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Friday March 24th

Chapel Hill Transit differs from other university transit systems

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For some schools, this is the case, but for Chapel Hill Transit things are much different.

Since the transit system covers a combination of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and the University, ridership doesn’t drastically change from when school is in session to the summer.

Brian Litchfield, director of Chapel Hill Transit, said the odds of getting a seat on the bus during the summer are better but riders are fairly consistent year-round.

“There’s a good blend of students and people going to and from work,” Litchfield said. “We don’t see swings significant enough to reduce or change our core or basic services.”

According to Litchfield, the transit system will go from 27,000 rides a day when school is session to 22,000 rides a day during the summer, rounding out to about 6.9 million trips a year.

While the town does share in the payment for the transit system, the University is solely responsible for specific lines and routes — most notably the U, RU and NU.

Based on the fiscal year fall 2014, Litchfield said the University pays $75 per service hour for their direct billed cost.

For N.C. State University, the Wolfline bus system sees a much more drastic decrease in ridership over the summer since the bus line is solely a university-based line.

Michael Wooley Ousdahl, the assistant director of planning and operations for Wolfline, said the bus does about 7,000 hours of service per month during the school year and only 2,000 hours of service per month during the summer.

According to Ousdahl, N.C. State pays only $25 per service hour.

“Over the summer (hours of service are) about 2,000, so you can get the idea of how much we’re saving,” he said.

For Duke University Transit, their system is similar to N.C. State’s — its ridership decreases tremendously in the summer because it’s a university-based transit line.

Alison Carpenter, transit planner and transportation demand manager for Duke, said transit cuts all of the university bus operations except one over the summer months.

“We have five routes during the fall or spring, but we only run one during the summer time,” Carpenter said.

“The campus route that we do run (during the summer) the ridership was about half in May compared to April.”

With other campuses having such a major decrease in service hours and ridership, this may open up funds to be allocated to other issues or problems that need addressing.

“Reducing service in the summer, based on demand, provides us greater flexibility to maximize service when productivity and need is greatest during the full academic year,” Ousdahl said.

Litchfield said CHT doesn’t save money in the summer because they don’t have large swings as some of the other university bus systems.

“We’re not necessarily saving money, but we’re planning effectively to make sure we get the service out there for the demand,” he said.



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