Our View: Hi tran study rolls ahead

Jan. 15, 2013 @ 01:45 AM

It may cost city taxpayers as much as $180,000, but a comprehensive look at Hi tran, High Point’s municipal bus service, is an expense worth incurring.
After all, the city sinks about $2.2 million in taxpayer dollars each year into operation of the system. And it’s been a dozen years since any in-depth study of Hi tran has been performed. A serious fiscal and operational review of the system is due.
City officials decided earlier this month to seek proposals for conducting this study. The city has budgeted about $180,000 for the work, and City Council will award a contract later this year after proposals from contractors are reviewed.
Let’s hope this study will thoroughly examine the current operations of Hi tran as they relate to routes and ridership. Some questions we’d like to see addressed include: Are existing routes serving the area in the most effective way? Are routes serving areas with the greatest needs? Should some routes be eliminated or reduced and other routes expanded, or should new routes be added in order to better serve people who depend on Hi tran for their transportation needs?
A key area of study in this regard should center on whether routes are adequately designed to move people to and from areas of the city where jobs are available. For example, Hi trans’ Eastchester Drive route stops at Oak Hollow Mall. We wonder if it might be more practical now for a Hi tran route to be extended farther out Eastchester to newer shopping areas and office parks instead of depending on service from a Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation bus that travels Eastchester. An important factor in such a decision, however, is whether that move by Hi tran would serve a number of people sufficient to make it feasible.
Also important to this examination will be a look at operational efficiencies. Are there some better administrative practices or belt-tightening that could be instituted? We wonder if the fee structure for Hi tran is adequate, given the fact that the city pours about $2.2 million a year into the operation. Are other possible sources of revenue being tapped? We also wonder whether smaller buses in some cases might be more efficient and more cost effective.
Yes, this study will cost the city some money, but for taxpayers, it should be regarded as a welcome examination of Hi tran.