Community and Senior Services of Johnston County (CSS), operates a community transportation program known as the Johnston County Area Transit System (JCATS). Thirty-one JCATS vehicles provided more than 94,000 rides last year. Due to the county’s rapid growth, demand for their services is growing substantially.
Neal Davis, Executive Director of Community and Senior Services, says to keep up with the rapid growth a new Operations and Maintenance Facility is urgently needed. Davis says planning for future growth is important. By 2046, the JCATS fleet is projected to require 51 vehicles and 66 employees at the current site. That represents a 65 percent increase in jobs.
Davis says JCATS is expected to meet growth demand for scheduled fixed-route public transportation within municipalities, connecting service to Amtrak, Greyhound, Johnston Regional Airport, and eventually commuter rail service.
“Thanks to the foresight of our Board of Directors, we own enough land at our current site to expand and the current site is ideally located near important traffic corridors,” Davis told Johnston County Commissioners.
A facility feasibility study completed in 2017 outlines what is needed to meet growth in the next 30 years. The study recommends an 11,040 square foot facility. Davis says CSS staff has been able to reduce the cost on the proposed new building from $8 million down to $3 million.
Davis wanted County Commissioners to fund $1.5 million of the cost with the remaining half coming from JCATS.
The operations facility would be constructed on the same 4.6 acre site as the existing facility at 1050 W. Noble Street in Selma.
“All of the existing paved fleet parking will be kept and there’s room for the new building on a vacant portion of the property,” Davis told JoCoReport.com saying the new building is desperately needed. “We’re operating from an old 2,000 square foot modular unit. It’s limited to no more than 20 occupants, but we have 40 employees. We have no space for training or weather briefings and no passenger waiting area.”
Davis wants construction of the new building to start in late-2020 if commissioners commit to funding the project soon. Davis says the new building could serve a dual role as an evacuation shelter or staging area for emergency response teams. “The maintenance facility will be large enough to hold a fire truck or other emergency vehicles during a disaster situation,” he added.
“We’re swamped with demand. We have waiting lists for everything,” Davis said. “As you know, population growth in Johnston county is staggering, just count the number of new houses. We’re grateful for the financial resources we have but the funding model isn’t keeping up.”
“Civic leaders are eager to talk about commuter rail and fixed-route service. We know exactly what’s required to provide that, and we will certainly provide it, given the resources. But first we need to upgrade our infrastructure.”
“We’re transferring passengers between buses out in the elements because we don’t have a transfer facility. Our vehicle mechanics only have floor jacks to lift a vehicle and creepers to work on them. The fire department says our building can only be occupied by 20 people, but JCATS has 40 employees. These 40 employees share two single stall toilets. We have nowhere to conduct inclement weather briefings, on-site training, etc. We’re expected to respond to emergency evacuations, and we do so with record speed,” Davis added.
“All we’re asking now is for the County to allocate just half of the money needed to build a facility that will serve Johnston County for the next 30 years. The consultants want to spend $8 million. We will build it for just $3 million. Seems like a great opportunity to me.”