Residents headed north on U.S. 401 to work in downtown Raleigh or Research Triangle Park will soon have a possible reprieve from the heavy rush-hour traffic.
Thanks to N.C. Department of Transportation funding, the Triangle Transit Authority plans to expand bus service to Fuquay-Varina starting in January.
The town is building a park-and-ride lot next to the Fuquay-Varina Community Center, and an express bus will take travelers from there to downtown Raleigh, with only one stop on the way at a Food Lion parking lot on N.C. 401.
“So we’ve got some good service coming your way,” Triangle Transit rep Laurie Barrett told the Fuquay-Varina Town Commissioners last week during a presentation on the new services.
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As long as the town is able to finish construction on the park-and-ride lot in time, the bus route will begin Jan. 12.
Rides will be $3 each way, and free for state employees.
Morning buses will leave the community center every 30 minutes from 6:05-8:35 a.m. on weekdays. The afternoon buses will leave Raleigh’s Moore Square, also every 30 minutes on weekdays, from 3:25-5:55 p.m.
The commute is expected to take about 45 minutes each way, although Barrett said that after service actually starts, “if the timing needs to be adjusted, we’ll do so.”
Triangle Transit is also hiring van drivers to take smaller groups from Fuquay-Varina to RTP, Barrett said. Details of that program haven’t been announced.
Fuquay-Varina Mayor John Byrne asked about adding more stops to the bus route, particularly one at the main Wake Technical Community College campus off of U.S. 401.
But Barrett neither she nor town officials could make such a change.
“Please keep in mind this is a DOT-funded route, so DOT makes all the decisions,” Barrett said.
The DOT funding expires in August 2016. If the route is popular, Barrett said, Triangle Transit and the Town of Fuquay-Varina could potentially split the costs after August 2016—unless the DOT comes up with more money.
The DOT announced recently that, at the request of the General Assembly, it will begin looking into a number of ways to raise money, including through fees and advertising.
Regardless of the funding source, Barrett said the route’s success will depend on residents’ usage of the route.
Each bus has the capacity to take more than 30 passengers, which could result in fewer vehicles on roads between Fuquay-Varina and Raleigh.
Anything to help decrease strain on roads is a good thing, town officials said, especially if it also helps people get to work in a cheaper, less stressful way.
“We’ve got a new district engineer from DOT,” Byrne said at an October meeting. “I want him here. I want to show him our roads. They’re terrible.”
He said while many people focus on new roads or widened streets, it’s important to remember that with winter coming up, existing road conditions may get worse.
“If it freezes and thaws, freezes and thaws, all of us are gonna be out there with shovels and dirt,” filling in potholes, he warned the rest of the commissioners.