Fayetteville bus fares will not be going up in the next fiscal year. City council denied a request by the Fayetteville Area System of Transit and its citizen advisory committee, which recommended across-the-board increases for all fare schedules. Transit Director Randy Hume had proposed a single trip fare increase from $1.25 to $1.50. The popular day pass would have gone up from $3 to $4. Mayor Mitch Colvin noted the increases would have resulted in local fares being higher than other cities.
Hume said the fare increases would have generated $133,000, which the advisory committee indicated would have been applied to pay raises for bus operators. Officials said new bus operators earn $13 an hour. After six months, the hourly rate goes to $13.75. Hume told council that employee turnover, especially among bus drivers, is about 15 percent.
Council members Jim Arp and Tisha Waddell said FAST should find creative ways to market the transit system to increase ridership. “We need to get on the bus,” Waddell said. She said an “active and aggressive marketing campaign” is needed to encourage more people to ride the bus.
Councilwoman Kathy Jensen said her experience was that modern FAST buses are clean and safe. Several members pointed to the recent opening of the downtown transit center as a point of pride for the community.
Finding the new District 2 council member
City council heard from the nine citizens who would like to succeed Tyrone Williams as the District 2 council member. Williams resigned after being accused of attempted bribery in a local
downtown business venture. Council asked the candidates to make five-minute presentations during a May 29 televised council meeting. Candidates appeared in alphabetical order.
Former Fayetteville Police attorney Patricia Bradley told how she was raised in a poor neighborhood but won scholarships and grants and put herself through law school. “I am a fierce advocate
for under-resourced communities” she said. Bradley lives in Haymount, having practiced law for 23 years. A portion of Haymount is in District 2, which stretches from Cain Road near Eutaw Village through downtown to east Fayetteville.
Business owner Len Brown said he’s lived in the district since 1952. “I know District 2,” he said. He added that the community needs a full-time representative and claimed he could create more jobs than any of the candidates.
Vernell Cruz is an advocate for the disabled and said she has lived in Fayetteville only 6 years or so. She told council she didn’t expect to be appointed but appreciated the opportunity to appear.
Dan Culletin also lives in Haymount and is a known political entity in the district. He ran for the council seat in November and came in second. He applauded council for the way it handled the Williams situation. “Citizen engagement is the cornerstone of democracy,” he told council. He noted he is the only person running for the post who has already curried favor of District 2 residents.
Mary “Bunny” English lives on Hillsboro Street near downtown. She said she is a former broadcaster and a lifelong resident of Fayetteville.
William Gothard is a retired Army officer who manages a program at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He, too, is a Haymount resident and has served on the city’s Historic Resources Commission and Zoning Commission.
Phillip McCorquodale is vice president of operations for Phillips Towing Service and a former chairman of the Cumberland County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
George Mitchell is an Army veteran who is licensed in real estate and insurance.
Sharon Moyer is the community engagement manager for Partnership for Children and is a former executive director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.
Real estate broker George Turner has also volunteered and has served on various city and county awards.