New bus routes going to City Council

New bus routes going to City Council
December 17
00:00 2015
Photo by Todd Luck
Winston-Salem Transit Authority buses pull in and out of the Clark Campbell Transportation Center in downtown Winston-Salem.

By Todd Luck

For The Chronicle

The biggest overhaul of bus routes in Winston-Salem Transit Authority history is close to becoming reality.

The new routes were approved by the Public Works Committee during its Tuesday, Dec. 15 meeting and will go before the City Council for consideration on Monday. If approved it will take six months to a year to roll out the new routes, as it will require reprograming WSTA’s computer systems, training its employees, moving bus stops and a massive campaign to let riders know about the new routes.

WSTA used its automatic passenger counter information and a survey of passenger’s origin and destinations to draw up the new proposed routes. The routes are designed to shorten travel time and add crosstown routes that won’t require riders to ride downtown to transfer. The WSTA held a series of community meetings to get public input in May and June on the proposed routes and got a lot of feedback from bus riders, concerned that they would have longer walks to their new bus stops or to their destinations.

“When we did this, the planners did this by the numbers based on all the data, but we were under no illusion that we weren’t going to have to adjust and make some modification based on public input,” said WSTA Director Art Barnes.

The proposed routes would’ve eliminated service to Green Street United Methodist Church, whose Shalom Project offers a variety of services for those in need, including a free medical clinic, food pantry and clothing closet.

“Most of the clients who use our various services do not have cars or reliable transportation and so they really are dependent on public transportation,” said Shalom Project Executive Director Lynn Brown.

Shalom Project also hosts Circles Winston-Salem, a program that matches those in poverty with middle class allies. Those in the Circles program attended public comment meetings and got one hundred signatures on a petition in support of keeping the bus service. City Council Member Molly Leight said she’d communicated concerns she’d heard from those at the church about the routes change to the WSTA.

Now the proposed Route 5 has been altered to once again to include service for the Shalom Project. The new route will go down Broad Street, which is close to its current bus stop at West Academy and Laurel Streets.

It’s just one of 12 routes that have been altered after public comments. Other examples include both proposed routes 8 and 9, which were modified to include Industries for the Blind, whose blind and visually impaired workforce relies heavily on public transportation. Proposed Route 10 was modified to include Crystal Towers apartment complex and Route 13 was changed to include Andrew Heights Apartments.

A new proposed Route 27, a circulator route for the Southside of the city, will fill in a gap created by the proposed elimination of the current Route 30, said Barnes. It’ll provide service to many apartment complexes in the Southeast Ward and make stops at places like Food Lion, Second Harvest Food Bank, and King Plaza Shopping Center.

Last week, Public Works Committee Chair Dan Besse said between public comments and working with each City Council member on any concerns on routes in their ward, he was confident the new routes will be more efficient while taking into account riders’ concerns.

“It’s taken a while to go through the concerns identified by the citizens pretty much one-by-one. I think we’ve about resolved about everything we can and that’s a great majority of the concerns,” he said.


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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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