Proposed new bus routes prompt this comment: ‘That’s a long walk’

Proposed new bus routes prompt this comment: ‘That’s a long walk’
June 11
00:00 2015

In photo above: WSTA Executive Director Art Barnes goes over the proposed bus routes with passengers during the final comment meeting. (Photo by Todd Luck)

At final WSTA meeting, new bus routes displease many

The final comment meeting on the new proposed Winston-Salem Transit Authority bus routes held at the Clark Campbell Transportation Center was filled with passengers asking about which of the new routes will serve them.

Some didn’t care for the answer.

“That’s a long walk,” said one woman who will have to walk further to get to the closest proposed bus route.

“That’s three miles!” another woman exclaimed in reaction to the distance from her home to the proposed route. She said she currently walks at least two miles to get to her current route.

WSTA Director Art Barnes went over each of the 26 new proposed routes with about 40 attendees who were present at the beginning of the final comment session this week. He then took questions, as he and WSTA staff tried to help passengers figure out which of the proposed routes they need to take to get where they’re going. He urged attendees to put their comments in writing so the WSTA can see what changes need to be made on the new routes.
“This process is far from over,” he said, while assuring attendees that they will have ample notice when the finalized routes go into effect.

It was the last out of 21 comment meetings held by WSTA. The new proposed routes were created using passenger surveys, passenger counter data and looking at which destinations generate the most passengers. The new routes would operate under the current WSTA budget with a similar amount of miles and man-hours as the current routes. The routes are designed to be shorter, with most being 30 minutes long, and are designed to be more direct ways to get to popular destinations.

This is the first overhaul of routes in WSTA history and radically changes the shape of routes that have been traveled for decades. As a result, some passengers who are used to a bus coming close to their homes are going to be walking more to get to their routes.

“We know that people will be inconvenienced and convinced no matter what we do in the end,” he said. “There are people who will be happy and there are people who won’t be happy. It’s not going to be a perfect system that services everyone because we’re limited to our current resources, the number of hours or miles that we operate now.”

Carolyn Wright was among the attendees. The 68-year-old has no car or driver’s license and has used the bus to get around her whole life. She said bus service is vital for both her and her daughter, Latonya, to get where they need to go, especially to their jobs. She works as an usher for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, a job that takes her either to the college’s campus or to the downtown Stevens Center.

Wright lives on West 14th Street. She currently has convenient Saturday service and has to walk to Cherry Street for a Sunday bus. The new routes change that and she’ll need to cross a busy University Parkway to catch the weekend bus. She said she hoped the routes stayed the same.
“I think they should leave the routes just as they are and not change anything,” said said. “I understand adding some routes, maybe cutting routes out, but make it convenient for everybody, the elderly, the handicapped, the disabled.”

Laurie Coker said she was hoping to see more bus service than is currently proposed. She’s director of GreenTree Peer Center and she said many of the people who use the center’s services, which focus on recovery and wellness, don’t have their own transportation. She provides many rides to help get them to the center because of how long it can take them to use the bus. She said the new proposed transfer points around the city will help, but she’s hoping to lobby the City Council to increase the WSTA budget so it can expand service.

“We’re going backwards as a city if we do not focus on letting people get from place to place, because if you don’t have a way to get from one place to another, you feel trapped,” she said.

The proposed routes can be viewed by going to and clicking on “Proposed Route Changes.” Passengers can leave comments using “Contact Us” on the website.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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