Tuesday 21 April 2015

North Carolina Special Part One

Welcome to the first post on SB&TP to come from the good ole US of A. Former Norfolkian Mick Capon has been in touch with details of the bus scene in his North Carolina home. Save me trying to explain it all Mick has very kindly sent me a full explanation, which he has given his consent for me to reproduce. Thanks, Mick.

Since making my home in Durham, North Carolina nine years ago, I have continued my lifelong interest in buses. Bus operation in the USA is possibly not well known among most British enthusiasts, apart from the long-distance operations of Greyhound, Trailways and now Megabus, and perhaps the obvious interest of former British open-top ‘deckers operated here in a tourist capacity.

With this in mind I thought I might try to illustrate the “transit” scene here. Locally and nationally ridership has increased dramatically in the past few years
To explain the geography, The Triangle is a metropolitan area in the Piedmont of North Carolina, USA. It consists of three main cities, Raleigh, Wake County (the State Capital); Durham, Durham County; and Chapel Hill, Orange County. The combined population is approximately 1.5 million. The average student population of each city is 32,000.

Each municipality has its own transit service. They are linked by the inter-urban services of the Triangle Transit Authority.

All vehicles are dual-door, single-deck and have front bicycle racks. A fixed fare system is the norm, in Durham it’s $1 (seniors free) although in Chapel Hill all rides are free. Distances within towns are, in comparison to East Anglia, huge. For example, if my wife suddenly decides she needs knitting yarn she would think nothing of nipping out on a 25-mile round trip to the craft store across town.
I wil also add a couple of lines from the email mick sent me with the above;

The bus scene here is boring, but for all the right reasons. Services are regular, very cheap, regular (same timetable from early morning to very late every day), geared to the passenger (with six-monthly public consultation meetings).

The main manufacturer that the operators in Mick's part of the world seem to use is a Californian company called Gillig, who according to Mick are a favourite with smaller operators. Buses are delivered the same way as the UK, ie driven. However, in North Carolina's case that's a distance from the factory of around 2,500 miles, which I guess gives every chance for any teething troubles to be noticed. To me they look similar to Pointer Darts. Here are a few examples. The first pic is a Durham Area Transit Authority (DATA) Gillig Advantage.

DATA 032 Gillig Advantage
Here a Gillig Hybrid, in a refreshed DATA livery introduced in 2010.

DATA's Gillig Hybrid

Next up is a Go Durham Gillig Hybrid looking rather smart i must say in a livery only introduced last month

Go Durham Gillig Hybrid
Finally for this part a CAT, which stands for Capital Area Transit. Yet another Gillig Advantage, this time back in the old livery.

Capital Area Transit Raleigh Gillig Advantage in old livery
My thanks to Mick for the pics, look out for part two coming soon. Mick has promised me a ream of pics on different aspects of US bus travel so the American Slot could become a regular feature. many thanks Mick - you can't keep an d Norfolk boy down!


  1. Steve, The Gilligs,or for that matter most North American transit buses and coaches, are anything Dart-like. They are real heavyweights, built like the proverbial brick outhouse.

    Some Darts were built here under license, actually in North Carolina, but that's another story.


  2. Should read "anything BUT Dart-like." It's early morning here - that's my excuse.