Photo courtesy Town of Chapel Hill via Flickr.
Mayor Kevin C. Foy accepted the first place City Livability Award on behalf of the Town of Chapel Hill, N.C., during the 2009 Mayors' City Livability Awards Program. More than 200 cities from around the country were considered for the award, based on three criteria: mayoral leadership, creativity and innovation, and broad impact on the quality of life for residents.
Sponsored by Waste Management, Inc., and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the City Livability Award Program recognizes mayors for exemplary leadership in developing and implementing programs that improve the quality of life in their cities.
Chapel Hill won top honors in the category for cities with populations of under 100,000 for creating the fare-free transit program. Since Chapel Hill Transit became fare free in 2002, it has become the second-largest transit system in North Carolina. Since that time, ridership has risen from 3 million riders a year to over 7 million riders annually projected for 2009.
This program is unique in that while some university transit systems provide fare free service for university students, faculty and staff, very few communities provide free transit service to all riders. The commitment in this community went beyond the University to all citizens in the community in an effort to encourage greater usage of public transportation and reduction of reliance on the single occupancy automobile.
"The Chapel Hill Public Transit system is the foundation of our sustainable future," said Mayor Foy. "This bus system makes Chapel Hill continue to be the kind of place people love; for us it is an investment and it has paid off big time."
The town is planning a special community event to celebrate this distinguished award and recognize the contribution of our fare-free system for the community. Event details are being arranged and will be released soon.