Chapel Hill Transit

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Chapel Hill Transit logo.png
2008-07-11 Chapel Hill bus passing South Building.jpg
Founded 1974
Headquarters 6900 Millhouse Road, Chapel Hill, NC
Service area Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and UNC
Service type bus service, paratransit
Website Transit, Town of Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill Transit operates public bus and van transportation services within the contiguous municipalities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the southeast corner of Orange County in the Research Triangle metropolitan region of North Carolina. Chapel Hill Transit began operation in August 1974.[1] Total ridership, including fixed route, EZ Rider and Shared Ride Feeder service, for fiscal year 2015 was almost 6.5 million ridership.[2]


In the early 1970s, the Public Transportation Study Committee was formed, consisting of representatives from the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and UNC. The committee then received a Federal Urban Mass Transit Administration grant to examine the suitability of a permanent transit system. Town voters approved a $350,000 bond referendum for local match for capital and a $.10/$100 valuation ad valorem tax to support transit operations.[1] Chapel Hill Transit began operations in August 1974 as a department of the Town of Chapel Hill government. Prior to Chapel Hill Transit, the UNC Student Government operated a campus shuttle system from 1968 until 1974. The Transit Director reports to the Town Manager, who is responsible to the Town Council. A citizen advisory committee, the Transportation Board, makes recommendations to the Town Council on transportation and traffic issues.[1] A plan adopted by the Town Council in 1977 included a set of transportation goals which specifically encourage transit over automobile use in the central areas of Chapel Hill.[1] Although the transit system is operated by the town of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC are financial partners in the operations.[1] System expenses are allocated based upon population. Carrboro began purchasing transit services in the fiscal year 1977-1978 with revenue sharing funds. In the fall of 1980, Carrboro approved a $.10/$100 valuation ad valorem tax to pay for transit service.[1] In fiscal year 1980–1981 the Carrboro contract first included the EZ Rider.[1]

Chapel Hill Transit, Average Daily Ridership, 2002-2016
Digitized signs showing the estimated arrival times of buses.

In 1992, Chapel Hill Transit teamed up with the Triangle Clean Cities Coalition and Ebus, a California company that manufactures electric buses, to demonstrate a 22-passenger bus that promised cleaner air and reduced dependence on foreign fuels.[3] This vehicle demonstration followed an earlier one arranged by the Public Transportation Division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. In the earlier demonstration, a Transteq hybrid bus was transported from daily use in Denver, Colorado, and made available for test drives on the Chapel Hill Transit lot. In February 2006, K. Stephen Spade, a former Des Moines Metropolitan Transit Authority employee, was hired as the transportation director for the Town of Chapel Hill.[4] In August 2006, Chapel Hill Transit announced that their buses will be equipped with GPS tracking devices, allowing the bus riders to check the arrival time of the buses using the internet and their cell phone. The project was completed by NextBus Inc..[5] Fourteen bus stops would also have digitized signs showing the estimated arrival times of buses.[6] These signs were controversial, as the cost of installing them was almost $1 million.[7] In September 2006, Chapel Hill Transit announced plans to buy begin purchasing hybrid buses. The town planned to buy as many as nineteen new buses: three hybrids, several extra-long and the rest standard size.[8] In October 2006, the Chapel Hill Town Council approved the purchase of sixteen new Chapel Hill Transit buses at a cost of $5.8 million from Gillig Corp. Federal grants provided about $5.2 million, and the town provided approximately $600,000 in local funds. Three of these sixteen new buses run on diesel-electric drivetrains. The rest of the buses are mostly powered by Detroit Diesel series 50 engines. The buses, delivered in July 2007, were expanded the system and replaced older buses. The town had an additional $1.7 million in federal funding which was sufficient to purchase four 60-foot Articulated buses, each with two sections that allow them to flex in the middle. All of the purchased buses were low-floor buses with interior floors at curb level.[9]


The Chapel Hill Transit system consists of over 20 weekday routes, of each around one third run during evenings and Saturdays.[1] Three late night, "Safe Ride routes" operate on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on three routes when the university is in session. Chapel Hill transit currently owns 98 buses and 11 lift-equipped vans.[1] The basic hours of operation are from early morning to evening. Eight Park and ride lots are also available. Connections to other local transit systems, Orange Public Transportation and Triangle Transit Authority are available.[1]

All fixed routes and special service routes are fare free. The Tar Heel Express charges a $3 one way and $5 round trip fee for use of their park and ride lots.[10]

The Shared Ride Feeder service is available for passengers from areas that do not receive regular bus service.

Route List[edit]

No. Route
A Martin Luther King Blvd/Northside
B Clockwise Loop South Road to Mason Farm via Raleigh Rd.
CCX Chatham County Express
CL Colony Lake-Sage Rd/UNC Hospitals
CM Carrboro/Merrit Mill Rd
CPX Carrboro Plaza Express
CW Carrboro/Weaver St
D Culbreth Rd/Franklin St/Eastowne
DX Eastowne Express
F Colony Woods/Franklin St
FCX Friday Center Express
G Booker Creek/Briarcliff via University Place
HS Chapel Hill High School/Rogers Rd/Downtown
HU UNC Hospital/Hwy 54 Park and Ride
J Carrboro/Downtown/Jones Ferry Rd
JFX Carrboro/Jones Ferry Express
N Estes Park/UNC Hospitals
NS Eubanks Rd/Southern Village
NU UNC Park and Ride/UNC Hospitals
PX Pittsboro Express
RU South Campus/Law School
S South Campus/Hwy 54 Park and Ride
T Martin Luther King Blvd/UNC Hospitals
U UNC/Downtown
V Southern Village/Meadowmont

Bus Rapid Transit[edit]

Chapel Hill Transit is planning to build an 8.2 mile North South Bus Rapid Transit (NSBRT) to run from the Eubanks Road Park & Ride lot (a northern terminus) and the popular Southern Village (the southern terminus) and points in between. Projected cost of $125 million ($15 million per mile) with 70% Federal funding, to commence passenger service in 2022 and projected 12,000 daily trips (in 2040) with an annual operating cost of $3.4 million.[11]

Proposed BRT Stations:

  1. Eubanks Park&Ride
  2. Weaver Dairy Road
  3. New Parkside
  4. Northfield
  5. Piney Mountain
  6. Estes
  7. Hillsborough
  8. Franklin
  9. Cameron
  10. Carrington Hall
  11. Pittsboro / Credit Union
  12. Manning / East
  13. Jackson Circle / Mason Farm
  14. NC 54
  15. Culbreth
  16. Southern Village Park&Ride

EZ Rider service[edit]

A free "EZ Rider" service provides a demand-responsive transit service for the handicapped and elderly that are unable to use the regular fixed route service.[1] The service operates from morning to evening on weekdays and on Saturdays.

Tarheel Express[edit]

Express bus service is provided for each North Carolina Tar Heels home football and basketball game as well as most concerts at the Dean Smith Center for paying riders.[1] Service begins one and a half hours before the scheduled start of an event, and return trips begin immediately after each event and continue for approximately half an hour.

Bike and Ride program[edit]

The free Bike and Ride Program permits bus riders to bring their bicycle along on the bus. Special racks, with a capacity of two bikes, are mounted on the front of the buses.[1]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]