RALEIGH — Starting early next year, the Capital Area Transit bus system will roll out one of its biggest expansions in service since the recession.
Transit planners are seeking feedback about the proposed changes, which will put more buses on the city’s busiest routes during midday, evening and weekend hours. Other routes will see tweaks, and a few little-used bus stops in North Raleigh will no longer be served.
The Raleigh City Council recently increased bus funding, but CAT doesn’t have the vehicles to add more trips during rush hour. “Our limiting factor right now is we don’t have enough buses,” transit planner Carmalee Scarpitti said.
Scarpitti said the city has ordered more buses, but they won’t hit the roads for about a year because the manufacturer must build them.
“You don’t just go to the bus garage and pick one up,” she said.
The expanded service and route changes come as CAT considers a proposed fare increase. The fare for in-town trips, which has not changed since 2007, would rise to $1.25 in 2014 and $1.50 in 2015.
The fare increase has drawn fire from some community leaders, including Octavia Rainey, who points out that the downtown R-Line circulator remains free while the city’s poor must pay to get around.
“That is nothing but a black tax,” Rainey said, noting that many bus riders are minorities. “They should not be increasing fares at all.”
Here’s a look at the proposed changes for each area of the city:
East and Southeast Raleigh: The busy Route 15 bus to WakeMed will have buses every 15 minutes during midday hours and service every 30 minutes on Saturdays. The route will be extended from its current end point at WakeMed to the Walmart at New Bern Avenue and New Hope Road, meaning riders headed outside the Beltline won’t have to transfer to a different line. Route 15’s current stops along Sunnybrook Road will be transferred to the Route 19 bus, which serves Apollo Heights and will run until 11 p.m. and on weekends. With more departures on Route 19, Route 18 to Worthdale won’t go through Apollo Heights, and all buses on Route 18 will go to the CAT Operations Facility on Poole Road.
North Raleigh: The busy Route 1 bus up Capital Boulevard will have service every 15 minutes during midday hours. Route 8 (marked Northclift) will be extended north on Six Forks Road and end at Strickland Road. Route 8L, called Sawmill, will no longer operate, and its stops along Lynn Road will be removed from the bus system. Scarpitti said those stops served a relatively small number of riders.
West and South Raleigh: Route 6 to Crabtree Valley Mall will get Sunday service from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Route 7 on South Saunders Street toward Garner will have buses running every 30 minutes on Sundays.
Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter