salad in her letter.

    • indy499

      Wow, you are easily impressed. Leaving aside whether one supports her objective, her “plan” is just downright silly.

      She starts with ” the city adopts a plan to strictly limit vehicular traffic within the city proper”. Then since you can’t drive in the city you drive to east asheville (I guess you get a waiver to drive to her fantasy hub) to be magically whisked away to your destination. If you were in W Asheville going to say the south slope I’m betting you’d think this is one of the dumbest things you’ve ever heard.

      And stop with the bad traffic nonsense. Ever been to a real city. Go visit some time.

      • Peter Robbins

        By the way, I’ve lived in cities. Real ones. Ones with real mass transit systems. Including “kiss-and-ride” features of the kind discussed here. Details can be worked out later. The first priority is to attack the notion that the commuter lifestyle is a God-given right that knows no restriction.

  4. Eli Sorrells

    Or get this, expand the already existing bus system so it’s available to more residents and increase service frequency so it’s actually competitive as opposed to driving. I don’t know why people feel the need to come up with these convoluted “solutions” when already existing and proven alternatives to driving exist

    • Peter Robbins

      I don’t know that parking islands to facilitate mass transit are at all “convoluted.” Many transit systems use them. But let’s say you’re right. How should conventional bus service be expanded? What have you been doing to get it expanded? Why have you, so far, failed? What should others be doing? This strikes me as one of those “yes, and” situations that people like to talk about these days.

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