Chapel Hill NC Transit Explores Pittsboro-Chapel Hill Route

 Chapel Hill NC Transit Explores Pittsboro-Chapel Hill Route

A proposed express bus route between Pittsboro and Chapel Hill is drawing enthusiastic support from Chatham County residents who make the daily commute along U.S. 15-501.  Brian Litchfield, assistant transit director for the Town of Chapel Hill, said Chapel Hill Transit has been working with the town of Pittsboro for several months to expand bus service to Chatham County. While many of the details — including stop locations, hours and cost — still have to be ironed out, the service could begin in early 2009. “We’ve developed a general idea of the service,” Litchfield said. “The demand is mainly at peak hours early in the morning and late in the afternoon. We’re asking the public what their needs and desires are to help us determine the hours and stops.” Chapel Hill Transit has been able to secure a state grant that would cover up to 50 percent of the cost for the express route for 18 months. Pittsboro Town Manager Bill Terry said he has been told the grant could possibly be renewed once the 18 months are up, or elected officials could decide whether to continue the program through fares or tax dollars. Stop locations and park-and-ride lots are certainly an issue, Terry added. He said Chapel Hill Transit has been making inquiries about parking lots in town, but officials might have to work out agreements with privately owned lots, such as the one at Lowe’s Home Improvement off U.S. 15-501, if there isn’t a dedicated lot. Litchfield said that approximately 30 percent of UNC and UNC Hospitals employees live in Chatham and Alamance counties. Triangle Transit has tentatively scheduled regional express service to Chatham County by 2011, he added, but that’s not soon enough for commuters as gas prices continue to fluctuate.  “There appears to be a more immediate need for service [in Chatham County],” Litchfield said. We are working closely with UNC and UNC Hospitals because obviously they have an interest with a significant number of their employees coming from that area.”By Lisa Young, The Herald-Sun

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