Commuters urged to try out public transit

Posted September 28, 2009 6:33 a.m. EDT
Updated September 28, 2009 11:00 a.m. EDT

— This week, the Triangle will show off what officials and users believe is a well-kept secret for reducing stress and saving the environment: public transit.

"Try Transit Week" is an annual campaign by Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA), Cary Transit (C-Tran), Capital Area Transit (CAT), North Carolina State University's Wolfline and Triangle Transit.

Weeklong events include free-fare days, a food drive, scavenger hunt and appreciation days for riders and operators.

Users touted public transportation as a stress-free way to navigate Triangle traffic.

"When you get to the office, you're refreshed, ready to go, without having to fight the frustration of the drive in every morning," bus rider Scott Poole said.

"I actually get to work on time. I'm not stressed about getting to work late," said Kristine Otte, who commutes in a Triangle Transit van with 12 other people. "I actually get home on time and can cook a good, decent dinner every night."

Most riders said they save about $100 a month by using public transportation.

"I can put $25 in my gas tank, and it can last two weeks," bus rider Sharrell Macklin said. "A lot of people can't say that. So I will be riding the bus forever if I can."

Energy officials said the cumulative effect of mass public transit benefits the environment.

"Instead of a 10-mile personal commute, you can save about 10 percent off your carbon footprint a year," Progress Energy spokesman Drew Elliot said.

Ridership on all five transit systems increased by double digits in the 2007-2008 fiscal last year. Triangle Transit recorded an all-time high of more than 1 million trips in that year.

Transportation officials said that as more people use public transportation, more convenient routes will be added.

For now, transit users said they think they've found a deal.

"It's the best-kept secret in town as far as I'm concerned," Poole said.