W. Brian Hiatt has served as Concord's City Manager since 1998. He came to Concord from Hickory where he served as Assistant City Manager for over 10 years. Brian holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in History and Government Service from Appalachian State University where he was a summa cum laude graduate, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Active in the community, Brian is a Past President of the Academic Learning Center and continues to serve on that Board. He is on the Board of Directors for the Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation and the Water and Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County. He currently serves as Chairman of the Cabarrus County United Way, his second time serving in that role. Brian served as the Chair of the United Way Campaign in Cabarrus County in 2002. He is a Past-President of the Concord Rotary Club, where he was named Rotarian of the Year
in 2012, and the Lake Hickory Rotary Club. He is also a former board member of Hospice of Cabarrus County. He is a Past President of the North Carolina City and County Management Association, having served as President in 2012-13, and has served on several committees supporting the International City and County Management Association. Brian was a member of the Board of Directors of the NC League of Municipalities from 2004 through 2008 and now serves on its General Government Legislative Action Committee. . Brian is married to Julie, and they have two grown children, Andrew and Erin.
Celebrating ten years of Rider Transit
There is more good transportation news in Concord. Residents are certainly aware of the many local and state-funded road improvement projects, and the initiation of commercial airline service at Concord Regional Airport. We also need to take time to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Rider Transit system, which began operation in April of 2004.
Rider is a partnership between Concord and Kannapolis, with the Federal Transit Administration providing grant funds to support operations and capital needs. Rider has provided many citizens with needed reliable transportation for daily activities such as going to and from work, shopping, accessing medical facilities, and more. The service started with six weekday routes in 2004 and was expanded to seven in September 2008 with the addition of the Brown route. Saturday service began in April of 2006, and with Sunday service launching this past October, Rider now operates seven days each week.
System infrastructure and technology have also improved over the last decade. The Rider Transit Center, in a strategic location for Concord and Kannapolis, opened in November 2010, enabling routes to be redesigned to be more efficient and provide even better service. That same year, buses were equipped with an automated vehicle location system, and electronic fare boxes using smart card technology. The system is now in the process of expanding the number of bus shelters along routes, and equipping them with solar lighting units. Free Wi-Fi is available for passengers, too.
System improvements, the additional route, and weekend service have certainly helped to increase ridership. In 2004, the pace was 189,306 rides per year. Today, that number has increased to 448,000 and continues to climb. In fact, Rider will serve its four millionth passenger later this year.
2014 has brought another major improvement. The original eight buses have been replaced with diesel-electric hybrid models. The system is already benefitting by saving money due to the great fuel economy provided by these vehicles.
While infrastructure and facilities are important, safe and reliable service is the most important factor for passengers. We are very proud that Rider has received the North Carolina Public Transit Association's award for “Outstanding Performance in Traffic and Passenger Safety" two years in a row. This recognizes Rider Transit as the safest urban/regional/small fixed route system in the state, the best among systems traveling 999,999 miles or less each year.
While the system has improved over the past ten years, Concord and Kannapolis continue to grow and urbanize. There is no doubt transit needs will grow and change. The Rider Transit Commission, made up of representatives from both cities, is in the process of working with staff to evaluate a draft Transit Development Plan completed early this year after months of analysis and public input. The final recommendations will eventually make their way to the City Councils and will provide an essential roadmap for service development and delivery over the next ten years.
Thank you to Transit Services staff, as well as the First Transit team and its predecessors for ten great years of helping Concord and Kannapolis live, work, and play. If you have not used this convenient and economical service before, I encourage you to try transit. You can get started at ckrider.com