Although the Raleigh Transit Authority recently voted to recommend the Raleigh City Council reinstate bus fares in July 2023, GoTriangle, GoDurham and GoRaleigh will remain fare-free for the time being.
In contrast, Chapel Hill Transit is a fare-free system and has been for two decades.
GoDurham, GoRaleigh, GoCary and GoTriangle suspended fares in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
GoTriangle provides regional bus and shuttle service and transit service for Wake County, Durham County, Orange County. The service may provide to Johnston County and Chatham County, GoTriangle Chief Communications Officer Eric Curry said.
Curry explained that fare-free ridership allowed better safety for bus operators and riders. Riders would enter through the rear side of the bus instead of the front of the bus, where they would traditionally pay the fare, thus limiting contact with the operator, Curry said.
He said that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were fewer riders, as commuters were often staying home. GoTriangle staff has begun to explore the possible resumption of fare collection, which could begin in the third quarter of 2023.
GoTriangle is trying to make the best decision for customers and riders, he said.
“The bus fares just help to offset some of the daily costs necessary for the maintenance of buses,” he said.
In the past, average transit fares for GoTriangle have been around two dollars, and GoTriangle has handled affordability issues surrounding bus fares on a case-by-case basis, Curry said.