The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday February 2nd

Chapel Hill transit could eliminate some bus routes to save funds

With a $2.3 million gap in the town’s transit system budget, some riders could be left without a way home.

At a public input meeting Tuesday night, Chapel Hill resident Nancy Phillips found out that potential changes to the F bus could force her to change her schedule, she said.

“I was taking a class from six to eight, but now I can’t. I can’t rely on the bus,” Phillips said.

Proposed adjustments to the Chapel Hill Transit schedule could eliminate trips and routes that perform below the system’s standards in passengers per hour.

The service adjustments are projected to generate savings of about $900,000, reducing the budget gap by about 40 percent.

But to realize these savings, the adjustments must take effect by August 15.

Brian Litchfield, assistant director of Chapel Hill Transit, said the system has received about 160 comments about the changes, most of them by email or phone.

“While the adjustments are an answer to a short-term budget issue, it is also a long-term view of things,” Litchfield said.

Law student Jennings Carpenter attended Tuesday’s public forum to see how he was going to be affected and said he appreciated the town’s effort to seek feedback from users.

“You can look at something on paper and realize that ‘y’ could save you ‘x’ number of dollars, but this shows how it affects people and allows them to make sure the cuts they make are well-founded,” he said.

Litchfield said the next steps for the proposed alterations include analyzing the public’s suggestions and making modifications to the changes before the final budget presentation on Monday.

Town Transit Director Steve Spade said the system plans to start charging for parking in the town’s park and ride lots in 2013. This change is estimated to generate about $250,000 per year, he said.

“This would allow us to start taxing people who don’t live in Carrboro or Chapel Hill but are coming to use our transit system,” Spade said.

With budget projections estimating that operating expenses will grow by 7 percent annually to maintain current service levels, Spade said adjustments are imperative to maintaining the sustainability of the system.

“Our partners asked us to make the system lean and mean,” he said. “We had to identify services that were not performing well, identify the services that were not required and finally start questioning how the system is operating in order to make sure we get the most out of our buck.”

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