Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Moore Square Transit Mall, demystified

I'd like to think taking a CAT bus is simple, but it's not always. There may be times when you need to go to Moore Square, either because you live near there or because you have to transfer to another bus. Once you become a little familiar with the set up, it will feel a little more user friendly. If you're like me, you'll probably only take the same couple of buses and soon you'll know just where to go! Right now I am addressing the CAT bus system. In subsequent posts, I will talk about the TTA and then both systems together.

Moore Square is divided into five zones. Red, Blue, Yellow, Green and Purple. Click here to view a map of Moore Square. All buses enter from the south on Martin Street and exit to the north on Hargett Street, with the exception of the Yellow Zone, which exits to the east and the south on Blount. You should also be aware that your bus entering the transit station may not continue as that bus. For example, I was on the No. 21 coming home from the Farmer's Market one Saturday. To get to my apartment, I can take the 2, 4, 6, 8, or 16. No. 21 leaves from the Yellow Zone. Nos. 2 and 4 leave from the Blue Zone, and the rest leave from the Red Zone. I was expecting the 21 to continue as the 21. Nope. In what turned out to be a great stroke of good luck, it turned into the No. 8 which stops in front of my building. Considering I had more veggies than I could carry, I was pleased.

Also, be aware that the driver will not give you a transfer ticket at Moore Square. This baffles me, but whatever. The rules are the rules. If you know you need another bus, ask for a transfer when you get on the bus. Or better yet, pony up the $2 for a Raleigh day pass and don't worry about it. If you have to get a day pass, tell the driver BEFORE you put your money in the machine.

I have found the City Kitty drivers to be a little less than customer service oriented, possibly due to the characters they serve. I have also found that saying hello when I get on the bus, can be helpful. Even if your driver is grumpy, do not hesitate to let the driver know you aren't sure where to get off. I had to go to the Wake Tech Health Campus the other day and my driver was happy to let me know when to get off.

In conclusion, here what you really need to know about the City Kitty in general and Moore Square in specific:

1. Here is the website for all of the CAT bus schedules. I think the schedules are pretty easy to read. In subsequent posts, I will go over more resources that help you figure out what bus you need.

2. The fare is $1 a trip unless you are a Senior or handicapped, then its fifty cents, or a kid under 40" tall then it's free. Wake County and City of Raleigh and State of North Carolina employees, NCSU and Meredith College students all ride for free with the proper identification. In most cases, it will probably be easier to tell the driver you want a CAT day pass before you insert any money then you don't have to worry about transfers and such. Just don't lose the day pass!

3. Take exact change. Use $1 bills, or better yet...bring quarters. Just don't be the asshole who pays with nickels.

4. There is an information booth in Moore Square Transit Mall. I suggest you use them as a last resort. Their information and attitude is a little less than what you'd expect, if you catch my drift. (Seriously, just email me, it'll be easier!)

5. The CAT drivers will help you figure out where to go if you ask for help.

6. Keep you eyes OPEN in Moore Square and on the bus. This is the time to channel your inner New Yorker. Moore Square isn't bad from a personal safety standpoint, but I can guarantee you I will not whip out my iPhone there either. Keep it simple, don't encourage trouble.

7. You can take a bike with you on a CAT bus. Here are the instructions on how to do it. (Yes, it's the TTA website, but the bike racks operate the same.)

8. Arrive about five minutes early to the stop. The buses will run a bit late on the weekends, but you should not.

9. For as cranky as CAT bus drivers can be, they will stop if they see you at a bus stop. It's not a bad idea to wave at the bus you need. I am acutely aware that I have to hail a bus here in the South and it depresses me on many levels.

10. Most importantly, have fun! Enjoy your surroundings. Keep an eye out for weirdness. Relax. Remember your doing good for the environment and your soul.

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