Of North Carolina’s six largest cities, only Fayetteville does not offer public transportation service on Sundays.
Even the smaller cities of Asheville and Wilmington provide bus service on the Sabbath. The Fayetteville Advisory Committee on Transit has recommended that City Council begin limited Sunday service, but City Manager Doug Hewett did not include it in his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Overall, bus ridership has declined over the past year, reversing a growth trend. Charlotte and Greensboro have also seen declines. “We believe our ridership has been impacted by low gasoline prices,” said Transit Director Randy Hume.
In their continuing support of transit service, several City Council members told Hewett they would like to see Sunday service worked into the new budget. Transit Director Hume suggested that initial service on the Sabbath include 10 bus routes. He said the advisory committee considered bus ridership on Saturdays to project likely Sunday use. A study found that 1,241 patrons would likely ride buses on Sunday compared to 3,244 Saturday riders. Average ridership weekdays is 5,816, said Hume.
Sunday service, even in an abbreviated format, would require four-and-a-half months of preparation if approved by City Council. Additional operators, supervisor time and maintenance staff would be required, said Assistant Transit Director Kelly Blazey.
“We will need time to get through the hiring process, provide training, update our printed materials, hold any necessary public meetings regarding the changes and advertise the changes,” she added. FAST estimates it would cover 34 weeks of service in FY18. On an annualized basis, officials estimate total costs for limited bus service on Sundays would be nearly $336,000 with $152,000 funded by passenger fares and grants. The remaining $183,00 would have to come from the general fund. And, $30,000 could be shifted from operating grants to provide additional support for Sunday service. If approved by City Council, buses would run on the following routes:
Route 3 Cedar Creek Rd.
Route 5 Ramsey St.
Route 6 University Estates / Bragg Blvd. / Cross Creek Mall
Route 7 Savoy Heights / Robeson St. / Raeford Rd.
Route 8 Southern Ave. / Owen Dr. /CFV Med Ctr.
Route 12 Murchison Rd. / University Estates
Route 14 Downtown / Eutaw / Cross Creek Mall
Route 17 West Fayetteville / Cliffdale Rd.
Route 18 Skibo Rd. / Hollywood Heights
Route 15 Cross Creek Mall / Glensford Dr. / CFV Med Ctr.
Times will vary by half an hour or so from route to route, but would be available from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. And FASTtrac transit service would be available on all of the above routes.