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Chapel Hill Transit

Chapel Hill Transit operates public bus and van transportation services within the contiguous municipalities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the southeast corner of Orange County in the Research Triangle metropolitan region of North Carolina. Chapel Hill Transit operates its fixed route system fare free due to a contractual agreement with the two towns and the university to share annual operating and capital costs.

Chapel Hill Transit logo.png
2008-07-11 Chapel Hill bus passing South Building.jpg
Headquarters6900 Millhouse Road, Chapel Hill, NC
Service areaChapel Hill, Carrboro, and UNC
Service typebus service, paratransit
WebsiteTransit, Town of Chapel Hill


In the early 1970s, during the administration of Chapel Hill Mayor Howard Nathaniel Lee, the Public Transportation Study Committee was formed, consisting of representatives from the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and UNC. The committee then received a Federal Urban Mass Transit Administration grant to examine the suitability of a permanent transit system. Town voters approved a $350,000 bond referendum for local match for capital and a $.10/$100 valuation ad valorem tax to support transit operations.[1] Chapel Hill Transit began operations in August 1974 as a department of the Town of Chapel Hill government. Prior to Chapel Hill Transit, the UNC Student Government operated a campus shuttle system from 1968 until 1974. The Transit Director reports to the Town Manager, who is responsible to the Town Council. A citizen advisory committee, the Transportation Board, makes recommendations to the Town Council on transportation and traffic issues.[1] A plan adopted by the Town Council in 1977 included a set of transportation goals which specifically encourage transit over automobile use in the central areas of Chapel Hill.[1] Although the transit system is operated by the town of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and UNC are financial partners in the operations.[1] System expenses are allocated based upon population. Carrboro began purchasing transit services in the fiscal year 1977-1978 with revenue sharing funds. In the fall of 1980, Carrboro approved a $.10/$100 valuation ad valorem tax to pay for transit service.[1] In fiscal year 1980–1981 the Carrboro contract first included the EZ Rider.[1]

Chapel Hill Transit, Average Daily Ridership, 2002-2016
Digitized signs showing the estimated arrival times of buses.

In 1992, Chapel Hill Transit teamed up with the Triangle Clean Cities Coalition and Ebus, a California company that manufactures electric buses, to demonstrate a 22-passenger bus that promised cleaner air and reduced dependence on foreign fuels.[2] This vehicle demonstration followed an earlier one arranged by the Public Transportation Division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. In the earlier demonstration, a Transteq hybrid bus was transported from daily use in Denver, Colorado, and made available for test drives on the Chapel Hill Transit lot. In February 2006, K. Stephen Spade, a former Des Moines Metropolitan Transit Authority employee, was hired as the transportation director for the Town of Chapel Hill.[3] In August 2006, Chapel Hill Transit announced that their buses will be equipped with GPS tracking devices, allowing the bus riders to check the arrival time of the buses using the internet and their cell phone. The project was completed by NextBus Inc. Fourteen bus stops would also have digitized signs showing the estimated arrival times of buses. These signs were controversial, as the cost of installing them was almost $1 million. In September 2006, Chapel Hill Transit announced plans to buy begin purchasing hybrid buses. The town planned to buy as many as nineteen new buses: three hybrids, several extra-long and the rest standard size. In October 2006, the Chapel Hill Town Council approved the purchase of sixteen new Chapel Hill Transit buses at a cost of $5.8 million from Gillig Corp. Federal grants provided about $5.2 million, and the town provided approximately $600,000 in local funds. Three of these sixteen new buses run on diesel-electric drivetrains. The rest of the buses are mostly powered by Detroit Diesel series 50 engines. The buses, delivered in July 2007, were expanded the system and replaced older buses. The town had an additional $1.7 million in federal funding which was sufficient to purchase four 60-foot Articulated buses, each with two sections that allow them to flex in the middle. All of the purchased buses were low-floor buses with interior floors at curb level.

Fixed Route ServiceEdit

The Chapel Hill Transit system consists of 24 weekday routes and 9 weekend routes. 5 of the weekday routes are considered express routes and area designated with an X, with the exception of route 420. The basic hours of operation are from early morning to evening. Connections to GoTriangle, Orange County Transportation Authority, and PART are available. Each fixed route vehicle is equipped with a bike rack mounted on the front of the bus with capacity for two bicycles.

3 "Safe Ride" routes operate on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings when the university is in session.

A Senior Shuttle route operates weekdays making 7 stops each hour, in a loop, to destinations in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The Senior Shuttle route uses alternative vehicles to accommodate passengers with restricted mobility.

Chapel Hill Transit operates a "Tar Heel Express" special event shuttle service for UNC Football and Men's Basketball home games, in addition to special events. The shuttles provide continuous and fully accessible service, running every 10 to 15 minutes between the park and rides and Kenan Memorial Stadium or Dean E. Smith Center.

All fixed routes and special service routes are fare free. The Tar Heel Express charges a $3 one way and $5 round trip fee for rides.[4]

The Shared Ride Feeder service is available for passengers from areas that do not receive regular bus service.

Route ListEdit

Weekday RoutesEdit

Designation Route
A Martin Luther King Blvd/Northside
B Baity Hill/UNC Hospitals
CCX Chatham County Express
CL Colony Lake/Sage/UNC Hospitals
CM Carrboro/Merritt Mill Rd/Family Medicine
CPX Carrboro Plaza Express
CW Carrboro/Weaver St
D Culbreth Rd/Franklin St/Eastowne
FCX Friday Center Express
F Colony Woods/Franklin St/McDougle School
G Booker Creek/UNC Hospitals/Glen Lennox
HS Chapel Hill High/Martin Luther King Blvd/Southern Human Services
HU UNC Hospitals/NC 54 Park & Ride/Hedrick Building
J Carrboro/Downtown Chapel Hill/Jones Ferry Rd
JFX Jones Ferry Road Express
N Estes Park/UNC Hospitals/Family Medicine
NS Eubanks Rd/Southern Village
NU RR Lot/UNC Hospitals
S UNC Campus/NC 54 Park & Ride
T Martin Luther King Blvd/UNC Hospitals
U/RU UNC Campus
V Southern Village/Meadowmont
420 Hillsborough/Chapel Hill (in conjunction with Orange County Transportation Authority)
N/A Senior Shuttle

Weekend RoutesEdit

Designation Route Service Days
CM Carrboro/Merritt Mill Rd/Family Medicine Sat
CW Carrboro/Weaver St Sat
D Greenbridge/University Place/Eastowne Sat
FG UNC Campus/Glen Lennox/Colony Woods Sat
JN Estes Park/Rock Creek Sat
T East Chapel Hill High/Varsity Theater Sat
V Southern Village/Meadowmont Sat
NU RR Lot/UNC Hospitals Sat, Sun
U UNC Campus Sat, Sun

Safe Ride ServiceEdit

Designation Route
J Varsity Theater/Rock Creek/The Villages
G Varsity Theater/Finley Forest/Meadowmont/Glen Lennox
T Varsity Theater/Westminster/Chapel View

Tar Heel Express ShuttlesEdit

Location Football Men's Basketball Post Game
Friday Center 3 hours prior to game start 1.5 hours prior to game start 45 min
Airport Drive/UNC Facilities Lot (103 Airport Dr) 3 hours prior to game start 1.5 hours prior to game start 45 min
Southern Village 1.5 hours prior to game start 1.5 hours prior to game start 45 min
Jones Ferry Road 1.5 hours prior to game start 1.5 hours prior to game start 45 min
Downtown Chapel Hill (Carolina Coffee Shop) No Service 1.5 hours prior to game start 45 min


A fare free "EZ Rider" paratransit service provides a demand-responsive transit service for the handicapped and elderly that are unable to use the regular fixed route service.[1] The service operates from morning to evening on weekdays and on Saturdays. Advanced reservations and enrollment are required.[4]

Park & RideEdit

Chapel Hill Transit operates 4 Park & Ride lots throughout Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Parking fees are $2/day and can be paid using an on-site meter or the Parkmobile app. Monthly and annual permits are available for $21/month and $250/year. The University of North Carolina operates 5 other Park & Ride lots. Permitting for these lots is administered through the university's Commuter Alternatives Program (CAP) Office. UNC's Park & Ride lots are for UNC Employees and Students only; no public/daily parking is available. UNC Park & Ride permits are honored in all Chapel Hill Transit Park & Ride lots.[4]

Chapel Hill Transit Park & Ride LotsEdit

Lot Location Served By Parkmobile Zone
Eubanks Road On Eubanks Rd, 1/2 mi west of MLK Jr Blvd NS, CRX (GoTriangle) 8801
Jones Ferry Just south of Old Fayetteville Rd and Jones Ferry Rd CM, CW, JFX 8802
Carrboro Plaza Behind Carrboro Plaza at Hwy 54 and W Main St CPX, CW 8803
Southern Village Just off US 15-501 South NS, V 8804

UNC Park & Ride LotsEdit

Lot Location Served By
Friday Center Friday Center Dr and NC 54 FCX, HU, S, V
MLK Jr Blvd 725 MLK Jr. Blvd G, NS, T
NC 54 East Friday Center Dr and NC 54 HU, S
Chatham County US 15-501 near Old Lystra CCX
Hedrick Building Friday Center Dr and NC 54 HU

Bus Rapid TransitEdit

Chapel Hill Transit is planning to build an 8.2 mile North-South Bus Rapid Transit (NSBRT) to run from the Eubanks Road Park & Ride lot (a northern terminus) and Southern Village (the southern terminus) and points in between. The route follows NC 86 (MLK Jr. Blvd.) from the northern edge of Chapel Hill into downtown, then follows Columbia St through the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill, and continues along US 15-501 to Southern Village. The proposed route is based on the NS route which consistently has the highest ridership of all routes. Projected cost is $96-105.9 million with $50-75 million provided by federal funding, to commence passenger service in 2022 and projected 12,000 daily trips (in 2040) with an annual operating cost of $3.4 million. The NSBRT will run every 8 minutes during peak hours and every 10-20 minutes in off-peak hours. The existing NS bus route is expected to be replaced by the NSBRT. Along most of the corridor, NSBRT will operate in dedicated lanes.[5]

Proposed BRT StationsEdit

  1. Eubanks Park & Ride
  2. Weaver Dairy Road
  3. New Parkside
  4. Northfield
  5. Piney Mountain
  6. Estes
  7. Hillsborough
  8. Franklin
  9. Cameron
  10. Carrington Hall
  11. Pittsboro / Credit Union
  12. Manning / East
  13. Jackson Circle / Mason Farm
  14. NC 54
  15. Culbreth
  16. Southern Village Park & Ride

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Town of Chapel Hill, NC. Transportation Archived September 8, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved September 8, 2006.
  2. ^ Hybrid-electric Bus Offers an Alternative to Air Pollution and Foreign Oil in Chapel Hill
  3. ^ Town of Chapel Hill - Town Manager Announces New Transportation Director Archived July 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c Chapel Hill Transit (2018). Rider Guide. Town of Chapel Hill.
  5. ^ Chapel Hill Transit (2018). "NSBRT - General Public FAQ".

External linksEdit