CONCORD and KANNAPOLIS – Concord Kannapolis Area Transit (known as Rider Transit) has announced several changes and enhancements coming to the system, starting in late fall 2012 and continuing through winter 2013. Rider Transit Manager L.J. Weslowski presented the enhancements to the Concord and Kannapolis City Councils for final approval during their October meetings, after the Concord Kannapolis Transit Commission gave the initial go-ahead in September.
“These enhancements are will bring our excellent service to the next level,” said Weslowski. “We look forward to implementing the improvements over the next fourteen months as our system continues to grow.” Most of the capital improvements will be funded primarily by Federal Transit Administration dollars and grant funding, with a local cost of twenty percent split by the Cities of Concord and Kannapolis.
The biggest news is about the cornerstone of the transit system – the fleet of ten 35-foot buses and two Light Transit Vehicles (LTVs). The system was started in 2004 with the purchase of eight 35-foot Gillig Low Floor heavy-duty buses. One of the criteria for replacing aging buses with new ones is how many miles each vehicle has on it – in the case of transit buses, that number is 500,000 miles. Rider Transit’s original eight buses are on pace to hit that mark in the spring and summer of 2013. As buses reach that half-million mileage mark, the cost of maintenance and the amount of time they are down for repairs increases dramatically.
Rider Transit is excited to announce the purchase of eight new hybrid-electric buses from Gillig, Inc., to replace the aging fleet. Not only will these buses be new and modern, they will also cut down on polluting emissions and will reduce fuel consumption by approximately 25 percent annually. Delivery of the eight new buses is expected at the end of 2013.
Shelters are an oasis for passengers looking to
get out of the pouring rain or beating sun, and having a place to sit while waiting for the bus is an even nicer feature of most transit shelters. There are currently ten shelters located throughout Concord and Kannapolis, and Rider Transit plans to purchase and install ten new bus shelters in the first quarter of 2013. The new shelters will be split in both communities served by the system, bringing the total number of shelters to ten in Concord and ten in Kannapolis. New shelter locations include the Cabarrus Health Alliance, Logan Community, Kannapolis YMCA and Senior Center, Starbucks/Carolina Mall, and CMC-NorthEast.
Security is a critical part of keeping a transit system safe and accessible, and lighting is one
of the most effective ways to improve security. Current bus shelters in Concord and Kannapolis do not have lighting, making them less than ideal for early-morning or late-evening passengers. The system plans to install solar-powered lighting in all existing and new shelters, to provide a more comfortable experience. For stops in less developed areas without shelters and little light from other sources, Rider Transit will install twenty solar-powered security lights. These easy to install lights will be programmed to come on automatically just before service begins each morning, and will light locations until after service hours each evening.
Rider buses have included on-board video and audio surveillance systems since the 2004 system launch, and have helped make a trip on Rider more comfortable. However, in the rapidly changing digital age, the now nine-year-old surveillance system is outdated and becoming cost-prohibitive to maintain. The old camera systems will be replaced with new systems containing twice the cameras on each bus and several other enhancements to keep Rider Transit safe and secure.
Perhaps one of the most exciting enhancements for passengers is the addition of wireless internet access to the entire Rider Transit fleet. Passengers will be able to connect to free Wi-Fi hotspots on every Rider vehicle beginning mid-December, 2012. Now, passengers will be able to be more productive and connected to friends and family while on-board.
To help keep passengers updated, new bus system and schedule information will be added to all 246 stops across the system. These display cases will provide passengers map, service, and customized schedule information at each stop, answering the most common question a passenger has – “when will the bus be here?”
Speaking of questions, one of the most common requests for service from passengers is to run on Sundays for access to church services, shopping, and employment opportunities. Rider Transit is looking forward to beginning Sunday service on October 6, 2013. Sunday service will follow the Saturday schedule, running from 8:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.
In addition to the many planned service enhancements, Rider’s everyday expenses related to the new Transit Center, fuel, and other operating costs have increased significantly over the last few years. To help address these costs, effective November 1, the base fare will change from $1.00 to $1.25, and the reduced fare will change from $0.50 to $0.60.
To benefit passengers, the system will also add a new seven-day unlimited ride pass option (in addition to keeping the 31-day unlimited ride pass) for $12 ($6 reduced fare). Rider Transit will phase out the old ten-ride paper punch pass, and introduce electronically-coded ten-ride passes for a cost of $10 ($5 reduced fare). This will make boarding the bus easier and faster, and eliminate the mess created from operators hole-punching the current paper passes.
Rider Transit planned these service enhancements during a record-setting period of passenger growth. Eleven of the last fourteen months have set ridership records, and in 2012 the system is on pace to exceed its 2011 ridership total of 414,535 passengers trips by almost 50,000. “We hope to continue to improve our service and attract even more people to Rider,” said Weslowski. “Every day, new people discover the affordable convenience of Rider Transit, and we hope you are the next one.”
To try transit, visit ckrider.com
to find the nearest stop, or drop by the Rider Transit Center located at 3600 South Ridge Avenue, where the customer service staff can help plan your first trip. They can also help you over the phone at 704-920-RIDER (7433). In-person or over-the-phone customer service is available 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on Mondays, 7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays (customer service is closed each day between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.).
About Rider Transit:
Ten buses with an eye-catching bright green and royal purple paint scheme travel the city streets of Concord and Kannapolis. Rider has seven routes that depart and arrive at the Transit Center located at 3600 S. Ridge Avenue, Concord. All buses are ADA accessible.
In addition to providing service to many local neighborhoods, the system carries passengers to and from many of the more popular venues in Cabarrus County. The buses also stop at many of the area’s major employers allowing employees the flexibility of taking public transportation rather than cars.
Buses run from 5:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays.