Success of Bus Lines Called "Phenomenal"


Staff Writer

Just a month into its year-long trial run,

the Wilmington-to-Charlotte bus line now

stopping in Whiteville is popular among


“We had no idea it would go over this well,”

said Billy Ray Rhyne of Horizon Coach Lines.

The company provides the Queen City Coastal

connector, stopping in Whiteville twice a day.

For around $40, customers can be in either

city in just a few hours, on a modern coach

equipped with wifi and modern seats.

“This isn’t the bus I grew up cleaning,”

Rhyne said. Having worked in bus lines since

he was a child, Rhyne said the Whiteville route

is turning out to be one of the most popular

connector runs he has ever seen.

“We have been really impressed,” he said,

”and this is the summer time—we expect to

see even more this fall.”

Rhyne pointed out that he foresees a lot of

weekend travel by college students this fall,

as well as tourists and people traveling to see

family during the holidays.

“Using the Queen City Connector,” he said,

“you can travel to anywhere you want from

right here in Whiteville.

The line connects with Greyhound, which

Rhyne says goes to all the continental United

States and Canada.

“We see a lot of truck drivers riding the

bus, students, people who are looking for an

efficient, reasonably priced way to travel,” he

said. ”It’s a good deal. You can leave Wilmington

in the morning, and be in the mountains
by that night, then be back in

Wilmington by the next night,

with plenty of time in between.”

Pre-purchasing tickets is

encouraged, Rhyne said. Tickets

can be purchased online at www., at stations

along the route, or in the case

of Whiteville, at the Columbus

County Transportation office,

when the bus arrives.

“You could get a ticket as

long as your arm, and go anywhere

you wanted,” he said.

“It’s really a nice way to travel,

if you have the time.”

The bus route is a cooperative

effort between Horizon Coach

Lines, Greyhound, and the N.C.

Department of Transportation

mass transit initiative.

Unlike the lines of 30 and 40

years ago, the Queen City Coastal

is not designed to get workers

to and from Wilmington.

“This isn’t a commuter line,”

Rhyne said, ”but it’s an efficient,

comfortable way to travel. We

just appreciate the support Columbus

County has shown us in

this venture. I had no idea for

sure if it would work, but this

has been phenomenal.”

For schedules and tickets,

call (704) 509-1725 or go online



CCFC 10th Anniversary Celebration


The Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition held their 10th Anniversary event on Thursday, May 29, 2014 at the Foundation for the Carolinas in uptown Charlotte. The event celebrated past accomplishments, recognized valuable stakeholders and encouraged stakeholders to meet future challenges.

CCFC Logo and Sean Flaherty

Featured speakers at the event included:

· Keynote: Larry Shirley, Director of Operations and Planning at Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
· Nick Tennyson, North Carolina Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary;
· Miles Atkins, Mooresville Mayor;
· Jim Taylor, Matthews Mayor; and,
· Vi Lyles, Charlotte City Council Member At-Large.
"The goal of this event is to take a step back and recognize the stakeholders who have helped us achieve so much in the region in the past ten years,” said Jason Wager, Centralina Council of Governments Planning Program Supervisor – Sustainability. “Since being officially designated within the US Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition has displaced over 10 million gallons of gasoline equivalents.” Recognizing stakeholders took place throughout the entirety of the evening with many honorable mentions from the speakers.
Keynote speaker, Larry Shirley, declared, “Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition’s successes are a result of its leadership. Their success goes beyond reducing consumption of oil and extends to growing jobs and the economy, controlling cost of government and improving quality of life in this region.”

CCFC Awards Recognition-

Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition recognized stakeholders for their actions and activities related to reducing petroleum dependence, improving air quality, and expanding alternative fuel use and technology.
CCFC Chair Dave Navey and Vice-Chair Robert Taylor present the award to Gary Price who accepted the award on behalf of Rowan Transit System

Kicking the Dinosaur Habit - Rowan Transit System

This award recognizes an organization or individual who has greatly reduced their gasoline or diesel fuel consumption. Rowan Transit System is a non-emergency public transportation service for Rowan County residents. Rowan County Transit made the decision to convert 10 of their 28 vehicle fleet to propane for many reasons, including energy security, finances, and environmental concerns. As a result of the success, Rowan Transit now plans to convert their entire fleet to run on propane. Gary Price accepted the award on behalf of Rowan Transit System.

CCFC Chair Dave Navey and Vice-Chair Robert Taylor present award to Dan Nuckolls

Early Pioneers & Explorers - Dan Nuckolls

This award recognizes an organization or individual who helped lead the charge for CCFC and our mission. Dan is the longest serving member and core stakeholder, joining in 2003 he assisted with the designation process. As Director of City of Concord Fleet Services, he has worked to decrease the City’s use of petroleum and has helped displace almost 700,000 gallons of fuel by using biodiesel and electric vehicles in the City’s fleets.

CCFC Chair Dave Navey and Vice-Chair Robert Taylor present the award to Bryan Steiner

Taking the Bullhorn - Bryan Steiner

This award recognizes an individual or organization who has taught and provided outreach activities in line with CCFC and our mission. Bryan Steiner is a senior construction engineer and energy team leader at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Building Services. Specifically, he has made an effort to explore alternative fuels and clean transportation technologies in his role at CMS, making a noticeable impact on the information that gets shared within the organization and community.

CCFC Chair Dave Navey and Vice-Chair Robert Taylor present award to Cheree Wilson who accepted on behalf of Gaston ACCESS

Movers & Shakers - Gaston County ACCESS Central Transportation

This award recognizes an individual or organization that is a leader and has made significant accomplishments in line with CCFC’s mission. In early 2012, Gaston County ACCESS converted 15 transport vans to run LPG with the bi-fuel PRINS system. This conversion allows the vans to run either LPG or gasoline, and was funded by an ARRA grant. Since 2012, Gaston County ACCESS has burned approximately 80,157 gallons of clean burning LPG instead of gasoline. Cheree Wilson accepted the award on behalf of Gaston County ACCESS.

CCFC Chair Dave Navey and Vice-Chair Robert Taylor present the award to Marcie Smith

A League of Their Own - Marcie Smith

This award recognizes an individual or organization who is in a league of their own. Marcie Smith, Solid Waste and Recycling Administrator for Gaston County, has embraced the concept that waste management is evolving into Resource Management. In 2006, she partnered with CCFC to be the first landfill in NC to fuel all of the off-road equipment with B-20. She has helped develop Gaston County’s Renewable Energy Center which converts landfill gas to energy.
These awards included handmade art from local artists and were specifically picked for each winner based on the award.

Thank You to Our Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition is a local initiative of Centralina Council of Governments and is a part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities program. Since 2004, the Coalition has worked throughout the Centralina region to further the Clean Cities mission of reducing dependence on foreign oil, improving air quality, and promoting the use of alternative fuels and technologies.
The Coalition is made up of local, regional, and state government agencies, private companies, non-profit organizations, and interested individuals who work together towards the Clean Cities mission.
Sponsors for this event included Duke Energy, Fontaine Modification, Piedmont Natural Gas, ROUSH Clean Tech, North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, and Trillium CNG. We would like to thank our sponsors, along with the many who were involved in the program, for their generosity and time in allowing us to host such a special event.
Centralina Council of Governments
525 N. Tryon Street, 12th Floor
Charlotte, NC 28202
Part of the U.S.
DOE Clean Cities
National Network

NC: Report Looks at Charlotte's Sustainability Trends



Aug. 05--Charlotte trails national averages on transportation and land use patterns while showing improvement in energy use and other local measures, says a first-of-its-kind sustainability report card released Tuesday.
The nonprofit group Sustain Charlotte examined data trends in nine categories to produce the report, which is aimed to help local governments set goals and create policies.
"We're living in a time when more and more we're making decisions using big data," said Shannon Binns, Sustain Charlotte's executive director. "It seems important to have an understanding of whether we're making progress on these issues."
The report assigns two grades for each category, the first measuring local trends and the second a comparison to national averages.
The county's best grade was for water usage, in which Mecklenburg was given a B when compared to the nation as well as a B for its own usage trend.
Since the 2007 drought, water usage has declined significantly, which is one factor in a number of rate increases by Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities.
Mecklenburg fared worse on land use and transportation, getting Ds in both when compared to the nation. The trend line for transportation was better, with a B.
The report said the Charlotte metro area has been ranked as the fifth most sprawling area in the nation, and that the amount of land used for parks, on a per capita basis, has decreased since 2007.
In terms of transportation, Mecklenburg received high marks for an increase in people using public transportation to get to work (2.5 percent in 2000 to 3.8 percent in 2011), as well as the construction of the Lynx Blue Line.
But the report card noted that the area still trails national averages in terms of people who commute by biking, walking or taking public transportation.
Charlotte is building a $1.1 billion extension of the Lynx Blue Line to University City. But the Charlotte Area Transit System doesn't have enough money left to build other large rail projects.
Among the trends the report details: The number of local families and children living in poverty doubled between 2000 and 2011. Transportation costs are taking larger chunks of personal income. Sixty neighborhoods are "food deserts." Sprawling land development continues.
"Overall what this report shows is that there are very few areas in which we are making dramatic strides forward and outshining the national averages," Binns said.
Charlotte City Council member John Autry, who chairs the city's environmental committee, said the region can improve.
"Are we a leader (in these areas)? Not today," Autry said.
He said the region could make significant improvements, including a "pay as you throw" program in which residents pay for how much garbage they throw away.
"That would have a significant impact," he said.
County manager Dena Diorio said Mecklenburg's goal is to have a park within a 5- to 10-minute walk of all residents.
The report is aimed at local decision-makers, but the group hopes to also influence individual choices. It's also intended to serve as baseline data for residents involved in the Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan, which will develop community goals.
Sustain Charlotte makes recommendations for each category, with some drawn from sources such as Mecklenburg County's biennial State of the Environment report.
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation provides operating grants to Sustain Charlotte. The Davidson College Sustainability Scholars program provided intern Jordan Luebkemann, who helped compile the report's data. The report's other authors include Sustain board member Jennifer Fairchild, staff member Meg Fencil and Binns.
Copyright 2014 - The Charlotte Observer

NC: Raleigh's Capital Area Transit to Roll Out 'Smartcard' Fare System


Aug. 06--RALEIGH -- City bus riders will soon have an alternative to juggling coins and cash to pay their fare.
Capital Area Transit has accepted a $340,596 state grant to install "smartcard" readers on 70 buses. Unlike CAT's current magnetic strip tickets, smartcards can be reloaded using cash or a credit card.
Initially, riders will have to reload the cards with vending machines at the Moore Square bus station and at major transfer points throughout the city. But CAT plans to eventually set up a system for reloading cards online.
Raleigh will be the first bus service in the Triangle to use smartcards, but Triangle Transit and others plan to follow.
"We're very excited that we were successful with the grant," transit administrator David Eatman said. "Our partners will be watching as we go through the technology. They'll be evaluating the good and the challenges."
While nearly every business these days accepts credit cards, most CAT riders still use cash to pay fares, typically inserting $1 for a one-way ride or $2 for a day pass as they board the bus. Riders can buy a prepaid card, but those are only sold in $25 increments at two locations: the Moore Square station and CAT's Poole Road headquarters.
Eatman said the new vending machines will allow riders to load any amount or buy a one-day, weekly or monthly pass. And they'll be available around the clock -- a big improvement from the Moore Square ticket window that closes at 6.
If fewer riders use cash, bus boarding will move faster and the city will save on deposit costs. But Eatman said buses will never turn away someone standing at a bus stop with a dollar bill. "We don't want to do away with cash fares," he said.
The new system will also cost less to maintain because smartcard users won't have to run tickets through the fare box.
"When you have thousands of mechanical transactions per day, it does produce wear and tear on the system," Eatman said. "A contactless card does not."
Eatman expects to have the smartcard system in place within a year to 18 months. The new fare option will roll out as work begins on a $7 million renovation at the Moore Square station.
In addition to approving the smartcard grant, the Raleigh City Council got a look at the new station design Tuesday.
Highlights of the upgrade include new bathrooms, a central ticketing window with a big screen for arrival and departure times and a third bus lane. The goal is to make the station more inviting while allowing for more buses -- at least until a new bus station opens in the Warehouse District next to Raleigh's Union Station train hub.
The station hasn't gotten a major upgrade in 26 years, and city leaders hope the facelift makes riding the bus more appealing. Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said it's important that the city keeps the area clean.
"You can brighten this up, you can make it all it can be, but if we don't maintain it, it's for naught," she said.
Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter
Copyright 2014 - The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Carteret County Area Transport Officials Rebrand

MOREHEAD CITY — Public transport will have a fresh look and an updated schedule this July, as Carteret County Area Transport officials unveil the efforts of a re-branding meant to increase use of the service.

CCATS officials seek to expand services offered by the county system, which currently takes calls on a pick-up and delivery basis. Starting Monday, July 7, CCATS will instate its first fixed route.

The schedule will run a 30-minute loop, leaving from the County Department of Social Services office on Craven Street in Beaufort and hitting Arendell at Seventh Street in Morehead City before stopping at the city’s Walmart.

“When you plan a route, the biggest thing you want to look at is population density, so where are the people?” CCATS Director Randy Cantor told the News-Times. “The second thing you look at is where they want to go and that’s why we started with Walmart.”

The proximity to other shopping venues in Morehead City prompted the route decision and a number of the store’s employees use the buses regularly, said Willie Townsend, CCATS senior administrative assistant.

The route is slated to run 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday at a fixed rate of $2.

“It’s been my intention since I started to do a deviated fixed route. If you start with one, you can jump off and keep building on it,” said Mr. Cantor.

CCATS will continue regular services, which pick up riders at their door and deliver them to a desired location, based on pre-scheduled trips.

Buses transport riders to all areas of the county, at varying fares, and can deliver as far as Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill at a $100 price point.

All fares are accepted as cash or check and pickup must be scheduled by 11 a.m. the previous day. Officials said they are working to develop a frequent rider pass, which they hope to launch in the coming year.

To compliment the new route, officials have also secured funding for aesthetic marketing efforts, updating the design on the exterior of the fleet buses, supplying new uniforms for drivers, revamping pamphlets and adding new bus stops signs along the route.

“Anyone can ride the service, it’s public transit. That’s what we do. The only difference is we come to your house and pick you up or come to your business and pick you up,” said Mr. Cantor of trying to attract local interest. “Everybody thinks ‘oh that’s for old people, that’s for people in wheelchairs’ – it’s not. It’s public transportation. It’s for anyone who lives in this county.”

CCATS ran more than 55,000 trips in the past fiscal year, according to budget documents, and expects closer to 63,000 in the coming one, which starts July 1.

The total county cost of the new initiatives should come in at zero dollars, said Mr. Cantor, given his grants pan out.

“Everything has been paid for through grants, the county doesn’t (directly) contribute anything to the system,” he said

Though the department generated a fiscal 2014-15 budget with $1.03 million in expenditures, three major state and federal grants are expected to cover the majority of operations and capital costs.

“This is a big ‘if’ because grants aren’t a sure thing,” Mr. Cantor said. “If I can get all the grants I’ve applied for and we do the amount of ridership I think we can do, then we’ll break even.”

Peel-backs in state transportation funding are hurting public transit initiatives in smaller regions such as Carteret, he noted.

“Most of the funding that’s been funneled through, or appears to have been funneled through, for fiscal 2015 will go to roads,” he noted. “Whatever is left over the transit systems are all fighting for right now. That’s how the picture looks for funding for the next few years.”

According to N.C. Department of Transportation filings, in fiscal 2013-14 North Carolina spread $116.3 million of a $4.3 billion transportation budget across all state public transit projects.

“If you’re a proponent of public transit, if you want people out of their cars, it doesn’t really give us a fair shake because how can we (function effectively) when you’re eliminating our funding?” said Mr. Cantor.

This year’s budget does include grant money for the replacement of four of the 15-fleet vehicles and funds an additional supervisor.

Despite worries, the department officials said they are confident their grants for the coming budget year will see approval upon adoption of the state budget by Tuesday, July 1, and would hear back at some point next month.

In conjunction with grants and rider fares, the department uses inter-county contractual transport agreements as an additional revenue stream.

Service agreements shuttle patrons of tax-based departments, such as social services and the Leon Mann Jr. Enrichment Center, allowing CCATS to cover more ground, physically and financially.

Prior to CCATS, the county contracted with First Transit Bus Service Solutions Co., out of Cincinnati, Ohio, to provide transport for needed departments.

Carteret County ended that contract at the close of fiscal 2011-12, during which time they spent $585,000 for the contracted transportation means, according to county finance.

Officials said the switch to in-house operations has proved both cost saving and effective.

“If (the county is) paying for them to transport their people, why would you give that money away to someone, like the cab company, while we are here? … It’s an income source,” said Mr. Cantor.

CCATS officials are also exploring other revenue opportunities, said Mr. Cantor, including mobile advertising inside the vehicles and establishing partnerships with more businesses in the hopes of growing fixed routes and transit ridership.

“We want to get the word out there and the word is anybody who wants to can ride,” he said.

Contact Jackie Starkey at 726-7081, ext. 232; email; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.

Bus Service Coming to Whiteville



New daily intercity bus service is coming

to Whiteville.

Horizon Coach Lines plans to begin offering

bus service via the Queen City-Coastal

Connector here beginning July 1.

The federally subsidized route administered

by funds funneled through the state will

connect several rural areas of Southeastern

North Carolina to metropolitan areas such as

Charlotte and Wilmington.

The Wilmington-Charlotte route will pick

up passengers at the Columbus County Transportation

office on Legion Drive in Whiteville

at 9 a.m. The route will have stops in Lumberton

(9:45 a.m.), Laurinburg, Rockingham,

Wadesboro and Monroe before arriving in

Charlotte at 2 p.m.

The Charlotte-Wilmington route begins

with bus departure at 5 p.m. in Charlotte

and will have stops in Monroe, Wadesboro,

Rockingham, Laurinburg, Fayetteville and

Lumberton before arriving in Whiteville at 10

p.m. nightly. Those traveling from Whiteville

to Wilmington will arrive in Wilmington at

10:45 p.m.

In 2009, the N.C. Department of Transportation

via collaboration with N.C. State University

studied bus routes across the state in an

effort to “really connect rural and urban areas

in North Carolina, NCDOT spokesperson Jennifer

Garifo said.

The proposed route is an extension of the

Charlotte-Fayetteville route, Garifo said. “It’s

a great thing,” she said.

“It is the completion of the missing piece,”

New Bus Links Wilmington and Charlotte

A new state-subsidized bus route linking Wilmington and Charlotte has launched.

MOREAdditional Links

The Queen City-Coastal Connector intercity bus service makes nine stops, including in Whiteville, Lumberton, and Fayetteville.
Each day there will be one trip between Charlotte and Wilmington in both directions.
Charles Patton, director of Columbus County Public Transportation, said the last intercity bus service stopped in the county more than 25 years ago.
"I have for years been getting phone calls asking if there was a way to get to Wilmington or get to Fayetteville," he said.
Patton explained once passengers get to the larger cities, they can catch another bus line or even a train.
"You can go anywhere in the country from there," Patton said.
On-board wi-fi is just one of the changes Emmett Langley has seen in his 39 year career as a bus driver.
He was behind the wheel of the Horizon Coach Lines bus as it left Whiteville Tuesday morning en route to Lumberton.
Langley said interacting with passengers is a reward of the job.
"I listen to what they have to say - their excitement about going home for weddings or their sadness going home for funerals," he said.
Langley has driven more than two million miles in his career. With this new route, he will add 268 each day.

Public Transportation Division Assistant Director Recognized by N.C. Public Transportation Association

NCDOT Assistant Director for Mobility Development Cheryl Leonard, MPA was recently named the recipient of the North Carolina Public Transportation Association Secretary's Award.

Leonard was presented with this award at the 2014 NCPTA Annual Conference on April 18 in Charlotte.

Leonard was chosen as the recipient of this award by her peers based on criteria and performance for moving grants, assisting with visionary ideas and addressing issues timely.

The Secretary’s Award recognizes exceptional leadership and excellence.  The award seeks to recognize an individual, system or organization that surpasses expectations in embracing partnerships and collaborations that have made substantial improvement in the delivery of public transportation service or raises the bar in support of public transportation in the State.  The concept for the award was to identify individuals and organizations/businesses that work endlessly to promote public transportation, engage in policy-making and other external efforts to achieve greater mobility and prioritization of public transportation services throughout the state. 
NCPTA is a private, non-profit organization, incorporated on January 18, 1983, with a mission to promote and be an advocate for public transportation throughout the state. NCPTA represents public transportation providers in all 100 counties of the state. 

TRACS/WCTS Declared Winners of RouteMatch Software Excellence Award

TRACS/WakeCoordinated Transportation Service (WCTS) was awarded the RouteMatch Software Excellence in Action Award in the Innovator in Mobility Management category during the annual RouteMatch User Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, which took place March 31 through April 3.

The award recognized the TRACS/WCTS program for their innovations in implementing and using technology to improve customer service, reduce complaints, increase cost savings and improve on-time performance, as well as their use of technology to manage the delivery of a variety of mobility options.

Award winners were chosen by individual peer ballot from conference attendees representing transportation programs in the United States, Canada and Australia. Conference attendees represented not only the private business sector, but non-profits, local, county and state governments.

From Wake County Human Services Transportation Services provides a variety of transportation for agency-eligible participants. Eligibility is based on sponsorship by participating agencies/programs such as Medicaid, Public Health, Work First and other programs. Please contact your case worker for eligibility. 

Americans with Disabilities Act Workshop Held for Transit Providers

Excellent format, good pace, well organized, great job” – it is not easy for lengthy, full-day workshops on confusing and complex legal topics to garner such positive feedback, but the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) workshops conducted in May did more than just that. 

More than 125 transit system and NCDOT employees from dozens of organizations participated in workshops over three days to refresh their knowledge and learn new concepts and applications of ADA and how it relates to transit service provision. ADA is an essential civil right that has wide-ranging, complex applications in the world of transit. Frequent training on ADA issues in transit is necessary because the standards are constantly evolving with case law decisions, administrative interpretations, and guidance on implementation.

The NCDOT Public Transportation Division sponsored the workshops and the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at N.C. State University contracted with Russell Thatcher from TranSystems to deliver the training. Russell is a nationally recognized expert in ADA and an accomplished instructor.  The events were hosted by Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation in Greensboro.

The workshops were divided into three sections to target transit providers with specific service design characteristics, as ADA regulations vary depending on what type of transit service is provided. Day one was an in-depth training on determining ADA paratransit eligibility for urban fixed route transit systems. Day two concerned ADA paratransit operations and best practices for both community and urban transit systems operating fixed routes. ADA 101 on day three was an overview and refresher course on the ADA’s best practices and regulations for community transportation providers.

The interactive instruction techniques and comprehensive course content enabled the workshop attendees to return to their local transit systems with more knowledge about the ADA and better prepared to implement its requirements.