Less others, more us

Our nation is in need of change. The change needed is in people’s lives less fear, more understanding, and an expanded vision of the common good.

While some changes can occur at an individual level — I am going to exercise more, I am going to volunteer more, etc. — many changes in people’s lives will require changes in policy — legislation, ordinances, practices, standards, and policies at all levels of government.

I believe that policy changes require changes in culture — that is, the belief and activity “system” or mindset that is prevalent on a topic. Cultural changes emerge from increased understanding, empathy, and willingness to confront what may be an uncomfortable reality, often about the plight of some members of our society.

So, how do we gain or accelerate that shared understanding?

My belief is that we need more shared experiences – and that at this time in our community’s and nation’s journey, we must be purposeful in advancing ways to increase those shared experiences.

One way for us to immediately and significantly expand the number of shared experiences is by expanding access to zero fare transit in our region.

The regional business community has been pushing for expanded zero fare transit for everyone for more than two years. This spring, we launched a study to examine possible zero fare pilot options in our region.

Currently, all seniors, all youth, and all university systems, and indeed everyone using Chapel Hill Transit, enjoy zero fare service. This not a “new” concept for our market, just a desire to bring zero fare to even more people.

Zero fare advances equity by removing the physical, financial, and mental barriers to considering or using transit. Zero fare also helps the environment, whether you use transit for every trip or not.

Further expanding zero fare in our region would provide greater mobility, accessibility, and economic opportunity — for everyone.

In communities with zero fare, including Chapel Hill, ridership has increased significantly—typically 25% or more—meaning more people are benefiting from the community’s investment in transit, and more people are sharing in a common travel experience.

An expansion of zero fare for everyone in the Triangle will create more shared travel experiences. More opportunities to engage, to learn, to listen, and to literally and figuratively travel the journey together.

While expanding zero fare can make an immediate impact, it is imperative that the transit system we are increasing access to provides meaningful, high-quality service for all of our communities.  RTA is funding a regional FAST network study – in concert with GoTriangle and NCDOT, and building on the ongoing efforts of all area transit partners – to create an interconnected network of rapid, frequent, reliable, and easy-to-use bus service.

RTA studies on expanding zero fare and implementing a regional Freeway And Street-based Transit network are well underway. Preliminary recommendations on zero fare pilot options as well as potential regional FAST routes will be released by next month, and the regional business community looks forward to where they could take us.

In order to form a more perfect union, the nation needs “less others, more us.”  An expansion of zero fare for everyone, and improving regional transit overall, can help build that union by bringing more of us together across our beloved Triangle.

Let’s get moving,

Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director


RTA is the voice of the regional business community on transportation

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