Carrboro kicked off Public Transportation Week on Monday.
From Sept. 22-28, residents are encouraged to learn more about the available transit routes and use the bus in a way they haven’t before.
Barriers to using public transportation often involve not knowing how to use the bus and where to access transit schedules, said Bethany Chaney, Carrboro Board of Aldermen member. Public Transportation Week is designed to change that by educating residents about public transportation in Carrboro and beyond.
“For some people, it just feels like it’s just a chore to find out how do I get from A to B to C in town,” Chaney said. “I wish more people knew that it was easier, specifically by downloading the NextBus app.”
Chaney said she urges Carrboro residents to use transit for the first time this week if they haven’t already. For riders who use the bus to commute to work, she said she hopes this week will be an opportunity for them to explore routes to downtown Carrboro or Chapel Hill.
However, Public Transportation Week is also an opportunity to examine areas of improvement that are desperately needed in Carrboro, including expanding the Chapel Hill Transit bus service and looking to alternate providers as well.
“Carrboro would love to see more service in more places, particularly in the northern neighborhoods of Carrboro, where, you know, most of those folks have to drive to get anywhere else in Carrboro or to Chapel Hill because there’s just not easy bus service,” Chaney said.
Chaney said Carrboro would like to see expanded service on existing lines, specifically the CW and J routes. Both lines have service during the weekdays and Saturday, but the expansion of Sunday bus service should be a priority, she said.
The defeat of the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project was a significant setback to public transportation in Carrboro, said Diana McDuffee, member of the Carrboro Transportation Advisory Board and former member of the Board of Aldermen.
“I think if we’d had light rail in the plan, we would’ve been looking at a very dependable, frequent, fixed-route system that would have helped make it easier to get along without a car between Durham and Chapel Hill,” McDuffee said.
Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle noted three areas of improvement for Carrboro public transportation. She said she hopes to see Bus Rapid Transit along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and an expansion of GoTriangle service to northern Carrboro to connect neighborhoods near Eubanks Road to Duke University and Durham.
Beyond expanding service, Lavelle said she would like to evaluate how Chapel Hill Transit’s new electric buses are faring in the system, considering both cost and greenhouse gas emissions. While the electric buses may be a little pricier, she said, the environmental impact is critical.
Lavelle said she hopes Public Transportation Week will be an opportunity for Carrboro residents to experience a shift in their mindsets as well. When taking the bus, walking or biking in Carrboro, she said she finds it “dramatically freeing” to be less dependent on her car.
“What I really like about riding the bus too is that you just meet so many different people,” Lavelle said. “It’s like all walks of life are on the bus, and you see people getting on and off — you pay attention to things in a different way than you do when you’re driving.”
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