Tag Archive: chtransit

Voters in Durham County approved a half cent sales tax that will be used to fund transit improvements and a light-rail transit system.

The tax will not take effect unless Orange and Wake counties also approve a similar measure.

If the other counties enact a similar tax, bus service would be expanded and a light rail line from Durham to UNC will be built.

A commuter rail line would also be built from downtown Durham to eastern Wake County.

For more information, see the Daily Tar Heel and the News and Observer.


Car Free Day in Chapel Hill

Alternative transportation is natural for many, but tomorrow Chapel Hill hopes to encourage more to give up their cars during the town’s annual Car Free Day.

“The ultimate goal is to reduce carbon emissions and help our planet,” said Chapel Hill Public Information Officer Catherine Lazorko. “Many residents are able to make any day a car-free one, while others of us are challenged to think of other ways we can reduce our carbon footprint.”

While only about 20 percent of the nation commutes to work by means other than driving alone, 32 percent of Chapel Hill residents use alternative transportation according to data from the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey.

Town residents commute to work using the bus at about twice the national average, according to the survey.

“Every day is Car Free Day in Chapel Hill,” said Assistant Director of Chapel Hill Transit Brian Litchfield. “Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC have been committed to utilizing public transportation to travel for some time.”

Chapel Hill Transit gives about 7 million rides per year and that number is predicted to increase, he said.

NextBus, a website that uses GPS tracking to show bus arrival times, and the switch to a fare-free system have encouraged many people to use the bus system, Litchfield said. Compared to these year round initiatives, Car Free Day doesn’t encourage many more people to switch, he said.

“We’ve got a lot of folks who are already using public transportation,” Litchfield said. “We tend not to see the large spikes in ridership on these days.”

But Chapel Hill Transportation Demand Management Coordinator Len Cone said the bus is not the whole story when it comes to alternative transportation in Chapel Hill.

“Chapel Hill has had an eye on being biker and pedestrian friendly,” Cone said. “I think people take advantage of that.”

Town residents walk to work at four times the national rate, according to the American Community Survey.

“Once you’ve tried it, you can see the benefits of it,” Cone said.

Chapel Hill was also recently designated bicycle friendly by the League of American Bicyclists.

“We are proud of the roadmap that the Bicycle Friendly Business program provides and how the Town Government of Chapel Hill used it to transform,” said Bill Nesper, director of the league’s Bicycle Friendly America program in a press release.

The Town provides bike checkouts, bicycle workshops and incentives such as prize drawings and giveaways, according to the press release.

As part of Car Free Day, anyone riding Chapel Hill Transit on Thursday can ask for a car free sticker from the driver. By bringing the sticker to the Chapel Hill Planning Department, residents can enter a drawing for gift cards and other prizes.

“We’re trying to say thank you,” Cone said.

For every mile a resident drives, about one pound of carbon dioxide is released and the average commute is 20 miles each way, she said.

“The emphasis is on that,” she said.