On Tuesday night in Chapel Hill the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to expand bus services in Orange County over the next five years.
Orange County Planning Director Craig Benedict presented details of the five year expansion to the board.
“We will be talking about, roughly, seven routes that we’ll be able to put into operation in the spring of next year after we receive some buses,” said Benedict.
Orange Public Transportation, which serves rural areas of the county, will coordinate with Triangle Transit Authority and Chapel Hill Transit.
The county plans to add bus service from Cedar Grove to Chapel Hill and Hillsborough. Efland will also be connected to Hillsborough.
Full sized Buses cost about $450,000 each. Benedict said the county will buy small, 20-passenger buses for the expanded service. “Our buses are really only about $75,000 total a piece,” said Benedict.
The bulk of the money will come from the one-half cent sales tax increase and vehicle registration fee that voters approved in 2012. The county started collecting this money in April 2013. The county estimates the expansion will cost between $100,000 and $500,000 each year for the next five years.
Benedict said the county will gather data on how many people are using the buses. He said routes and schedules will be adjusted to ensure efficient use of the buses.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/orange-county-increase-bus-services/
CHAPEL HILL – Launch Chapel Hill is accepting applications for the Winter 2014 Accelerator program through November 22.
The program, designed to build successful start-ups, runs 22 weeks from January 6 – June 6, and kicks off with a three day accelerator boot camp. Two information sessions will take place to inform people about the applications process and tour the space. The first will be held on Monday, October 28, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the second will be on Tuesday, November 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
For more information click here.
The Orange County Public Library has announced that Friends of the Carrboro Branch Libraries will host its annual book sale on November 2 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and November 3 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at McDougle Middle School.
Proceeds from the sale allow Friends of the Carrboro Branch Library to support library programs and purchase material.
Hardcover Books – $1
Trade and regular paperback books -$0.50
DVD’s and CD’s – $1
Coffee Table and Specialty books – as priced
VHS Tapes – FREE
Sunday Bag Sale – $3.00
For more information call Linda Browner at 919-969-8145.
During the evening of October 31, Chapel Hill Transit will end service early on the D, J, NS, and NU routes.
Due to the Franklin Street event on Halloween, safe ride buses will operate from 11:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. along detoured routes. No buses will operate from the park and ride lots to the Halloween celebration.
For more information click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/launch-chapel-hill-book-sale-chapel-hill-transit/
CHAPEL HILL – The Orange County Public Library will celebrate Halloween this year by hosting a variety of fun activities and events.
All the events that the OCPL will host are free to the public, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend. The first event, Countdown to Halloween, takes place on Monday October 21 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the OCPL main library.
The library will screen the world premiere of the Teen Murder Mystery 2013 Film, and hold an after-party including a costume contest, zombie mayhem, and Halloween trivia. For more information click here.
Chapel Hill will begin its annual leaf collection on Monday October 21 and continue through late February. Residents may place loose leaves and pine straw that is free of debris behind the curb or drainage ditch for pick-up.
Crews will not pick up yard waste that is placed in plastic bags since they are often not compostable. Instead residents may use 30-gallon paper bags, leave piles, rigid containers, or roll carts available through Public Works Department.
Pick-up for yard waste will be on Thursday for residents who have Monday garbage service, and Friday for residents with Tuesday garbage service. For more information you can click here.
Chapel Hill transit Safe Ride will not operate on Friday and Saturday this weekend, due to fall break.
The Safe Ride will operate on Halloween from 11:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. along detoured routes. The Safe Ride will not serve downtown Chapel Hill but will have stops near downtown. For more information click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/ocpl-celebrates-halloween-leaf-collection-safe-ride/
CHAPEL HILL- Each weekday morning, 17,000 Chapel Hillians leave town to go to work, while 40,000 drive in. With only 7,000 who work near where they live, many residents are subject to long commutes, traffic and air pollution.
At Thursday’s forum hosted by the Sierra Club and the local Chamber of Commerce, candidates for Chapel Hill Town Council weighed in on how to address the “in-and-out challenge.”
George Cianciolo said he’d like to see more people live and work in Chapel Hill.
“For the 17,000 that are driving out we need to create more jobs so that they can have jobs here and don’t need to leave,” said Cianciolo. “For the 40,000 that are driving in, we need to make housing more affordable here so they can afford to live here.”
But Loren Hintz said many will continue to commute.
“We have institutions that employ a lot of people, and to house everyone we might have to be twice the size of Cary,” said Hintz. “So I think it’s really important to focus on the transportation issue.”
Ed Harrison said if he’s re-elected, promoting transit would be one of his top priorities.
“Keep working and working and working on transit at every level: regional, local and neighborhood,” said Harrison.
Given that half of the eligible voters in Chapel Hill are between 18 and 24 years old, moderator D.G. Martin asked the candidates what they would do to better serve the young adult population.
Paul Neebe said he’d focus on better bike routes and greenways.
“I think that we need to make sure that the town is safe for people bicycling and walking,” said Neebe.
Amy Ryan agreed, saying she’s seen firsthand the shift away from cars as a primary mode of transportation.
“I have one of those anecdotal non-driving 20-year-olds that you hear about,” said Ryan. “Watching her try to get around town and to get to jobs and back and forth to school it is quite a challenge, so I think better bike routes, better greenways and better bus systems.”
D.C. Swinton said many young people leave the area because they can’t find affordable housing.
“We also have to make sure to have affordable housing for them when they get out of school because they may not get the most high-paying jobs in Chapel Hill and will have to leave and go somewhere else,” said Swinton.
When it comes to connecting with young voters, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said elected officials just need to reach out.
“One of the things we need to do is be engaged with then and not just assume we know what they want and come up with some sort of prescription,” said Kleinschmidt. “It’s frustrating.”
An audience member asked the candidates what Chapel Hill should do to help the homeless once IFC’s emergency shelter shifts to a transitional housing program.
Sally Greene said at the moment, the town has no plan.
“The town, as far as I know, does not have a plan for this,” said Greene. “I’m the representative to the homelessness partnership in the county and I think this is a conversation we need to have.”
Gary Kahn suggested that local houses of worship could offer space for shelter.
“Make use of the various churches, synagogues and other centers to help the homeless,” said Kahn.
Maria Palmer said she’d like to see UNC partner with the town to provide mental health services for those in need.
“Mental health and addiction problems are big and we are not putting in the resources we need,” said Palmer. The university and the hospitals need to help us. We need to do more and I think we can do more. “
If you’d like to see the full forum, it will be rebroadcast on the People’s Channel later this month.
Early voting runs October 17 through November 2. Election Day is November 5.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/town-council-candidates-discuss-chapel-hills-in-and-out-challenge/
CHAPEL HILL –The new permanent director of your local transit system, Brian Litchfield, says he’s ready to take on his role and provide better service than ever to bus riders across the town.
Litchfield says he learned a lot during his ten months as interim director, and he’s humbled and honored that the Town Manager determined that he would be the best person for the position.
Without the combined effort of its 235 employees, though, Litchfield says Chapel Hill Transit would not have the quality of service it has today.
“Many times, when people think about transit, they think about large buses and bus drivers, and that’s incredibly important, but there are a number of other employees that work for us that help either fix buses or fuel buses or clean buses that are all part of the service that we call Chapel Hill Transit,” Litchfield says.
An important aspect to public transit systems throughout the country—much like any company—is funding, and Litchfield says he plans to incorporate a strategic and sustainable financial planning process to our own transit system, which has grown to become the second largest in the state.
Part of the budget for Chapel Hill Transit is a result of an increase in the sales tax in vehicle registration fees, which were approved by the voters of Orange County.
“We’re beginning to see, as early as this month, service improvements to our local service as a result of that,” Litchfield says.
Litchfield says getting a grasp on what can be done as far as funding of Chapel Hill Transit will be the starting point for any other changes to the system.
“Once we have a good plan in place there, we’ll be in much better shape to begin addressing other areas,” Litchfield says.
Before working in Chapel Hill, Litchfield was the chief development officer for the Des Moines Regional Transit Authority in Des Moines, Iowa.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/chts-new-director-on-new-challenges/
CHAPEL HILL – Director of Chapel Hill Transit, Brian Litchfield, says changes are coming to local bus routes just in time for the start of school.
“Many of our routes that were on detour as a result of the South Columbia project will be coming off detour at that time,” Litchfield says.
Also, due to new funds from the Orange County bus and rail investment plan, the bus route will be able to extend its evening times year-round.
“Right now, when UNC would not be in service, whether it was on a holiday or throughout the summer, some of our evening and late night service on many of our routes throughout the community would go away,” Litchfield says. “There’s significant demand for those services, we’ve just not had a way to finance that.”
Litchfield says funding public transportation is always a challenge, but with coming budget cuts, he says the department is working hard to find alternate methods of funding.
“That’s one of the reasons why we’re undertaking strategic financial plans: to begin to look at different ways that we could perhaps finance things, not looking at state and federal resources as the only area or a major area of funding for us,” Litchfield says. “We know that that’s likely going to continue to decrease.”
Litchfield, previous the interim director of CHT, was announced as the new director on Tuesday.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/cht-to-change-routes-times-starting-august-19/