No Bus in Burlington
By David Hodges
City of Burlington officials will meet this Friday to discuss the possibility of bringing a fixed-route bus system to Burlington. The issue has long been debated in the community, the largest in North Carolina without a bus system.
“It would be easier for me, not having a car, to have that bus,” said Diane Wheller, who is staying at the shelter at Allied Churches.
Wheller just finished setting an appointment for herself at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Graham to get a local license. She gets there by taking a ride in the Allied Churches van, which offers to drive its residents to important appointments.
“If it wasn’t for Allied Churches and those who donated the transportation to Allied Churches, I’d probably be doing the same old thing again,” said LaTony Galloway.
The same old thing for him is going in and out of jail. But his new thing is working on getting his GED at Alamance Community College. He says the walk from the shelter to the community college would be too far to make, which is why he relies on the Allied Churches van.
But some are left with little choice but walking, even when it’s bad for their health. Humverto Santilan has a badly bruised calf and a broken ankle he says he suffered during work. Many of his appointments at the open door clinic take place after the van stops running for the day, so he is faced with only one option.
“It was a painful walk, painful, and it worsened when I walk,” Santilan said. “It worsened the swelling and it gives me more trouble. Everywhere else I go there is public transportation, I don’t know what’s wrong here.”
According to the 2011 Alamance County Community Assessment the lack of public transportation is the reason for a lot of what is wrong in this community. The report shows that nearly a fifth of the students at Alamance Community College didn’t enroll in a course because of difficulties with transportation. Health care professionals cited transportation as a missing link to making service available to everyone, while 19 major employers in Burlington said public transportation is the number one issue when it comes to transportation in the area.
Burlington City Councilman Steve Ross said he realizes the need is there, but the problem is money.
“It’s quite expensive and we recognize that as we go forward that some of the funding sources that are there now are probably going to go away in the future,” Ross said.
Ross is looking towards some of the surrounding towns and cities to provide help. Because of the close proximity of most of the communities, a bus route would almost have to include places like Graham and Gibsonville to be successful. Ross says he hopes that the county government will realize this and aid in funding a project.
“We have to be fair to our taxpayers within Burlington,” Ross said.
Alamance County Commissioner Tom Manning says that Burlington and other municipalities need to put more of a plan together before the county can get involved.
“We would be a part of this,” Manning said. “But I’m not sure what relative roles the county would take in relation to the municipalities until we see how much it would cost, is there interest and support from the municipal governments to get that done.”
But the feeling on the Allied Churches van is that money is there for a bus route and that elected officials just aren’t listening to their concerns.
“They don’t care because they just drive in their fancy cars,” Wheller said.
Ross said that he is sensitive to the issue of public transportation and that their concern is not unheard. But for now he says that public safety spending, specifically on two new firehouses will have to come first.Explore posts in the same categories: News