Burlington discusses routes, fares for public bus system

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- After almost 10 years of discussions and research, last night the Burlington City Council made concrete moves to bring a public bus system to Burlington.

The council members voted unanimously to fund the bus system, in part, by imposing a vehicle tax on each Burlington resident, which would require him or her to pay $5 for each car he or she owns.

Burlington Transportation Manager Mike Nunn said that is an idea the city got because that is how many other cities in North Carolina fund their public bus systems.

Nunn said the estimated yearly cost for the buses is $800,000. He said $200,000 of that will come from the vehicle tax, $400,000 will come from a federal grant, and the remaining $200,000 will be paid from city funds. Nunn said the public transit system is not intended for the city to make money. Instead, it's a public service.

"The success will be when people use it and it changes their lives, enhances their lives, to be able to do something they couldn't do before. And just to add to what Burlington offers as a community."

Tentatively, city plans are to have four buses running at any given time on four different routes.

"It would of course go to the hospital, ARMC, the shopping areas at University, we're going to go into East Burlington, the shopping areas there, the Walmarts, the service agencies," Nunn said.

One of the routes will also go to Gibsonville.

Nunn said the city will not purchase or drive buses of its own. Instead, it will contract out to a bus company in the area. Which one has not yet been determined.

Nunn said the city expects the bus system to start in summer 2016.

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