Although Fuquay-Varina’s population is growing at a fast clip—about 4 percent annually—some residents say their ride to work in downtown Raleigh has gotten less stressful as they are no longer fighting traffic themselves.
Jeanne Flynn, who commutes to her job at Wake County Information Services, says since she started riding the Fuquay-Varina–Raleigh Express bus rather than driving her car, she has gained more personal time. Now she drives her car for three minutes from her house to a park-and-ride lot, then rides the bus to about a block from work.
“I have only been riding the bus since last fall,” she says. “Before that I hadn’t taken the time to realize how easy and convenient it was. I can use my commute to read, get a jump on emails or do paperwork. The commute by car takes about 35 minutes, if I leave by 7 a.m. The bus trip from the time I leave my house until I get back to work takes about an hour, maybe a little less. So there is slightly more time because we need to stop and pick up people, or drop them off . . . but it’s time I can use to be productive rather than just sitting in traffic.”
Besides catching up on work, other benefits of her new ride include socializing with people, reducing the wear-and-tear on her car, saving gas and reading for pleasure.
The Fuquay-Varina–Raleigh Express bus and the park-and-ride lot are just some of the many benefits Wake County residents will experience through collaborations between cities, towns and Wake County as the Wake County Transit Plan moves ahead. Originally funded through a N.C. Department of Transportation grant designed to help alleviate congestion caused by the Fortify construction project on Interstate 40 and Interstate 440, the route was created as a temporary solution set to expire in June 2017. In order to support convenient access to the route for commuters, the Town of Fuquay-Varina built a park-and-ride lot located by the town’s Community Center and South Park.
Paula Seldes, assistant clerk of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, says the Fuquay-Varina–Raleigh Express is both a stress-buster and a money-saver. Although her door-to-door commuting time is now longer than when she used her car, she says she actually prefers to take the bus.
“The reason I like using the bus service is I was finding the driving stressful—due to increased traffic on my commute from Fuquay-Varina on 401, my drive had become stressful,” she says. “One day I was driving in the dark and rain, and I saw the bus and I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to drive anymore!’
“I use my time to read or to chat with other riders. My commute when I drove took around 40 minutes, more in bad weather. Now, it is a longer day. The morning actual driving/riding time is 40 [minutes] on the bus, plus I have a 10-minute walk to my office, [the] Dobbs Building on North Salisbury; plus, I get to the bus stop a few minutes early. But I gladly take that extra time—I’m more relaxed when I get to work as I haven’t had to worry about driving and changing lanes et cetera—especially in the winter when it is dark.”
Seldes says perhaps the most important reason she takes the bus is the cost. “The state subsidizes the ticket price, and I’m saving gas and wear and tear on my car. My roundtrip was 39 miles. Now, it’s 8 miles roundtrip.”
The Fuquay-Varina–Raleigh Express bus route has helped many Fuquay-Varina residents by reducing their commuting costs, agrees Jim Seymour, the Town of Fuquay-Varina’s Economic Development Director. He says the route has also increased residents’ access to employment, healthcare and educational opportunities, and improved their quality of life.
“For residents who do not have direct access to personal transportation, this service has filled their transportation void by providing a low-cost, efficient transportation service,” he says. “For those residents who do have access to a personal transportation and want to reduce their transportation out-of-pocket costs, this service has reduced typical transportation costs—travel time, operating costs and parking facility costs. For some households, it offers the opportunity to lower the cost of vehicle ownership by transitioning from a two-vehicle to one-vehicle household.”
The route gives residents greater access between two different job markets, he says. “For those who do not have use of a personal vehicle, this service has helped to increase employment throughout Fuquay-Varina. The bus service’s direct connection to the downtown Raleigh market provides greater job opportunities.”
Riders also gain a low-cost way to access Raleigh/Durham’s world-renowned community college system and research universities, he says. The Fuquay-Varina route will continue to be an option for commuters as it is included in the Wake Transit FY 18 Draft Work Plan, which lays out funding for early improvements to the 10-year Wake Transit Plan. Over the decade, the transit plan promises to make commuting options even more convenient, with a tripling of countywide bus service, an expansion of routes running every 15 minutes or less and new bus rapid transit and commuter rail systems. Accessibility will be enhanced with a transit stop within three-quarters of a mile of 54 percent of the homes and 80 percent of the jobs in Wake County.