As a student at Wake Tech’s RTP campus, J’ya Hunter takes a bus from Raleigh to the GoTriangle regional transit center off Slater Road in Durham. From there, she has to get an Uber ride the last two miles to campus, at a cost of $10 to $15 each way.
That all changes Monday, when GoTriangle begins a new route between its transit center and the Wake Tech campus. Route 310 will run every half hour weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., with additional stops in the Perimeter Park office park.
GoTriangle and Wake Tech celebrated the new route with a special run Thursday. Sandy Dietrich, Wake Tech’s chief academic officer, said for some students bus service may be a deciding factor in whether to enroll at the community college, which now has more than 74,000 students.
“It’s extremely important that our students have access from all points of the county to our campuses,” Dietrich said.
With Route 310, students can now take a bus to five of Wake Tech’s six campuses, most of which are in suburban locations most easily reached by car. The exception is the Western Wake campus on a part of Kildaire Farm Road not served by GoCary.
Jenna Craddock, Wake Tech’s transportation coordinator, said the college surveyed students at Western Wake about taking the bus.
“We didn’t get enough positive feedback on that,” Craddock said. “But that was a few years ago.”
That wasn’t the case at the RTP campus, which opened with one building a year ago at the corner of Chapel Hill and Watkins roads. Wendy Cook, the dean of enrollment and student services, says many students made it known that they needed help getting to campus and would happily take the bus.
“Pretty much students were taking Uber and Lyft to get here, which is pretty costly,” Cook said.
Hunter is studying polymer chemistry at N.C. State University, where she lives on campus, while she also works toward an associates degree in science at Wake Tech. Asked what she’ll do with the money she’ll save not taking Uber to class in Morrisville, she replied, “Tuition.”
Wake Tech will soon break ground on a second building at its RTP campus and has room for nine altogether, with an eventual enrollment of up to 7,000. The campus, which has 2,000 degree and non-degree students now, is the focal point for Wake Tech’s IT programs, including business analytics and cybersecurity.
Wake Tech expects its students will also benefit from a new North Raleigh Express bus that begins Monday along Interstate 540 between the regional transit center and Triangle Town Center mall, with a stop at a park-and-ride lot off Falls of Neuse and Strickland roads. The Scott Northern Wake Campus, off Louisburg Road near the mall, has become Wake Tech’s largest.
Route 310 and the North Raleigh Express bus will be free through August. Also starting Monday, riders 65 and older will ride GoTriangle buses for free.