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Transit plans between Rolesville, Wake Forest may include Uber, buses, vans

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WAKE FOREST — Rolesville and Wake Forest are looking at adding new transit options to connect the two towns.

The Rolesville-Wake Forest Transit Study identified three alternatives to enhance transportation options for people in the eastern Wake Forest and Rolesville areas. All three options meet performance standards to apply for the Wake Transit Plan’s Community Funding Area program, said Ray Boylston of RLS & Associates, the group commissioned to perform the study.

Uber partnership

The first option is a partnership with Uber. Residents could call an Uber car with a special code, and the transit agency would subsidize $4. Anything over that would be paid by the rider.

The average Uber trip in Rolesville is $8, Boylston said. Riders would not be able to use the code for anywhere outside the microtransit zone between Rolesville and Wake Forest.

“We wouldn’t have been able to put this together as an alternative if I hadn’t been able to talk to the southeast account executive for Uber. They are hard to get in contact with,” Boylston said. “They have shown some interest in it.”

Uber has similar partnerships in larger metropolitan areas with light rail or rapid bus transit lines. People get off the public transit system and use Uber to get the rest of the way home.

Uber drivers typically respond quickly within 15 minutes or so, officials said. However, Uber cannot be relied on for Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant accessible vehicles.

At least one GoWake Access passenger van would have to be included in this option.

“You would pay more for this alternative, but you’ll have a more responsive service,” Boylston said.

People without a smartphone would still have to call GoWake Access to arrange pickup.

This alternative would be available Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., at a cost of $45 per service hour. Boylston predicts four trips per revenue hour.

After fare revenues, this option will cost the transit authority $9.41 per trip.

The study showed an “ample amount” of Uber drivers in the area. As much as 80% of nonaccessible transportation could be provided by Uber drivers. However, the drivers would not be serving only customers in the Rolesville and Wake Forest areas.

Commuter bus

The second option is a commuter bus that will connect the 401X with the Wake Forest Loop with about eight stops. Commuter routes do not have to provide ADA-compliant accessible buses, which saves a transit authority up to 40%, according to Boylston.

GoWake Access will provide accessible passenger vans for those who need it.

The route would start at Rolesville Town Hall with a 401x connection. Then the bus will head down Main and Young streets and through Granite Falls and the Grande at Granite Falls before heading down Rogers Road to a connection with the Wake Forest Loop near the Sheetz on Franklin Street in Wake Forest.

Since the commuter bus would use the Sheetz parking lot to turn around, the transit authority would need to negotiate with the company. Riders would also have to cross the street to reach the Wake Forest Loop bus stop; however, the sidewalks are in good condition in that area, Boylston said.

“We had several people say they wanted us to connect the Loop with the 401 Express because (the 401) offers service to North Wake Tech’s campus,” Boylston said.

GoRaleigh would run the buses, which would operate Monday through Friday at a cost of $85 per service hour. Boylston predicts six trips per revenue hour.

The bus would arrive every 21 minutes, and a one-way trip would cost $1.25. After fare revenues, this option will cost transit authority $12.92 per trip.

Passenger vans

The third option is two dedicated passenger vans operating within a microtransit zone. GoWake Access would provide two accessible passenger vans that could hold at least seven people, Boylston said. These vans would operate only within the microtransit area. If riders wished to travel to elsewhere in the county, they would have to use the regular GoWake Access vans.

Riders would have to call beforehand, and it could take up to an hour for a van to arrive. However, this is faster than the 24-48 hours required now.

The vans would run Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at a cost of $45 per service hour. Boylston predicts four trips per revenue hour.

A one-way trip would cost $2. After fare revenues, this option will cost transit authority $9.25.

Boylston is still soliciting feedback from the Wake Forest and Rolesville governing boards and citizens of both towns. He plans to go before the boards in July or August with results from the survey.

Then, the boards will decide which alternative to pursue. If the plan is approved, it would be funded in the 2021-22 budget.

The towns are hoping to receive funding from the Wake Transit Plan’s Community Funding Area program.