Nov 18

No More Magstripe Paper Passes – Use by end of 2019!

Posted on November 18, 2019 at 1:41 PM by Brooke Kochanski

NoMoreMagstripe-small-02Starting January 2020 PART will no longer accept 31-Day, 10-Ride, or Regional Fare Cards that are paper passes. No Refunds.

Download the
TouchPass App or visit the CTC to get a TouchPass Smartcard to purchase passes, use stored value, and save money using PART Rewards

Give us a call or email if you have any questions!
336-883-7278
Contactus@partnc.org


Nov 13

How is PART Funded?

Posted on November 13, 2019 at 2:01 PM by Brooke Kochanski

Did you know that an average daily commute from Greensboro to Winston-Salem and back could cost the typical driver nearly $700 a month in gas, maintenance and insurance?

If that same driver were to take a PART Express bus every day to work, that same commute would cost only $80 per month.

So how is the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) — a not-for-profit government agency — able to offer such remarkable savings and discounts to riders in the Triad? How do we offer more than a dozen PART Express routes, Vanpool discounts and more at such competitive rates?

To answer that question, we have to “peek under the hood” and learn a bit more about how PART is funded. You might first think of the fares we collect for each PART Express or Vanpool ride. That is certainly the most recognizable way that folks pay for our services on a daily basis.

But in reality, the money collected from fares (known in the biz as “Fare Box Recovery”) does not typically account for more than 15-20% of our total budget deficit. In fact, that money typically reduces the amount of State and Federal funds and grants that contribute toward the cost recovery.

Revenue 2019 annual report

Essentially, there are various funding sources available from State and Federal governments that contribute towards funding agencies like PART. But each fund source is specific to a purpose, and they typically require the agency requesting those funds to be able to offer up their own matching funds — to show they’re serious about using that grant money to improve the public services they provide to their communities.

The $2.50 fare we charge for PART Express routes goes a long way towards making sure we’re able to compete for those grant dollars at the local level. Both Federal and State agencies have formula fund programs. Some are a part of an annual budget, and some are competitive grants on an annual basis. For all of these fund sources a local match is needed.  If you don’t have the local funds you can’t tap into the federal or state funds.

Our Vanpool program, for example, which helps co-workers from across the Triad save money by commuting together, is made possible through a 50/50 “matched” grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). These funds are used for the administrative functions to manage the program, and hence; a savings that doesn’t get placed on the end user.

Outside of those bus fare box revenues, the PART agency has three local fund sources as approved by the North Carolina legislature:

  • 5% U-drive it vehicle (rental car) fee
  • DMV vehicle registration fees – in dollar increments up to $8
  • 5% Local Sales/Use tax (Voter referendum) – Not active

The 5% rental fee — what’s known as a “U-Drive-It” tax — takes effect whenever someone rents a vehicle from an Enterprise, Hertz, etc. This kind of tax is common across many states and cities, and in our case, helps form a basis for our overall funding. There are several counties in the PART territorial jurisdiction who have this in place including Guilford, Forsyth, Davidson, Alamance, and Surry Counties.

Another funding source is the assorted fees you see when you have to renew your vehicle registration with DMV every year. These fees can range from $1 up to $8, and while that may not seem like a lot, they go a long way towards helping provide financial stability here at PART. Randolph County currently is the only county who has put this into place with $1 registration fee.

Taken all together, these local fund sources make up the majority of how PART is funded. Thanks to these resources, we are able to apply and receive Federal funds and State funds. In essence, this represents 25% of total revenue with Federal funds, 16% of state funds, and the remaining amount of local funs to operate 16 routes across the Triad. Providing important connections to Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point, not to mention Mount Airy to Lexington to Asheboro and even Chapel Hill.

Although we’re providing the best service we can based on the funds available, we know there is more of a need. Not just for expanding and enhancing PART but for our partner agencies that provide critical connections in their cities. The local dollars leverage the state and federal dollars.

So, what can we do? When PART was created back in 1997, the NC Legislature authorized our organization to have the ability to implement a county-wide sales referendum that would empower the voters to approve a half-cent sales tax in Guilford and Forsyth counties and a quarter-cent sales tax in some of our more rural counties. Although a small portion of these funds would be used by PART to enhance our services, the majority of these local funds would be used to leverage additional federal and state funds; but more importantly used by our local communities to enhance all forms of transportation in their jurisdictions. That includes improving transit for our partner agencies, building sidewalks in our neighborhoods, developing safe routes to school for our children, and more.  It’s a decision made by the public. The public's decision for the future.

Have more questions? Feel free to reach out at contactus@partnc.org or 336-883-7278!


Oct 10

Why Public Transit Benefits Everyone

Posted on October 10, 2019 at 8:09 AM by Brooke Kochanski

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It goes without saying that public transit is very near and dear to our hearts at the PART Agency. While it’s not our only activity managed here at PART, it takes up a large portion of our efforts and attention. For many who use our PART Express bus routes or Vanpool program on a daily basis, we are an integral connection to other parts of the Piedmont Triad community. Many of these riders understand the benefit that public transit can play in our lives because they live that reality every day.

But for people who have never utilized PART services, or any other public transportation service; they may struggle to recognize the benefits of a public transit system that doesn’t directly impact their lives. More specifically, when the issue of using federal, state and local funds (i.e. your tax dollars) comes into question.

So in order to expand the knowledge of how important and beneficial public transit can be for a community like the Piedmont Triad, we’ll start by breaking the equation down into two key parts: 1) the financial benefits to riders, and 2) the short and long-term economic impacts on the region as a whole.

Using PART can result in any number of savings for our riders. To begin, there is the amount of money you save on fuel costs even if you only take the bus once or twice a week — especially for longer distance commuters. We have been fortunate to enjoy lower gas prices in the past few years, but there is no control in managing the price of fuel at a global level, or how long those prices will remain low.  Based on AAA statistics it cost 46.4 – 61 cents per mile to operate your personal vehicle.  Compare that to the cost of a single ride bus fare, and you can immediately see the cost savings.

Public transit allows you to greatly reduce the overall wear-and-tear on your vehicle. Driving a automobile to and from work 5 days a week — with all of the starts and stops, turns, and mixed road conditions that exist — can exert quite a toll on your vehicle. When you use public transit to take those daily work trips, you are extending the overall life of your vehicle, as well as increasing the length of time between costly oil changes, repairs, and needed tires.

Another recurring cost that is usually overlooked is the price for insurance premiums and parking fees.  And though many of these costs may seem nominal, when taken as a whole, you are likely spending more on your daily commute using a car than you might think.

(Want to find out just how much? Check out our free Commute Calculator to see exactly how much you could be saving by using PART Express or Vanpool.)

So this much is clear: riding public transit can save you money. And most people like to save money. But how does that benefit the economy at large?

Simply put, every dollar saved by a public transit rider is another dollar that can be put back into the economy. If you’re saving $150 every month on commuting, that’s a $150 extra dollars that you may use to go out to a nice dinner, take your family to the movies, or go shopping at your favorite boutique. This sets in motion what our Executive Director Scott Rhine refers to as “economic cycle”:

“The economy — whether that’s here in the Triad, statewide or nationally — is stronger when a dollar has more opportunities to cycle between businesses,” he says. “As a society we strive to become financially stable, and with every new opportunity to save money; our savings open up new ventures on how we spend money.  Call it the vacation we have only dreamed of, or becoming a home owner versus home renter.  The money we can save by utilizing public transit yields an economic benefit for the cycle of our dollars we now spend for what was not there before.” Rhine explains.

This reality underscores the notion that even people who don’t ride public transit benefit from the service. The savings it generates for its riders mean there is more money to be put into other businesses, and all of society can feel the effect of the overall yield in savings.

The connection between public transit investments and their economic benefits is so strong in fact, that
a study by the American Public Transportation Association found that for every $1 spent on public transit, there are approximately $4 generated in economic returns.

In addition to the economic benefits, there are also health benefits not to be overlooked. In 2018, PART helped remove around 1,900 cars a day from our roadways; which equates to over 20 Million miles of single occupancy travel in our region.  Helping to reduce congestion, and the traffic congestion frustration we all experience. A stressful commute has been found to cause anxiety and even impact your blood pressure. High blood pressure is known to be a leading contributor to heart disease; one of the top three causes of death for adults in the United States.  

Improvements in our local air quality are also a huge benefit of public transportation.
Studies have shown that bus systems like PART Express “emit only 20% as much carbon monoxide per passenger mile as compared to a single-occupant auto.” Those reductions can go a long way towards reducing illnesses associated with polluted airways, such as chronic bronchitis, increased asthma complications and more.

For both riders and non-riders alike, the benefits of a robust public transportation system can do wonders for our collective lives. From the economic benefits both big and small, down to improved mental and physical health due to better, less polluted roadways, public transit isn’t just about moving people from one location to the next. It’s a vital piece of a larger mobility network, and the more we invest into it, the greater our communities will be.

PART has been connecting communities in the Piedmont Triad since September of 2002. For the past 17 years we’ve been dedicated to serving the community with quality transportation that enhances our region. Visit our
About Us section to learn more about PART and our history. We would invite you to join our email list to keep up with What’s Happening at PART, simply email contactus@partnc.org to join.

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