Taking a bus to RDU is about to get easier, and here’s good news for other riders, too

Passengers who ride the GoRaleigh bus are getting new and more frequent bus service.
Passengers who ride the GoRaleigh bus are getting new and more frequent bus service.

It will be easier to catch a bus between downtown Raleigh and the airport starting next week, and Cary residents will have Sunday bus service for the first time starting this weekend.

The changes are part of the new and more frequent bus service made possible by an increase in the local sales tax approved by Wake County voters last fall. The half-cent sales tax hike went into effect April 1 and will help pay for the Wake Transit Plan, a 10-year, $2.3 billion effort to increase bus service throughout the county and eventually introduce dedicated bus lanes, primarily in Raleigh, and add commuter rail between Garner and Durham.

Among the changes starting Aug. 6:

▪ GoRaleigh buses will run more frequently and for longer hours on Sundays, matching the Saturday schedule except after 11 p.m. Also, Route 7, which runs along South Saunders Street, will now run every 15 minutes instead of every half hour, Monday through Friday.

▪ In addition to introducing Sunday service, GoCary will increase the midday frequency on Routes 3, 4, 5 and 6 and begin offering half-price fares to students ages 13 to 18.

▪ GoTriangle Route 100, between the GoRaleigh Station downtown and the Regional Transit Center in Durham, will run every 30 minutes Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and starting at 6:40 a.m. Saturday. Route 100 stops along Hillsborough Street near N.C. State University and at Raleigh-Durham International Airport before continuing to Durham. It has been running every hour.

Nearly 176,000 riders took Route 100 in the year that ended June 30, 2016, the most recent figure available, and GoTriangle expects that number will increase when the buses run more often, said spokesman Mike Charbonneau.

“That is one of the more popular routes for GoTriangle,” Charbonneau said. “It’s unique in that it goes to the airport.”

The Wake transit tax increase passed with support from about 53 percent of voters in November. It will help finance the latest strategy for heading off gridlock on the county’s highways and give people more options for getting to work, school or other destinations.

The changes that take place Sunday are the first of several planned improvements to bus systems in the county, said Jeff Mann, general manager of GoTriangle. He said riders will soon see better bus stops and new park-and-ride lots as well.

“The investments that Wake County voters approved will allow our agencies to continue to work together to create a strong regional transit system that means better access to opportunities and a better quality of life for everyone,” Mann said in a statement.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling