Granville County members gather to call for budget expansion for KARTS


Be Smart, EXPAND KARTS Next Steps

KARTS (Kerr Area Regional Transportation Authority) is the only public transit service serving Granville County. This public transportation system serves Granville, Vance, Warren, and Franklin Counties by offering bus rides to citizens for a standard fare price within the standard KARTS counties. It can also provide rides to larger cities such as Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill outside the standard service counties for an increased fare. In addition to the on-demand service, KARTS partners with Granville Senior Services to run the “Oxford Loop” transit service, a regularly scheduled bus that travels around Oxford. 


While KARTS can provide a vital service for its users, rides must be scheduled many days in advance, pickup and drop-off wait times are long, and return rides can often leave passengers stranded in faraway locations for long periods. This makes the service difficult to use and rely on practically and has degraded public trust in the benefits of public transportation. 


Down Home’s Granville Chapter asked Granville County to contribute more local funds to the operating budget for KARTS through its Expand KARTS campaign. This would have made it easier for KARTS to hire and retain drivers and make the program more accessible and usable for Granville residents. It would also allow for shorter wait times, more frequent and reliable trips, and a public transit system with more flexibility for Granville residents when traveling around the county. Not to mention more trust in local government services by all of our neighbors.


Winning a public service for Granville County would not only provide working class and poor people with significantly more practical and affordable transportation options. They coud use it to get to work, recreation, or healthcare appointments, and residents of all incomes would have an environmentally friendly way to move around our county, keeping our air, water, land, and ourselves healthy and thriving.


We asked the Granville County Commissioners to increase its local funding to KARTS by $250,000 in 2024–2025. In the end, they denied it under the pretense that they did not have any responsibility to ensure that KARTS can serve those who rely on public transportation for their jobs, medical appointments, and other essential outings. 


The Granville Commissioners were initially broadly supportive to our proposal on first contact — at least the Commissioners who responded to messages from our campaign were. Other Commissioners could not meet, and others did not respond at all. In initial conversations, however, Commissioners nearly all agreed that KARTS was vital and needed more funding in private meetings. This tone radically changed once we came to public County meetings to advocate for the funding. 


From there, Granville County Commission repeatedly told our members that they would only take steps to improve the service if the steps were matched by other Counties in the region. They even suggested that Granville residents attend all four KARTS’ county budget meetings (even counties they don’t live in) to advocate for these changes. This was frustrating to hear since this is the exact purpose of the KARTS board. As of writing this, neither KARTS nor Granville County still publicly posts when or where its board meetings are held and who is on the board. 


Upon learning the results of the failed campaign ask, Expand KARTS committee member Alexandra Fox expressed her frustration,  “I feel like we were dismissed immediately, at least by most council members. Before our very first public comment was even done, one council member was openly scoffing at the Down Homie at the podium.”


In subsequent meetings, some council members tried to lecture us on how KARTS worked, talked down to members and assumed what we didn’t know. Multiple commissioners treated Down Home Granville members as if they did not understand that KARTS was a four-county service. However the fact was acknowledged in the one-page proposal they directly handed to them —  and their first public comment.


“I understand that budgets are tight,” said Fox.  “Everyone can, just go to the grocery store. And this was a tense year for the council because they made the difficult decision to raise taxes. But the way one council member blamed riders for the poor service, and many council members openly shamed us for coming to our representatives highlighting a community need, that’s really disappointing.”

So, what’s next for the Down Home Granville Chapter members? The next KARTS board meeting is on July 9th. The annual budget may be set, but Granville Commissioner Zelodis Jay is also the chair of the KARTS Board of Directors. Down Home Granville members will be present to introduce ourselves and make comments. We will make sure he knows we are not backing down from this issue!