An Economic Evaluation of Fixed Route Bus Service in Jackson County, North Carolina: A Rural Corridor Analysis
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Transportation policy evaluation involves identifying and measuring the benefits and costs of a proposed investment. This paper evaluates the socio-economic impacts of investing in fixed route bus service in Jackson County, NC. Traffic conditions along NC-107, which is the main north-south arterial that runs from downtown Sylva to Cullowhee, have deteriorated substantially over the past two decades. These conditions have been brought on by commercial and residential development and an expanding Western Carolina University student body. Without any significant investment in alternative parallel routes or traffic demand management strategies, many segments of this roadway are currently at or near engineered capacity throughout peak and mid-day hours. This evaluation defines, quantifies, and, where applicable, values the costs and benefits of a fixed route transit investment over the status quo throughout a 10 year time period (2010-2020). The results reveal that several factors influence the success of transit within the region. From an economic perspective, the most critical determinants of success are service consumption levels, optimal route design, and the potential changes in variable costs of travel like the real price of fuel. Recognition of long term social benefits like reduced congestion and air pollution levels and well coordinated land use policies that support sustainable community growth can also have a significant effect on the feasibility of the investment.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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