Public Transit Plans for the Triangle
Efforts to develop a vision for regional public transit began in 2007 when a group of civic leaders and transportation experts from Wake, Durham and Orange Counties were appointed to the Special Transit Advisory Commission (STAC). They were charged with developing a regional, multi-modal transit plan, based on a thorough analysis of future growth, land use, travel patterns and cost. In May 2008, the STAC released a vision for regional transit with a set of recommended transit investments and investment priorities.
This plan connecting the Triangle counties was adopted by the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) and the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO), the two transportation governing bodies. These MPOs incorporated the STAC Plan into the 2035 Long Range Transportation Plans in May 2009. This was a milestone for regional growth planning!
Since then, Triangle Transit and local county and elected officials have been working to develop plan specifics, and assess financing. An alternatives analysis process – that included extensive public input — identified priority corridors for light rail and commuter rail. Counties have also completed comprehensive bus studies. Draft county plans have been released in 2011 for public and government review.
Durham County was first to take the action of approving its county plan in 2011. Voters approved a half cent sales tax referendum in November 2011 (by a 60%-40% vote), which will provide the local funding needed for Durham’s expanded bus plan and commuter rail that will run between Durham to RTP to Raleigh to Garner. Orange County followed suit in November 2012, passing their funding referenda by 58%!
Wake must take action in 2013 to participate in the regional plan, otherwise the Durham-Orange corridor will be developed without connection to Wake County.
Wake County Transit Plan
Wake County has worked with Triangle Transit and local Wake municipalities to develop a proposal for expanding and improving public transit in Wake that also connects regionally to Durham and Orange Counties. This proposal is currently under consideration by local elected officials in all 12 Wake cities. The Wake County Board of Commissioners must hold a formal Public Comment hearing and approve the proposed plan prior to scheduling a funding referendum.
Wake County Transit Plan would be implemented over two phases. Phase I could be paid for entirely with a local ½ sales tax and increased vehicle registration fee. Phase II would require federal and state funding as well:
Phase I: Core Transit Plan
Expand and Improve Bus Service
- Doubling of bus service to 322,000 hours annually
- Implemented first 2-5 years
- Expand bus routes and increase frequency of buses to 15 minutes during peak hours
- Add bus shelters and benches
- Connect all Wake municipalities to Raleigh, job centers, universities, airport
- Costs approximately $138.3 million – to be paid for with local ½ sales tax and vehicle registration fee
Commuter Rail Service
- Provides rush-hour rail between Durham-RTP-Cary-Raleigh-Garner-Greenfield Pkwy.
- Trains to run every 30 min. during peak hours and every 60 min. off-peak
- 12 stations, with 9 stations in Wake County, some with park and ride lots
- Implemented by 2019 or 2020
- Costs approximately $330 million – to be paid for with local ½ sales tax and vehicle registration fee
Phase II: Enhanced Transit Plan
Light Rail Service
- Electric trains on new track
- Runs 13.9 miles from downtown Cary, through downtown Raleigh, and up to Millbrook Rd.; eventually expanding to NW Cary/Morrisville and up to Triangle Town Center
- Trains every 10 min. during peak and 20 min. off-peak
- 16 stations, with some over-lapping with commuter rail stations
- Coordinates with local bus service
- Links neighborhoods to provide intra-city travel and new transit-oriented development
- Implemented by 2022
- Costs $1.1 billion for construction, $14 million for operation
- Requires federal and state funding as well as local revenue.
Paying for the Plan
In order for these advances to go into effect, multiple revenue sources must be acquired. The Core Plan can be funded locally, but the Enhanced Plan depends on 25% state and 50% federal funding. The local funds will be drawn from two sources. The first is a half-cent sales tax referendum that county officials must agree to put on the ballot, and voters must to vote for the referendum to be enacted. This half-cent sales tax would generate at least $53 million annual in revenue. In addition, the plan will be supplemented by a $10 increase in vehicle registration fees. To see how much your individual contribution would be, click on this link.
Next Steps for the Plan
Wake County staff and Triangle Transit will continue to work with the municipalities in order to agree upon established parameters for the plan. The County Commission has requested Inter-local Agreements approved by the twelve municipalities in Wake County before approving the plan county-wide. Next, the county commissioners will hold a public hearing and then consider the plan in the spring of 2012. Finally, they must decide whether or not to put the sales tax referendum on the November 6, 2012 ballot. In order for these elected officials to put the referendum on the ballot, they need to know that the public supports the plan. SpeakUP and let your local leaders know that transit is important to Wake County!