Durham County

More buses, sidewalks and housing: what Durham residents want

A GoDurham bus passed by on East Main Street in downtown Durham. Residents told city and county leaders on Jan. 30 that they want buses and sidewalks to be a priority.
A GoDurham bus passed by on East Main Street in downtown Durham. Residents told city and county leaders on Jan. 30 that they want buses and sidewalks to be a priority. dvaughan@heraldsun.com

Durham Mayor Pro Tem Jillian Johnson says budgets are moral documents that show a city’s values by what they spend money on.

Judging from public input at a “Community Conversation” this week, the people want some of that money spent on buses.

More bus routes. Free bus fare. Bus shelters. Faster bus routes.

New this year, the city and county governments are holding community conversations on a variety of topics as they start planning the next fiscal year budget that starts July 1.

More than 100 people came out on a cold Tuesday night to the Durham County Human Services building downtown. City and county leaders gave a brief overview of government services before small groups discussed what they want for Durham’s housing, health and transit future.

What the people said they want most:


  • Bus shelters.
  • More sidewalks.
  • More bus services.
  • Better customer service on buses.
  • Shorter bus routes.
  • Rapid bus transit.
  • More affordable buses.
  • Light rail sooner rather than later.
  • Free bus service.
  • Fill in ditches.
  • Safety for bikes and pedestrians.
  • Safety for children riding buses.
  • Make more bus routes.
  • Decrease transit time.
  • Expand the Bull City Connector.
  • Multiple bus hubs with rides at 20-minute intervals.
  • More frequent bus stops.
  • More bus routes.
  • More bike lanes.
  • Fix up Alston Avenue.


  • City-supported co-housing, elderly housing and aging in place.
  • Raising developer permit fees.
  • Higher standards for landlords.
  • Raise tax for affordable housing.
  • Funds to renovate properties for affordable housing units.
  • Help people pay for home repairs and stay in their houses.
  • Tiny homes.
  • Streamline process for accepting Section 8 vouchers.
  • Increase affordable housing stock.
  • Understand what affordable housing means to different groups of people.
  • More attractive upkeep of affordable housing.
  • Help people stay in their homes.
  • Include public housing and low income housing when talking about affordable housing.

Access to county health and social services

  • Walk-in behavioral health clinics.
  • The phone tree prompt for “Spanish” to be in Spanish.
  • More protection for children.
  • Weekend hours for social services.
  • Mobile social services.
  • More mental health providers in schools.
  • Expand access not just on the internet.
  • Access to home delivery of nutritious food.

Each table was led by a government official, from Durham County Commissioner Brenda Howerton to Durham Ciy Council member DeDreana Freeman. City and county staff were spread throughout. After more than an hour of table talk, the groups shared their lists of what they want the city and county to make priorities about each topic.

Mayor Steve Schewel said they would take the comments really seriously and use it for their budget and strategic plan.

The third and final “Community Conversation” is about education and jobs. It will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 at Brogden Middle School.

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan