Even though it’s his day off, Channing Gallimore is up early and waiting for his bus on Wendover Avenue in Greensboro.
Gallimore gets on Bus 1 and heads to the downtown bus depot. Bus riders have to connect at the depot to get elsewhere in the city. Buses arrive at the depot every half hour.
He said the process of having to take a bus downtown is frustrating.
“Maybe you gotta go 10 minutes up the street, then you end up having to go all the way to the depot and going back out,” he said. “That 10 minute trip is really going to take you about an hour.”
Gallimore isn’t alone in his feelings. About 200 other bus riders share his frustrations, according to a survey by the advocacy group Working America.
Working America Calls For Changes To Bus System
Working America advocates for progressive policy issues on behalf of workers. They’re asking Greensboro’s city council to make changes to the bus system.
Organizer Catherine Walton-Ward said in the six years they’ve been in Greensboro, transportation has always come up as an issue with the people they talk with.
“Somebody shouldn't have to be trying to get to work for two hours, work for eight hours and then have to take another two hours just to get back home,” she said. “They're losing a lot of family time.”
Bus riders surveyed by Working America said the main changes they want are: shelters at every bus stop, more connector routes, and longer hours of operation.
Making Changes Takes Time
But making changes isn’t a simple task. Councilwoman Sharon Hightower, who also serves as the Greensboro Transit Authority liaison for the council, said changing schedules could mean changing bus stop locations.
“If we move the buses to areas where we can continue to have steady flow and be more efficient, you'll get to where you're going quicker, but you may have to walk a little further,” she said.
Greensboro has a 2040 mobility plan to map out how transportation in the city can be more efficient and rider-friendly in the future.
The city recently approved a contract with a new private company to manage the bus and transit system. Hightower hopes they can make changes to routes that won't affect their current transportation budget.
“When you start to add it all up we could use another, $10 million in our budget," Hightower said.
The budget is $23 million.
Bus Riders Want Longer Hours
The Greensboro Transit Authority has 16 routes that goes from 5:15 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Saturdays buses operate from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sundays, only seven routes run.
Channing Gallimore works at Walmart and he’s also a rapper. He said when his shift is over at 11 p.m., he sometimes isn’t able to make it in time to catch the last bus.
“Personally, I vote for 24 hours,” he said. “I know it would probably cost the city, but Greensboro is a growing city.”
Councilwoman Hightower said any changes they make to routes or schedules have to make sense.
“If you've got a bus with nobody on it, then why are you running that particular bus?”