Less Than Half of North Carolina’s Community Colleges Are Transit Accessible

By Abigail Seldin, Matthew Crespi, and Ellie Bruecker

Today, we released our SHSF Public Transit Map for North Carolina! This is the first of 50 interactive state maps that show which community colleges have public transit stops within walking distance — and which ones are still waiting for the bus. As we’ve shared previously, the state maps include all branch and satellite campuses for community and technical colleges.

So what did we find out about the “first in flight” state?

More than half a million North Carolina residents attend community and technical college across 207 campuses, but only 48% have transit stops within walking distance. An additional 17% — or 35 campuses — are less than five miles from an existing transit stop, but not yet connected.

That does not mean, however, that students at the remaining schools are completely out of luck. Particularly in rural areas, North Carolina has many small paratransit services, transportation offerings without fixed routes and stops. These range from an old fashioned “dial a ride” where riders schedule trips in advance, to more sophisticated solutions that use software to dynamically route transit vehicles. Many of these services receive state support, but the scale, resources, and reliability are not yet enough to consider these dependable options for a large number of students needing to adhere to strict schedules. Still, some rural students may find these invaluable, and as more populous areas invest in improving their fixed-route transportation networks, we hope paratransit systems continue to grow their capabilities as well.

SHSF’s interactive North Carolina map, additional data and methodology are available at www.shsf.pub/NC. The issue brief’s authors are Dr. Matthew Crespi, Dr. Ellie Bruecker, and Abigail Seldin.

We’re grateful to our partners in North Carolina and in the broader transit community for their support and assistance with this project. The North Carolina Community College System has been innovating on transit access for years, and we were thrilled to learn about their investments in student support. Thomas Stith III, president of North Carolina Community College System offered a statement in support of our launch, stating “The mission of the North Carolina Community College System is to open the door to high-quality, accessible educational opportunities that minimize barriers to post-secondary education, maximize student success, and develop a globally and multi-culturally competent workforce. Our colleges have recognized that transportation can be a significant barrier for students, especially in rural areas. They have taken action by providing shuttles, gas gift cards, purchasing vehicles to name a few — but more can be done. SHSF Public Transit Map highlights additional opportunities for our campuses to collaborate with local communities to ensure North Carolina residents can access the job training or higher education they need to achieve their education and career goals.”

“The data gathered by the SHSF will be invaluable to our members, helping them identify opportunities for new transportation demand management programs and services to address gaps in our public transit networks”, said David Straus, Executive Director of Association for Commuter Transportation. “To achieve healthy and sustainable communities we must focus on building an efficient, multimodal transportation system that serves and moves all people. “

AXIOS Raleigh published an article on the newest SHSF Public Transit Map, too. To read their take, click here.

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Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation (SHSF)

SHSF focuses on access to public services and accountability for abuse of authority. To learn more, visit us at www.shs.foundation