Public Transportation

Public transportation plays a vital role in enhancing the productivity and the quality of life in the United States. It promotes access to employment, community resources, medical care and entertainment in communities across America. Both those who choose to ride, and those who have no other choice benefit from its presence. By reducing congestion, air pollution, and travel times, public transportation even benefits those who choose not to ride.


In urban areas, transit typically ranks as the second most used travel mode after personal vehicles. North Carolina has one of the better highway systems in the nation, and it has supported our state emergence as an economic power and population center. However, in North Carolina urban areas, congestion and travel delays are occurring more frequently. Our reliance on personal vehicles for virtually all trips has contributed to congestion and reduction in air quality. Statewide, growth in travel demand has exceeded population growth by a large percentage. Although North Carolina has an aggressive highway building program, it appears that it will be unable to keep pace with the demands placed on its capacity.


Western Piedmont Leads the Way


Officials in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties along with the municipalities of Hickory, Newton, and Conover passed resolutions to create a regional transit authority. Called Greenway Transit, the organization is the first regional public transportation authority with consolidated urban-rural transit service in the state.


The transit authority assumed the operations of the rural and urban transit systems in the four-county region, collectively known as the Unifour, on July 1, 2008. The following four service providers were consolidated:


  • Alexander County community transportation provided by Alexander County Transportation, a county-operated system;

  • Burke County community transportation provided by Burke County Transit Administration Inc., a nonprofit agency;

  • Caldwell County - community transportation provided by Caldwell County Area Transit System Inc., a nonprofit agency;

  • Catawba County Piedmont Wagon Transit System, operated by the city of Hickory, which provides community transportation to county residents and fixed-route service for the cities of Hickory, Newton, and Conover.


The authority's story began in 2001 when Caldwell County Area Transit System applied for a planning assistance grant on behalf of Unifour. The funding, awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Community Transportation Association of America in 2002, made possible a feasibility study, completed by consultants RLS and Associates in 2004.


From feasibility to implementation, the project moved forward in 2005 when Hickory used federal Section 5307 planning funds, combined with state matching funds from the NCDOT Public Transportation Division, to finance the implementation study. The city contracted with the KFH Group to complete the study, and work was initiated in May 2006.


The Western Piedmont Council of Governments served as facilitator for the project. A study committee regularly met and guided the progress of the Regional Transportation Implementation Plan.  Additionally, each county conducted meetings and public hearings. The project had support early on from the transit directors and their transportation advisory boards.


For more information contact:


Greenway Transit 
1515 4th Street SW
Conover, NC 28613
tel (828) 464-9444
fax (828) 466-0570


For statewide information, contact:

NCDOT Public Transportation Division

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Western Piedmont Local Coordinated Plan - Update


Thank you to those who participated in the input workshop and completed the survey. If you attended the workshop or filled out a survey, please complete the following survey regarding strategies for accomplishing the unmet needs:


First, review the information gathered at the workshop. A link to the spreadsheet is found here.


Then, complete the following survey.

Proposed Burke County Fixed Route













The Western Piedmont Council of Governments shall serve all local government members in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties with professional, cost-effective assistance on a variety of local, regional, state and federal issues and programs.

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Telephone: ​828.322.9191

Fax: 828.322.5991

Mailing: P.O. Box 9026 | Hickory, NC 28603
Location: 1880 2nd Avenue NW
Hickory, NC 28601

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