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Trailways announces shake-up

AHOSKIE – Improvements are coming for bus service from Ahoskie.

The Carolina Trailways Bus Company will improve the service from Ahoskie to Raleigh and Norfolk, but will end bus service for a total of 31 locations in North Carolina and several in the Roanoke-Chowan area. The new schedules take effect on August 17.

&uot;The bus service in and out of Ahoskie will improve greatly,&uot; Carolina Trailways General Manager Elvis Latiolais said.

&uot;We’ve revamped our entire schedule network in eastern North Carolina to make it much more efficient and more convenient,&uot; Latiolais added.

Carolina Trailways, a subsidiary of Greyhound, operates in six eastern states. The company announced its plans to eliminate some of its smaller stations as part of a system-wide improvement plan.

The 31 locations losing bus service are considered unprofitable or marginally profitable.

Carolina Trailways will end service to some local towns, including Rich Square, Hertford, Windsor, Lewiston, Oak City, Pinetops, Scotland Neck, Princeville and Tarboro.

&uot;Through the restructuring, the bus line is eliminating smaller stations where there are few customers and operating new routes where there is greater demand,&uot; Latiolais said. &uot;For instance, there will be a greater frequency of service between Ahoskie and Raleigh. Customers in the areas where stations are closing will still be able to catch a bus at nearby locations and in most cases where there are closings, another station is located within 20 miles.&uot;

The changes will mean faster, more frequent service, especially in Raleigh, Charlotte and Wilmington.

For customers making the trip to Raleigh or to Charlotte, the changes bring good news. Right now the ride to Charlotte can take as long as seven hours. Some of the new routes will shave two hours off that trip.

For those who don’t drive or people on fixed incomes, the bus service is convenient and affordable transportation when traveling outside of the area.

However, fewer people are riding the bus these days.

Bus lines nationwide are focusing on their major hubs to stay competitive.

&uot;We want to make our network a much faster, more efficient and more convenient service for our customers,&uot; said Latiolais. &uot;The actual station locations and communities that we’re dropping from our service structure, the cost to operate in those communities is higher than the revenue we generate there.&uot;

&uot;In some towns Trailways picks up only one or two passengers a day,&uot; Latiolais added. &uot;Of the locations being closed, 75 percent had no outbound sales and most were just discharge points. But even if a bus didn’t stop in some of these locations, passing through to check for pickups could add 40 minutes or more to trips.&uot;

Carolina Trailways is also boosting service from five trips to 24 trips each day from Raleigh to Charlotte. Before, there were no direct lines from Raleigh to Wilmington; now there will be three each day. The company is even extending service to Myrtle Beach and Charleston in South Carolina and Savannah in Georgia.

&uot;People in the smaller communities will still be able to get to inter-city bus lines,&uot; Latiolais said. &uot;They’ll just have to take a local or county bus to a larger town.&uot;

Bus service in Ahoskie operates from the Red Apple Market at 107 NC 42. One trip to Raleigh will leave Ahoskie at 8:45 a.m. and arrive in Raleigh at 11:35 a.m. with one stop in Rocky Mount. Another bus will leave at 8 p.m. and arrive in Raleigh at 10:50 p.m. One trip to Norfolk will leave at 12:50 p.m. and arrive in Norfolk at 2:10 p.m. and the other one will leave Ahoskie at 8:50 p.m. and arrive in Norfolk at 10:10 p.m. The only stop for this line is in Suffolk.