Raleigh, North Carolina is a beautiful city that is full of wonderful places to explore. Free museums, historic monuments, serene parks, thriving workspaces, and plenty of places to try delicious foods. Another excellent thing about Raleigh is how passionate they are about making all of their city’s destinations accessible to the public.
Raleigh, North Carolina has a well-organized and diverse public transit system. This is an important feature of this city due to its large square mileage and population. Raleigh has public e-scooters, bike-share, and buses. Bus routes and fares are handled through GoRaleigh and GoRaleighAccess.
What drove Raleigh to develop its unique system? And how are Raleigh’s citizens able to access all of Raleigh’s different public transit options?
Raleigh’s public transit system is the only one that I have seen with a city-funded bike share program.
Raleigh partnered with a company called Bewegen Technologies, Inc., and created their program which has been named Cardinal BikeShare. As Raleigh is North Carolina’s Capital, it makes sense that they would name their bike-share program after the state bird. The bikes are also a lovely shade of red, much like the coloring of the bird the program is named after.
How Can Travelers Gain Access to the Cardinal BikeShare?
There are currently 3 ways to rent a Cardinal:
- Go to the Cardinal RideShare website and rent it
- Download the Cardinal RideShare app
- If you are not able to access the internet or just don’t want to download the app, there are several payment station kiosks located throughout Raleigh
Pricing Options for the Cardinal BikeShare
- Pay Per Ride Pass: Each “ride” lasts for 30 minutes, the bike must be docked by the end of the 30 minutes or additional fees will be applied, one phone can have up to 4 bikes rented at a time. The bike does not have to be ridden the whole time, you can even transfer to other bikes, but the timer keeps going once it has been started.
- 2 Hour Pass: 2 consecutive hours without the need to dock intermittently, and if you need to stop somewhere other than a Cardinal BikeShare station then you can use the secondary lock on the bike. For this pass, you can only have 1 bike rented at a time per account. The timer continues to run during any breaks you take until it is docked at the end of your time.
- Monthly Membership: This membership is available through the app, at payment kiosks, or on the website. For a one-time fee, you get unlimited 45-minute rides for the whole month. You can have up to 4 passes, and only 1 bike at a time per pass, exchanging your bike resets the timer.
- Student Annual Membership: For this membership, you have to go through the Cardinal BikeShare website to join. After which you will receive a membership key fob and log in. It takes at least 10 days for a key fob to be processed and mailed, but reach out if you haven’t received yours within 12 days. This membership costs less than the regular Annual Membership and in order to get it, you have to have a valid “.edu” email address. This membership gives you free 45-minute rides for a whole year. The first 45 minutes of every ride are free, if you go over that time you will incur additional costs. You can start multiple rides in one day. You can only have 1 bike at a time per membership.
- Annual Membership: This membership also requires going through the Cardinal BikeShare website to join. Pretty much the only difference between this and the Student Membership is that the Student membership is discounted.
- Annual PLUS: The difference between this membership and the regular Annual Membership is that it costs more and each ride lasts 60 minutes instead of 45 minutes.
Extra Fees that Can Occur
- Any time that you go over the amount you paid, there is an added fee.
- If a bike is not docked in a station when you are done with it, you will be charged a $50 recovery fee.
- If the bike is missing for 24 hours it will be considered stolen property and you will be charged a fee of $2000.
The city of Raleigh has a dockless e-scooter program as part of its public transit system. This one feels like much less of a practical necessity than the other ones, but it helps to get younger citizens interested in getting out there and exploring the city and learning about independence.
The city’s e-scooter operators are Lime, Bolt, and Spin. Each of these has its own app and is typically rented by the minute. They’re fun and cheap and a great activity for families, friends, or even a fun little date night.
You must be at least 18 years old to use the scooters, and users are strongly encouraged to use helmets. Users are asked to stay off of sidewalks and use bike lanes whenever possible in order to decrease the possibility of pedestrian collisions. There can only be one rider per scooter, and scooter users must follow all the same traffic laws as a bicycle or any other vehicle.
When you’re done with your ride park it in an upright position either in a designated scooter parking area or upright and out of the way of pedestrian traffic.
GoRaleigh is the city’s busing program that allows people to load their fares onto their GoRaleigh cards as well as track their transport in real-time and plan routes. These can all be managed by individuals by using either the GoRaleigh website or the GoRaleigh app.
Planning a Route
The GoRaleigh website has a trip planner where you can input both your point of origin and your destination and it will show you which stops to walk to and which buses to take in order to reach your destination. If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to use GoRaleigh, they also have a Ride Guide that teaches first-time travelers how to use the app and the website.
GoRaleigh also has several reduced fare programs in place to increase the accessibility of the city’s public transit options.
The GoPass is a pass that employers can register for in order to grant themselves and their employees free rides on both GoRaleigh and GoTriangle bus routes. The GoPass will need to be swiped instead of the regular GoRaleigh bus card because the GoPass is a specific service that can’t just be loaded onto the regular card.
Although any employer can purchase a GoPass for their organization, there are a few which are already in place. If someone falls under any of these categories, they are eligible for a GoPass.
- City of Raleigh Employees: Free rides with the use of GoPass or ID Badge. There is a $3 replacement fee for lost or stolen passes and badges.
- Wake County Government Employees: Free rides with the use of GoPass or ID Badge. There is a $3 replacement fee for lost or stolen passes and badges.
- North Carolina State University Students: Free rides with use of GoPass or Student ID ($5 student fee)
- North Carolina State University Faculty/Staff: Free rides with the use of GoPass or Faculty/Staff ID ($60 Faculty/Staff fee)
- Meredith College Students, Faculty, and Staff: Free rides with the use of GoPass
- Wake Technical Community College Students: Free rides with the use of GoPass or Student ID
- Wake Technical Community College Faculty and Staff: Free Rides with use of Faculty/Staff ID
Some of the other reduced fares for GoRaleigh are:
- A 50% discount for people with disabilities with a GoRaleigh ID
- Kids who are 13-18 ride free with the YouthGoPass and get a 50% discount without a Pass
- Kids who are 12 and under ride free, but they have to have a GoRaleigh ID as a form of age verification if they are over 60 inches tall.
How Do I Get a GoRaleigh ID Card?
Go to the GoRaleigh website, fill out the application, and put in an address for where you want the card to be delivered, or call GoRaleigh at (919)-996-3459.
Raleigh has a whole separate transit system for people with disabilities that provides them with access to paratransit. Paratransit is a service provided for those who are unable to use the fixed routes already in place due to functional disabilities.
Paratransit routes are supposed to be similar to regular routes with concerns to days and hours of service, fares, zones of availability, response time, and so forth.
In order to be able to use GoRaleighAccess, an individual must qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act, also known as the ADA. For a trip to be eligible for paratransit service it must begin and end within 3/4 of a mile of a GoRaleigh bus stop.
Out-of-town visitors who qualify for ADA may also use GoRaleigh by reaching out to the Raleigh Paratransit Services Certification Office. They are able to use GoRaleighAccess for 21 days per year.
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