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 jackie@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.

Bus Service Coming to Whiteville

By NICOLE CARTRETTE


 


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

WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) -
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 Wakegov.com: 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.

Community Transportation Systems Launching New Scheduling Software


Software demonstration with Area of Richmond Transit staff

Community transportation systems in Stanly and Richmond counties are preparing to transition to the TrIP_Maker scheduling and reporting software by entering customer, trip, and funding data in preparation for the system’s live launch on July 1.

TrIP_Maker and other scheduling software products provide many benefits for the user:


  1. The software enables small urban and community transportation systems to easily manage their clients, organize their trips onto runs, map the runs to improve efficiency, and automatically generate bills, operating statistics, performance, and other essential management reports;
  2. The software helps standardize business practices and prepare the transit systems for future advanced technologies; and
  3. There is an industry-wide demand for increased performance measurements and service statistics. Implementing TrIP_Maker gives these transportation providers the tools to quickly compile and report accurate and reliable data to meet these demands.


With these two new sites on board, TrIP_Maker is now in use at 16 public transportation systems in North Carolina. The software is designed and supported by the Institute for Transportation Research and Education at North Carolina State University.
Transit systems in N.C. using TrIP_Maker