Bus unfair and unequal?

RALEIGH They're upset about the R-Line which began running Friday. It circles through the city center, hitting the convention center, Glenwood South, and - on the weekends - City Market. City leaders started the service with three hybrid buses to help downtown revitalization.

It doesn't cost a penny to ride, and that's not sitting well with the thousands who ride Capital Area Transit - or CAT - buses. They pay to ride either with coins in the slot or a pre-paid membership card.

"I understand they're trying to bring the economy back and bring people closer to downtown and everything, but what about the consistent riders, such as me? I've been riding for 15 years and I think it's a little unfair," offered bus rider Thaddeus Terrell.

"I feel like all the buses should be free if that's the case," said Jada Darden.

City leaders say the idea is to help and encourage people to get around without cars during the workday and to get from one downtown district to another with ease on nights and weekends.

The mayor defended the free-fare concept.

"Well the reason the R-Line is free, just because of the short trips people are taking, it'll just be 3 or 4 blocks, and it's awfully hard to charge a dollar if you're just going a few stops," said Mayor Charles Meeker.

But bus riders who spoke with Eyewitness News felt differently.

"I think they should just charge a little something, because let's be honest, you got doctors, lawyers, judges frequent downtown more regularly than the common man," said Terrell.

And riders are questioning the fact that the free buses run later on the weekends than other CAT buses.

"Somebody that works that gets off at 11 or 12 o'clock, then if we don't have a ride then we short," said Darden.

City leaders said they hear the concerns, but said they're trying to strike a balance. The R-Line will keep rolling downtown as is.

For more on the downtown Raleigh, go to www.YouRHere.com For more on the new bus service, visit: http://www.godowntownraleigh.com/get-around/r-line/r-line-stops

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