When you get to the fairgrounds every day at 8 a.m. and leave late in the evening, it’s easy to get to the fairgrounds and find a parking spot. However, most people can’t visit the fairgrounds on that same schedule and therefore, they have to deal with the traffic and finding a place to park.
A former co-worker rode the bus to the fair with her family a few years ago and has stuck to that routine ever since. Many people claim that it’s the best way to get to the fair. So I did some investigative reporting.
In Raleigh, the CAT bus North Raleigh Park-and-Ride lot moved this year to a location on my route to the fairgrounds, so I decided to check it out. The North Raleigh location is off of Capital Boulevard, just north of the Beltline. The location is well-marked on both Capital Blvd. and Westinghouse Boulevard. When you park, you’ll see a tent set up where you buy your ticket. You can get a one-way ticket or a round-trip. Get there, buy your ticket and get in line.
I got to the park-and-ride lot about 10 minutes early and there was already a line of people waiting. The first bus was a few minutes late arriving and promptly filled up, but there were two buses waiting behind it by the time the first one loaded and left. The bus driver hopped off to give us a quick tutorial on how to use the ticket card reader (FYI, you insert the ticket with the CAT logo on the top left, facing you) and then we were off and headed to the fair in no time. Since it was before 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, we didn’t encounter any traffic and were pulling up to Gate 1 before I knew it. We were mere yards away from the ticket booths and Dorton Arena. Definitely better than searching for a parking spot and walking to the gate.
At the end of my workday, my return trip was just as smooth. I walked out of the gate at 10 p.m. to a waiting bus. I had my ticket ready and sat down on one of the remaining seats. The bus was standing-room only, but the trip was quick and we were back at the North Raleigh Park-and-Ride lot with no delays. When I stepped off the bus, I was about 30 feet away from my car and on my way home before the bus was even finished unloading.
While I can’t use the CAT bus on a daily basis to get to work, if I were to come to the fair with my family or friends, I would definitely take the bus. The front door service just can’t be beat.
If you can’t take the North Raleigh bus, CAT also runs buses from WakeMed Soccer Park and along Hillsborough Street. DATA runs from the Downtown Durham Transit Station and the Durham Heritage Square Shopping Center. TTA runs buses from the Friday Center and the Regional Transit Center on the weekends. There is also a shuttle from Garner on the weekends. For all the transit options, go to the Park and Ride page on our website.
Here’s a quick video of my bus adventure: