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Bus fares are likely to return for some Triangle routes

GoTriangle

GoTriangle, the regional service with a fleet of green buses, has announced that fares will be reinstated on its routes from July 1. GoTriangle’s routes branch from central hubs in Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Cary, connecting as far west as Mebane and as far east as Zebulon. Riders who download the Umo app can ride for free until July.

GoTriangle buses will still be free for people under 18 or over 65, as well as for adults with disabilities or for people who qualify for Medicaid, SNAP/EBT benefits or have a household income of less than $35,000 .

Raleigh

GoRaleigh buses will likely start collecting fares again on July 1. Despite some City Council discussions to address the problem, the current budget proposal does not include funding to keep the service free. The budget proposal cited the end of pandemic-era federal aid and noted that even with the fares, Raleigh’s transit system will run an $8 million deficit in the 2025 budget year.

Construction on Raleigh’s Bus Rapid Transit line on New Bern Avenue recently began construction, although residents are concerned about the gentrification that could come with a zoning change along the route to allow for taller buildings and more housing.

A GoRaleigh bus stops on New Bern Avenue Credit: Photo by Angelica Edwards

Durham

GoDurham’s bus routes will remain free for at least another year as long as the City Council’s ongoing budget negotiations do not fail.

Durham Councilor Javiera Caballero said at a recent budget work session that she hoped increased numbers of visitors would help the city achieve its climate goals by discouraging people from driving their own cars.

But Council Member Mark-Anthony Middleton pointed out that the city faces another challenge: getting wealthier (and often whiter) car owners to take the bus.

“I want to keep it free. But I want to keep it free so that a cross-section of Durham residents ride it, and not just a service for predominantly lower-income black and brown people,” Middleton said. “If we really want to reduce our carbon footprint and get to where we need to be, it has to be done in an egalitarian way – everyone (has to see it) as something they can use.”

Of respondents to a 2022 survey of Durham bus drivers, 77 percent identified as Black, 87 percent lived in households making less than $35,000 per year, and 77 percent did not have access to a car.

Chapel Hill Passage

Chapel Hill’s signature Carolina Blue buses have been free for decades thanks to a partnership between Chapel Hill, Carrboro and the University of North Carolina. There are currently no plans to raise fares, even on the new Bus Rapid Transit line currently under development.

Reach reporter Chase Pellegrini de Paur at [email protected]. Respond to this story via [email protected].

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