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Car, bus, or train: Commuting options

By Mallory Green & Staff
On September 27, 2011

In these difficult economic times, driving a car is becoming very costly for Winston-Salem State commuters.

There is the cost of the car, maintenance, personal property taxes, tags, parking fees and the list goes on.

Several students, staff and faculty commute from High Point and Greensboro to Winston-Salem.

The average price for regular gasoline is $3.33 in the Triad, according to, a site that provides real-time, national average price searches for gas by city, state, and zip code.

Prices at the two gas stations near the campus on Martin Luther King Drive this week average $3.40.

These prices fluctuate throughout a day because the cost of gas is directly influenced by the cost of crude oil, according to Financial Nut, a business, finance and economics website.

Brandon Delaney, a junior business major from High Point, drives his car every day from High Point to Winston-Salem.

"I spend around $40 to $45 a week in gas," Delaney said.

Corbin Bradford, a senior sports management major from Greensboro, says she spends about $100 a week on gas.

"I waste so much money on gas because I drive here [to WSSU] five times a week, and I drive a "gas guzzler", a Ford Expedition," Bradford said.

"If I could carpool I would, or if no one would see me, I would ride the bus."

North Carolinians spend on average $2,800 a year for gas, said Brent McKinney, director of Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation.

Alternatives and less expensive solutions for WSSU commuters are the Triad's public transportation options: PART, Winston-Salem Transit Authority, High Point Transit, and Amtrak.

"It's less expensive to use public transportation to commute than to drive," McKinney said.  

For example, he said driving from downtown High Point to downtown Winston-Salem is 38 miles. At 62 cents a mile, it would cost the driver about $27 one way.

"If a student used PART, the trip would cost $1.20," he said.

PART provides connections between major cities and counties throughout the Triad.

PART works in cooperation with WSTA, GTA, and Hi tran which provide transportation access within the city limits.

PART provides free park-and-ride lots throughout its routes. Its schedules are posted on  

Earlier this month, PART's Board of Trustees approved fare hikes from $2.40 to $3 one way for adults; and from $20 to $30 for the 10-Ride Pass effective Oct. 1. The rates for the 31-Day Pass -- $74.50 and half price fares for students and seniors were not changed.   A new Regional Fare Pass became effective Sept. 12. This pass replaced ticket books and can be used on PART, GTA, Hi tran and WSTA buses.  The regional pass can be purchased in increments of $5, $10 and $20.

WSTA has 24 daytime bus routes and seven nighttime routes.

It operates between 5:30 a.m. to midnight, Mondays through Fridays and from 6:30 a.m. through 6:30 p.m. Saturdays.  

WSTA does not give discounts to students. Fares are $1 per trip with a complimentary transfer that is valid for connecting trips only.  

The service offers $10 Full-Fare Ten-Ride that covers 10 one-way trips.

The transfers can be requested upon boarding.

The $30 Full-Fare Monthly pass is good for unlimited rides. No transfer pass is required.

Also, WSTA bus routes are just for Winston-Salem residents, but most bus systems have connectors.  

N.C. Amtrak Connector offers a one-way ticket for $2, and half price for students, seniors, and disabled passengers. The service operates Mondays through Fridays.

"I love the train," said Cole Russing, a new professor in the Mass Communications Department. Russing, commutes from Raleigh, and said he drives 100 miles each way.

"If the train schedule worked with my class schedule, I would ride the train all the time," Russing said.

"The train has power outlets, so I can plug in my laptop and go to work while I ride, and they give you complimentary water."

Russing said that the ticket price for the train is cheaper than what he spends in gas.

"I spend $100 in gas, and I pay $17.50 round trip when I ride the train -- a big difference."


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