The waiting | News Feature | Indy Week
Pin It

The waiting 

Stories from Durham buses

Earlier this year, Durham's DATA bus system began operating a new $18 million transportation center, replacing the cramped and ramshackle station on Morgan Street. Now, finding your bus is remarkably easy, say regular riders Glenn Permar and Joe Kreger, who are both blind.

Last year, DATA logged 5.1 million trips—compared to 7.5 million in Chapel Hill, where buses are free, and 4.6 million in Raleigh. (Durham and Raleigh bus fares are $1 a ride or $2 for a day pass; Raleigh's new R-Line is free.) As people try to keep their fuel costs down and become more environmentally aware, they may choose to ride the bus, but most ride out of necessity.

Above the clatter of a diesel engine on the No. 10, Jabari McCleland says DATA "gets me where I need to be." This is a common response from riders when asked how well the transit system is working for them, but the real question is: How hard are riders working for the system?

"I try and come one or two hours earlier, just in case a bus breaks down," said McCleland, who was on his way home from a job at Food Lion. McCleland said that he has had the bus break down on him four times.

"I know people who've lost their job riding the bus," said Temeka Wilkins, a mother of four who's been riding the bus to work at KFC since her car broke down two months ago. "If a bus is running behind, you can miss a transfer and then you'll really be late [to work]."

DATA has encountered problems with engines due to issues from the manufacturer, DATA spokesperson Ieshia Robertson said. "We have had some road failures in the last month. As with any vehicle, there can be unexpected mechanical problems."

There is room for a wheelchair underneath a bus stop shelter along Hillsborough Road, but the posts are mounted flush with the curb. This prevents handicapped riders from wheeling underneath it, so Joseph Emory waits outside, as passing car lights shine off his red motorized wheelchair. He criticizes DATA for the lack of functioning handicap ramps on buses. "One time I waited for three different buses before they had one that worked."

Robertson said older buses have lifts, which can accommodate only certain sizes and weights of wheelchairs. Newer buses have ramps, which are compatible with all wheelchairs.

Bus driver Christina Lucas has never seen anything like DATA "Look here," she said, shaking the loosely mounted fare machine on the No. 10 bus. "I can tell this bus is way out of alignment and the equipment is really outdated," said Lucas. Before moving to Durham, Lucas was a bus driver in Grand Rapids, Mich., where the buses were newer and thoroughly cleaned every night. Another driver complained that there is not enough money to fix persistent problems with the buses, which run 18 hours a day, Monday through Saturday, and 13 hours on Sundays.

With $3.2 million in stimulus funding, DATA plans to add benches, shelters and real-time passenger information and replace some paratransit vans.

In a May Council meeting, Durham City Councilman Mike Woodard said, "None of the elaborate plans for light rail and other mass transit will work until we enhance our bus service and make it transportation of choice, not just chance."

More by D.L. Anderson

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News Feature



Twitter Activity

Comments

What would Jesus do? Hed support John who fights the hypocrisy of the Far Rights religiosity and hateful rhetoric.

by fritzzzz on How Raleigh’s John Pavlovitz Went from Fired Megachurch Pastor to Rising Star of the Religious Left (News Feature)

An update in 2018:

Last year a close friend of mine adopted a kitten from Goathouse who is absolutely …

by Fireflytamer on The truth about the Goathouse Refuge (News Feature)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

What would Jesus do? Hed support John who fights the hypocrisy of the Far Rights religiosity and hateful rhetoric.

by fritzzzz on How Raleigh’s John Pavlovitz Went from Fired Megachurch Pastor to Rising Star of the Religious Left (News Feature)

An update in 2018:

Last year a close friend of mine adopted a kitten from Goathouse who is absolutely …

by Fireflytamer on The truth about the Goathouse Refuge (News Feature)

Rich - I have provided a sound argument. The problem is, you don't have a defense because I'm right. I'm …

by For Real??? on They Hate Racists. They Love Assault Rifles. Meet Redneck Revolt. (News Feature)

For Real - -
These are words the Left love and abuse - Race, Hate and bigotry, because you have …

by Rich Seibert on They Hate Racists. They Love Assault Rifles. Meet Redneck Revolt. (News Feature)

Rich - I'm not taking shots at you, I'm must being honest. What is your problem with the left? If …

by For Real??? on They Hate Racists. They Love Assault Rifles. Meet Redneck Revolt. (News Feature)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation