During a normal semester, rising junior Antonio Mendoza enjoys his weekly U bus rides as part of his grocery shopping commute.
One of the free standard routes operated by Chapel Hill Transit, the U bus covers areas from South Campus, where many first-years live, to downtown.
Mendoza, a frequent rider, said that the buses make travel convenient without a car.
“If I ever need to go outside of campus to get somewhere, and I don't have a car, having a couple of bus routes that takes you straight to a grocery store is pretty beneficial,” he said.
Past midnight during the academic year, UNC also operates free routes like the P2P shuttles and expresses which run between residence halls and Franklin Street.
After late night studying or a movie night with friends, Mendoza said he finds it safe and comforting to have a bus ride back to his dorm, with the company of the driver and passengers.
“I was taking the P2P bus at 2:00 in the morning, and me and the driver just had the deepest, most authentic conversation on purposes in life,” he said.
During the summer, public transit operates on a different capacity and schedule, including EZ Rider, the Town's paratransit service.
Through July 31, the P2P service operates from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. based on requests scheduled via the TransLoc Rider App or by calling the P2P Dispatch at 919-962-7867.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chapel Hill Transit is running nine weekday routes — CW, CM, D, G, J, NS, RU, S and U — till 8 p.m, while Go Triangle offers six trips of the 420 route between the Town and Hillsborough.
CHT has implemented safety measures including increased sanitization, rear-door boarding, driver-passenger barriers and ten-people capacity for regular vehicles.
Passengers are also required to wear face coverings until Aug. 31, according to Orange County's Emergency Declaration guidelines, and are strongly encouraged to remain 6 feet apart from one another.
Transit Director Brian Litchfield said service reintroduction is based on considerations like public health guidance and UNC’s plan.
“Our reopening has the sole priority on safety,” he said. “It’s also going to be closely entwined with what the University does. We're slowly starting to reopen service as the University is slowly starting to reopen campus.”
Chapel Hill Transit has planned possible scenarios for August with varying numbers of routes and services, which are subject to change under public health conditions and guidance.
“We don't know what it looks like just yet, but we will continue to work with our funding partners to determine what our service will look like in August, which would need to be consistent with public health official and CDC guidance,” he said.
In early August, however, it plans to start implementing service improvements like adjusted routes with less one-way loops and turns, as well as Sunday service, which was last offered 40 years ago.
Nick Pittman, transit planning manager, said in a news release that the improvements are based on public demand.
“These improvements will simplify routing for several of our more complicated routes, add additional service on some routes that experience high demand and new weekend service on Saturday and Sunday,” Pittman said.
Litchfield encouraged students and parents to visit Chapel Hill Transit’s website for updated information and install the TransLoc Rider App on their phones to track the buses.
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