GoTriangle rider weighs in on our transit woes.
In 2019, according to the GoTriangle FY 2021 Annual Bus Service Performance Report, the average number of weekday riders was 7,512. The pandemic impacted daily ridership, dropping the weekday average to 3,936 in 2021. Throughout 2022, I usually took the bus from Downtown Raleigh to the Durham Station three times per week—and have witnessed a gradual return to ridership.
For many, the bus is their only transportation for work, social services, doctor visits and more. Unfortunately, we’ve seen multiple bus line disruptions—whether canceled services or no-shows. My inbox would fill up almost daily with notifications of canceled routes, leaving myself and other riders scrambling to find other ways to get home or to the next destination.
While GoTriangle worked toward solving these issues, many riders were concerned about impacts on their schedules, lack of communication, and headlines touting new buildings and routes while current services needed to be addressed. Besides digital transmissions, information was hard to come by—and often came as a surprise, leaving many frustrated, constantly thinking their voices weren’t being heard over all the talk about what new things were coming.
In some instances, unfortunately, these even had tragic results. On one occasion, one of my fellow daily travelers boarded a later bus, trying to muffle his sobs as he got on, after the first was canceled. When I asked if things were OK, he replied this would make him late again and likely cost him his job. I didn’t see him on the commute the following week. We should address these challenges before we have more photo opps with buildings and ceremonial shovels.
I applaud the efforts of GoTriangle to navigate these difficult waters. At the same time, I believe they should pay equal attention to what transit users have to say about how this impacts their lives. Instead, when I ask fellow riders, the response is often: “No one talks to us,” or, occasionally: “They said this is just the way it is.”
The future success of our transportation programs strongly relies on the riders and the services the city provides. And hosting public meetings to discuss changes/request public opinion during daytime hours eliminates many riders’ opportunities to attend.
Our growth will continue to climb for years to come. While we plan for and celebrate these milestones, I hope everyone will be able to provide their voice and experiences to the process. Onward and upward, Raleigh.