Closing bus routes send loyal Johnston County riders looking for alternatives
Posted April 21
The good news: The Fortify project is scheduled to be finished this year.
The bad news for some Johnston County commuters: They're losing special bus service the DOT created just to deal with Fortify congestion.
GoTriangle says relatively few people have used the Johnston County Express line between Cleveland and downtown Raleigh over the past few years.
A few people, though, use the line every day.
Evan Barnette works at Red Hat and doesn't miss navigating congestion on Interstate 40.
"Having a bus that helps you work around that a little bit, or even just so that you're sitting there and not having to drive in it, is a huge help," Barnette said.
Their days on the bus are numbered, though. The bus line, along with one from Clayton, is set to close after June 30.
The DOT funded the lines as part of the Fortify project, but as Fortify winds down, so does the state's money for the bus routes.
"We immediately jumped on it and talked to the Johnston County commissioners to see what our options are," Barnette said.
Johnston County Manager Rick Hester said keeping the bus line open isn't as easy as it might sound—the county can't pay for it.
"I just haven't seen a model that works in Johnston County, when you get down to cost and logistics," Hester said.
The closing of the bus line doesn't mean the county is ignoring transit, Hester said.
"We want to be at the table for future planning because it will be a factor in this county one day," Hester said.
Barnette and her fellow bus riders hope as the Triangle grows, so will their transit options in Johnston County. For now, though, these commuters are thinking about life without the bus.
"We're still figuring out what we're going to do," Barnette said.
GoTriangle said the cost to keep those two Johnston County routes running would be about $700,000 per year.
Another Fortify bus route, which runs between Fuquay-Varina and Raleigh, will continue as part of the Wake Transit Plan.