Editorial: Get involved in process for new bus routes

Editorial: Get involved in process for new bus routes
May 14
00:00 2015

The Winston-Salem Transit Authority (WSTA) is holding information sessions for the public through June 8 to explain the changes planned for the bus system starting later this year or early next year. Everyone should be involved in the process of this major overhaul of WSTA bus routes. The major overhaul is the first one since the city of Winston-Salem bought the Safe Bus Co. in 1972.

The Safe Bus Co., owned by African-Americans, had developed an extensive route system based on the east side of Winston-Salem. It served that area during segregation because that’s where most of the African-Americans lived. Most African-Americans in Winston-Salem still live on the east side of the city. Safe Bus extended its routes to other parts of the city during its existence when the bus system serving the west side of the city shut down.

WSTA has information about each proposed new routes and a schedule of the information sessions on its website at Also, see The Chronicle’s story at

Everyone should become involved in the process because buses ride through neighborhoods where people live, neighbors use the bus system and taxpayers’ money pays for it.

WSTA has said that under its proposal, routes will change, all bus routes will receive new numerical names and the frequency of bus service will increase. That will mean big changes in people’s lives.

Riders will have to function with the new route numbers and times.

In a survey of the preliminary bus routes on the website, some bus stops on schedules now have been eliminated. Some riders will have to walk farther to get to bus stops or find alternative means of transportation.

WSTA officials say the goal with the new routes will be to have shorter travel time and better passenger access, too. But there are fewer routes. Now there are 40 routes. Under the proposal, there will be 26 routes. What will this mean for bus riders across the city, especially for those who live east of U.S. Highway 52? These residents largely use the bus system.

Attend the WSTA sessions in your ward to find out what the new bus system will mean to you and your neighbors, or attend a session at the Transportation Center on Fifth Street downtown.

Transportation is very important to people’s lives. It could make or break a job offer or even a promotion. It could mean limited groceries if people cannot get to the grocery store. It could mean issues with childcare if people cannot get their children to the people who will take care of them. It could mean not attending college or any other school if students cannot get there.

Without a public bus system that is reliable and convenient, people will have to find more expensive alternatives, such as cabs.

Of course, residents might have friends and neighbors who will give them rides or they can buy cars so they won’t have to ride the bus.

That would ease their transportation burden. However, those alternatives won’t be an option for everyone.

The bus system in Winston-Salem is inexpensive, saving people money to spend in other areas of their lives. WSTA officials said the proposed system would operate at the current cost of the transit system, using the same amount of miles driven and worker hours. They say there won’t be an increased cost to passengers or the city.

This seems to mean that bus fares will not increase. But many riders now will have to make changes in their lives if the buses don’t come near their homes under the new schedules, which could mean they will have to spend extra money.

Council members are discussing the changes in the bus system at their constituent meetings, also. Council Member Derwin Montgomery will hold his East Ward Town Hall Meeting meeting tonight (Thursday, May 14) at New Jerusalem Baptist Church, 1212 North Dunleith Ave.

Attend the WSTA sessions and ask questions and let your voice be heard. The sessions are supposed to be places at which the WSTA wants to hear from you. Let them hear you, loud and clear.

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