Wake County Recommended Draft Transit Plan
Transit Choices for our Community
Over the past year, Wake County went through a planning process to develop a new plan that advances a bold vision for improved and expanded public transit, i.e. a transit plan to connect and enhance Wake and the Triangle! The process was led by Wake County with input from several other entities (including Go Triangle, RTP, NCSU, RDU Airport, all 12 municipalities and more), and in December 2015 the Recommended Draft Transit Plan was revealed to the public. This 10-year plan will quadruple the investment in bus service and bring commuter rail to Wake.
What’s in the plan?
There are four overarching goals this plan aims to achieve:
The plan will create more express bus service throughout the Triangle, and at the end of 10 years Wake County will have a commuter rail line between Garner and Durham. Commuter rail is passenger trains on existing rail tracks, focused on moving people during heavy commute hours, with some service at other times of day.
This plan will also expand bus service to all twelve municipalities in Wake County. Many will have more buses per day than they do now, and some will be getting service for the first time ever! There will also be more connections between outer towns, so not all service has to go in and out of downtown Raleigh.
3. Creating a Frequent Network
Within more urban areas, bus service will become much more frequent. At the end of 10 years, there will be 83 miles of routes with a bus coming every 15 minutes (up from 17 miles today)! Operating hours will also expand along those routes to 19 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Wake County will also be trying a new type of bus, called Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). This service uses special features to keep buses moving and on schedule. Some areas may have lanes dedicated just to BRT so that the bus isn’t stuck in traffic, or the bus may get an early priority signal at red lights, so it can jump the queue and get ahead of cars. Stations could have off-bus ticketing, so there are no lines when the bus arrives. The plan designates four corridors for BRT: South Wilmington St., Western Blvd., Capital Blvd., and New Bern Ave.
Overall, this new plan will greatly enhance people’s access to public transit around the county. At the end of 10 years, 50% of people and 70% of jobs will be within a 1/2 mile of a bus stop. There will be options for outlying towns to go further in expanding transit through a local matching fund, and paratransit services will continue to expand for people who aren’t able to utilize public transit.
“I live in Garner, and I rely on transit to get to downtown Raleigh and other places for jobs because I don’t own a car. Personally if I were able to catch a bus at a reasonable time, I would be able to work a 9-6 schedule and have more time with my son. Doubling of the buses would be tremendous for the economy. I love the idea of commuter rail. It makes me excited to know that I could get on a train and get somewhere in a few minutes.”
– Alphonso Dailey
Funding decisions will be made locally. The new plan is designed within fiscal constraints of the money that would be raised through a 1/2 cent sales tax and vehicle registration fee increase. This 1/2 cent sales tax would generate at least $69 million (for 2015) and is projected to grow by 4% annually. It would be supplemented by a $10 increase in vehicle registration fees, state and federal funding.
Wake County is Behind Other Counties
Durham and Orange County leaders and voters have already taken decisive action to advance bus and rail transit in their counties. In 2011, Durham voters approved a half-cent sales tax ballot, followed by Orange County approval in 2012. These counties are already collecting sales tax for transit and are expanding their bus systems and are beginning planning for light rail between Chapel Hill and Durham. This new plan is a key step forward for Wake County!
Next Steps for the Plan
County staff are still accepting public input throughout this spring, so if you haven’t had a chance to voice your thoughts, do so today at www.waketransit.com! Later this spring we expect the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), GoTriangle and the Wake County Board of Commissioners to approve the plan. The County Commission is expected to vote to put this plan on the ballot for a referendum in November.
In order for these elected officials to put the referendum on the ballot, they need to know that the public supports the plan. Let your local Wake County Commissioners, Mayors and City Councilors know that transit is important to our future!
Your Voice Matters Now!
There are still opportunities to SpeakUP and give input on the plan!
If you would like to have a presentation on the Wake transit scenarios presented to a group or business, please contact David Powe at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From top left: Bonner Gaylord, Raleigh City Councilman/General Manager of North Hills | Michael J. Munn, President of the John R. McAdams Co. | Karen Rindge, Executive Director of WakeUP Wake County | Asa Fleming, Realtor for Coldwell Banker Advantage | Sheila H. Ogle, Owner of Ogle Enterprises, LLC | Matt Calabria, Wake County Commissioner | Courtney A. Crowder, Principal of Crowder Consulting Co.