Thanks to some help from Duke's new GoPass, local Triangle Transit riders are seeing an enhancement to the Durham-Raleigh Express (DRX) bus route.
Earlier this month, Triangle Transit added a second bus to cover the route that takes passengers from Duke's West Campus and Health System to downtown Raleigh. The new bus will feature a headsign labeled "Special" and will only leave at 5:09 p.m. Monday to Friday from the stop at Fulton and Elba streets before going directly onto the 147 South to Raleigh's District Drive park-and-ride lot. It will not return for a second trip.Read More
"We've seen more people getting on the bus to the point where we're regularly having 10 to 12 people standing on the whole ride," said John Tallmadge, director of Triangle Transit's commuter resources. "We're here to offer a helpful service to people, so having too many people interested in riding is definitely the kind of problem we like to have."
Tallmadge noted that the DRX route has seen more riders because of typical seasonal demand from the spring and summer, higher gas prices and the use of the GoPass, a free local and regional bus pass offered to Duke staff and faculty. The GoPass is available to employees whose offices are on East, West, Central and Medical Center campuses; the American Tobacco Campus; or within one-half mile of the East, West, Central or Medical campuses (see eligibility map). All undergraduate, graduate and professional school students are eligible.
GoPass allows for unlimited rides on DATA, Triangle Transit, Capital Area Transit and C-Tran, the town of Cary's transit service, at no charge. About 4,600 GoPasses have been handed out to Duke community members by Parking and Transportation Services.
"People definitely want to spend less money on gas, meddling with parking and trapped behind the wheel and the GoPass is Duke's way of achieving that," said Brian Williams transportation demand coordinator. "By riding the bus, I'm saving about $110 per month in gas and permit costs, plus I get an hour back each day to relax since I don't have to drive."
Among Duke's newest GoPass users is Cathy Watson, a staff assistant at the Duke Divinity School who takes the DRX route back and forth to work each day between Durham and Raleigh. She said the new bus will be a big help to riders because she's noticed overcrowding.
"Since I started riding the bus it's been getting full to the point where, quite frequently, people have decided to sit on the floor or stand up the whole ride," she said.
Watson said she started riding the bus because it allows her to relax and read or take care of work before reaching her office in the Gray Building. She's been using a GoPass since picking one up on Sept. 6.
"I love the fact that it's free and paid for because it's added value to my job since I don't have to spend any extra money on buying a pass," Watson said. "It's a great bonus."
Tallmadge said that a second DRX bus will remain a part of the route as long as ridership demands it. He added that Triangle Transit will reevaluate rider numbers this winter to determine whether or not the extra bus should remain on the route.