Chapel Hill Transit is the second largest transit system in the state and the largest fare-free system in the US with nearly seven million riders annually. It does a good job supporting UNC’s students and staff (as well as others going to/from Downtown or the campus at peak hours). It is less effective as a means of transportation for residents who are travelling at other times and/or going elsewhere in Chapel Hill, particularly since evening/night and week end service is quite limited.
Two significant challenges exist for transit in Chapel Hill:
- Strengthening CHT and, over time, expanding and reconfiguring its services to support new development in areas such as Obey Creek and Ephesus Fordham and becoming a more viable transportation alternative for the average Chapel Hill resident
- There is insufficient regional connectivity to meet the needs of the many people who commute in and out of Chapel Hill/Carrboro every day and who are the major cause of our rush hour traffic problem -- nearly 40,000 every day.
Specific actions that I believe should be explored include:
- Increasing the funds allocated to CHT from the ORBIP funds, even if it means slowing implementation of the DOLRT by a year or two.
- Beginning a planning process that looks at the future development patterns in Chapel Hill and considers significant changes in CHT’s route structure. A new route connecting, for example, the Gateway Light Rail station, Ephesus-Fordham, Glen Lennox, and Obey Creek/Southern Village might be warranted.
- Chapel Hill needs to take a leadership role in convening the key stakeholders to develop a coordinated and fully functional transit system that can have a meaningful impact on traffic, the environment, and quality of life
We are fortunate to have the transit system we do in Chapel Hill. In the coming years we need to make it even better.