Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank you for holding today's hearing on Bus Rapid Transit and other bus service innovations. Bus service has long provided an important transportation option for communities across the nation. Bus Rapid Transit represents an effort to take advantage of the low cost of bus services compared to more expensive mass transit alternatives, thereby maximizing the effectiveness of our transit dollars.
Bus Rapid Transit projects can combine relatively low vehicle and roadway construction costs with the modern stations, frequent service and dedicated pathways associated with rail and light rail alternatives. In doing so, we create a convenient, efficient and cost-effective transportation alternative that has the added environmental benefits associated with decreasing the number of cars on the road.
Despite their obvious appeal for our cities, bus rapid transit systems face some challenges. Some believe that middle class and wealthy populations will refuse to use bus services because they view these services as being for low income individuals. This view can affect the community planning choices made by developers and retailers, who are an important part of any new mass transit project. In addition, some question the long-term operational costs of a bus rapid transit system when compared to a rail or light rail alternative whose operational costs are seen as lower.
These issues are very important to North Carolina, especially considering the fact that the Charlotte Area Transit System has plans for the use of bus rapid transit facilities in three of the planned corridors and already has over two miles completed in the Southeast Corridor. Bus Rapid Transit represents an important option for mass transit that I hope will become a reality for other North Carolina Communities as well.
I would like to thank our witnesses for taking the time to join us here today to share their perspectives with us. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this and other transportation issues as we prepare to reauthorize the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.