Wake County Transit Plan Referendum on 2016 General Election Ballot

transit-votingIn the 2016 General Election, voters will see a referendum on their ballot for a one-half percent (1/2%) local sales tax increase to partially fund public transportation systems.

This additional tax, along with local, state, and federal dollars, as well as farebox revenue, will fund the implementation of the Wake County Transit Plan. Local funding would also include increased vehicle registration fees.

The Wake County Transit Plan is estimated to cost about $2.3 billion to build and implement over its first 10 years of operation.

The goals of the plan are to:

  • Connect the region;
  • Connect all Wake County communities;
  • Create frequent, reliable urban mobility; and
  • Enhance access to transit.

The Wake County Board of Elections has educational resources available online for voters. You can view your ballot for the Nov. 8 election, find your polling location and check your voter registration information.

If you have any questions regarding election processes and procedures, please contact the Board of Elections at 919-856-6240.

GoTriangle Videos Give Inside Look at BRT and CRT

The Wake County Transit Plan is designed to better connect our growing community and enhance how we get to work, school, medical appointments and other key destinations. While the plan includes an increase in bus service throughout the county, it also includes two projects that would bring new transit options to our area.

The Wake County Transit Plan, if funded, introduces Commuter Rail Transit (CRT) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to the region, and incorporates new and existing bus service to complement these options.  This November, the half-cent sales tax referendum will be on the ballot. The sales tax is the primary funding source for implementing the transit plan.

Many places across the country have already invested in similar interconnected, regional transit networks that use a combination of bus, bus rapid transit, commuter rail and other modes, all working together.

In a pair of recently published videos, posted below, GoTriangle takes us for a ride on the Bus Rapid Transit and Commuter Rail lines in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to show what both look like in other cities. The videos also introduce us to Michael London and Shaun Simmons Smith, two commuters who rely on these modes of transportation every day.  London and Simmons Smith both credit the frequency, speed and reliability of BRT and commuter rail in making their commutes easier and stress-free.

As a community growing by approximately 64 people per day, Wake County is one of the fastest growing areas in the nation. We’ve worked with local stakeholders to develop a transit plan that will fit the needs of our community.

New Brochures Now Available!

With the recent adoption of the Wake County Transit Plan and the upcoming sales tax referendum on the ballot this November, our team is on the move, making sure all residents have access to the latest information regarding the plan.

Updated transit plan brochures have been distributed throughout Wake County to our local transit systems; chambers of commerce; town and city government offices; and county libraries, parks and public health locations. The new brochures will also be available at upcoming farmers’ markets and various festivals, and used during presentations made about the plan to local organizations.

Want to view it now? You can check out the new brochure online in English and Spanish.

We have also made important changes to this website. In addition to hosting the plan document, the Wake County Transit Plan page of this site now features an overview of what the plan includes, such as the installation of Bus Rapid Transit corridors, expansion and increased frequency of current bus service, and the launch of commuter rail, which will connect communities throughout our growing region.

Our goal is to make sure that all Wake County residents are informed. You can help by sharing this information with your friends and family.

If you would like a presentation about the plan or know of any groups in your area that would be interested in learning more, please contact Tim Maloney, director of Wake County Planning, Development and Inspections, at 919-856-6678 or tmaloney@wakegov.com.

Wake County Transit Plan Officially Adopted

The Wake County Board of Commissioners voted to officially adopt the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan on Monday, June 6. They join the governing boards of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and GoTriangle, which approved the plan and corresponding Transit Governance Interlocal Agreement in May.

The implementation of the transit plan depends upon obtaining funding. In addition to adopting the plan, the board also voted to authorize placing a one-half percent (1/2%) local sales tax referendum on the Nov. 8, 2016, ballot. Upon GoTriangle placing the referendum on the ballot and approval by voters, this funding would be used to finance the implementation of the transit plan.

In the first full fiscal year of the plan, the sales tax collected and allocated for the plan is estimated at $78.5 million. In accordance with state law, the proceeds of the tax may only be used for the implementation of the transit plan.

Now that the recommended plan has officially been adopted, transit partners will continue to go out in the community to educate residents on the plan. As always, we welcome any feedback, questions or comments on the Wake County Transit Plan. Feel free to contact us at 919-856-5477 or at waketransit@wakegov.com.

Wake County to Hold Public Hearings June 6 for Recommended Transit Plan

With approval from the governing boards of the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and GoTriangle in May, the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan will now go before the Wake County Board of Commissioners for consideration. Before the commissioners vote on the plan during their regular meeting on Monday, June 6, they will hold a public hearing to allow the public to share their thoughts on the plan with the board.

The hearing will take place during the regular meeting that starts at 2 p.m. in the Commissioners Board Room of the Wake County Justice Center, located at 301 S. McDowell St. in Raleigh. Following the hearing, the Board of Commissioners will hold their vote on the recommended plan. Should the board vote to approve the plan, a second public hearing will take place at the meeting regarding the board’s ability to place a one-half cent sales tax increase on the November ballot. The board will then vote on this action after this public hearing.

Residents interested in providing comments at the hearings should sign in before the meeting starts. Anyone unable to attend can submit comments in advance of the hearings via email at waketransit@wakegov.com or by calling 919-856-5477. The Board of Commissioners meeting will be broadcast live on Raleigh Television Network (RTN) Channel 11 and on the Board of Commissioners web page.

GoTriangle Board Approves Recommended Wake County Transit Plan

The GoTriangle Board of Trustees on May 25 unanimously voted to approve the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan and to enter into an interlocal agreement with Wake County and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). This is the second of three votes needed to formally adopt the plan and put it on the ballot this fall.

“We enthusiastically back the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan, an important investment in more transportation choices and better connections for our rapidly growing region,” said GoTriangle Board of Trustees Member Fred Day, who represents Wake County. “Through this plan, more frequent bus service will cover larger areas and span longer hours.”

With CAMPO and GoTriangle’s approval, the plan will now go before the Wake County Board of Commissioners for consideration at its meeting on Monday, June 6. This meeting will take place at 2 p.m. in the Commissioners Board Room of the Wake County Justice Center, located at 301 S. McDowell St. in Raleigh.

Heading Toward Plan Adoption

The Recommended Wake County Transit Plan is one step closer to formal approval and adoption.

At a public hearing on Wednesday, May 18, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Executive Board unanimously approved the recommended plan. The CAMPO board includes mayors and city/town council members focused on local transportation issues. This hearing marked the end of CAMPO and GoTriangle’s 30-day public comment period for the recommended plan, which included a series of public information sessions across the county.

Next, the plan will go before the GoTriangle Board of Trustees for their consideration on Wednesday, May 25. Upon approval, it will then go before the Wake County Board of Commissioners for consideration at their meeting on Monday, June 6. This meeting will take place at 2 p.m. in the Commissioners Board Room of the Wake County Justice Center, located at 301 S. McDowell St. in Raleigh.

As always, we welcome your input on the recommended transit plan. If you have any questions or comments, contact us at 919-856-5477 or waketransit@wakegov.com.

Tell Us What You Think

 

The Recommended Wake County Transit Plan is all about improving how you get around. It is designed to give you options for traveling that don’t include sitting in traffic, while working with your busy schedule.  We want to make sure that we are developing the best possible plan for Wake County, and receiving your comments and opinions is an important part of that process.

Now is the time to make your voice heard and let us know what you think about the recommended plan. A 30-day public comment period started Monday, April 18. During this time, several public information sessions will take place throughout the county, giving residents a chance to learn more about the plan, ask questions and submit comments. Residents will also be able to learn about the draft Interlocal Agreement, which guides implementation and operations of the plan, and sets roles and responsibilities across participating agencies.

Information sessions:

  • Monday, May 2, 47 p.m.
    Wake County Southern Regional Center, Room 182
    130 N Judd Parkway NE, Fuquay-Varina
  • Thursday, May 5, 47 p.m.
    Apex Community Center, Summit Room
    53 Hunter St., Apex
  • Monday, May 9, 47 p.m.
    Wake County Northern Regional Center, Room 163
    350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest
  • Monday, May 16, 47 p.m.
    Wake County Eastern Regional Center, Room 156
    1002 Dogwood Drive, Zebulon

We are also planning to have staff at local farmer’s markets and festivals around the county to help spread the word. In addition, staff continues to meet with local governments and organizations to present the plan and answer any questions.

  • April 27: Zebulon Board of Commissioners, 7 p.m.

 

May 18 Public Hearing

On Wednesday, May 18, the boards of GoTriangle and CAMPO (the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) will hold a public hearing beginning at 5 p.m. in Room 402 of the Raleigh Convention Center, located at 500 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. Residents are encouraged to attend this public hearing and provide their comments on the plan.

Both GoTriangle and CAMPO are transit plan partners, and both of their boards need to adopt the recommended plan before it can go before the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners is expected to consider the plan in June, and also consider placing the half-cent sales tax on the November ballot for voter approval. The sales tax is a large portion of the funding stream needed to implement the plan.

 

Reach Us Directly

We understand that schedules may keep you from attending a public information session or the public hearing. We also are glad to connect with you directly. Please feel free to give us a call at 919-856-5477 or send an email to waketransit@wakegov.com if you have questions or comments about the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan.

Thanks for your interest and input!

 

Planes, Trains and Buses

We are out and about in Wake County actively visiting our communities to talk transit. Our goal is to present the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan to all 12 Wake County municipalities and meet with as many citizen groups, civic clubs and other organizations interested in learning about the plan as possible.

When we talk with citizens, we pay close attention to the questions we hear. One that often comes up is about the transit plan and Raleigh-Durham International Airport, or RDU. Specifically, people want to know if there will be more service to the airport (yes) and whether the train will stop there (no).

The recommended plan boosts current express bus service from downtown Raleigh to RDU considerably, both in frequency of service (how often the bus comes) and the time span during which service is provided (longer hours). The plan also better connects all municipalities to downtown Raleigh, so travelers living in other towns will, in turn, have a better connection to the airport.

Connect Communities

As for a rail connection, the proposed commuter rail line from Garner to Durham will not have a direct stop at the airport. A stop was considered but not included for two main reasons:

  • The high cost; and
  • The community ranked other transit needs as higher priorities.

As with any long-term, comprehensive plan that covers as much area as this one does, there are trade-offs in the planning process.

As a cost-saving measure, the initial plans have commuter rail being constructed within the existing North Carolina Railroad corridor instead of laying new track and creating new corridors. The existing corridor runs about 2.5 miles south of RDU. Travelers will still be able to make fast connections to the airport, because when that stop is constructed in the future, there will be high-frequency direct bus service from that station to the airport.

Connect Regionally

Making the Connection – Commuter Rail

One of the things we’re doing as we develop a countywide transit plan is learning from other places—what works, what doesn’t and what might be the best options for us here in Wake County.

We focused on BRT (bus rapid transit) in our previous post, so today we want to provide more information on commuter rail service – another important piece of the Wake County Recommended Transit Plan.

In April, business and civic leaders will visit San Diego as part of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s annual Inter-City Visit. A major item on their agenda will be learning about San Diego’s transit services, specifically commuter rail and bus rapid transit, since the community has both.

SanDiegoCOASTERHere’s a look at San Diego’s COASTER commuter train, which serves eight stations between Oceanside and downtown San Diego.

 

 

Learning from Other Places

As noted in the Recommended Wake County Transit plan, commuter rail uses locomotives and railcars that are approved to run in close proximity to and on the same tracks as freight trains and intercity (Amtrak) passenger trains. Using existing rail lines allows extension of the system for longer distances.

As is the case with most transit services, nationally the highest ridership commuter rail networks are in the largest cities with a centralized employment center (think about New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia). These systems have generally operated for decades and helped establish the areas they serve.

Several other communities have implemented commuter rail more recently and are in situations more like ours. From these communities, we hope to learn:

  1. How to efficiently add commuter rail to our network;
  2. Best practices in integrating commuter rail service into the existing freight and intercity passenger network, so as to avoid conflicts;
  3. Key land use and policy decisions; and
  4. Opportunities to benefit from lessons learned.

Over the years, local public officials and transportation advocates have visited other cities across the country to learn about commuter rail. Some of the communities we have visited or plan to visit are:

Here’s a look at some photos taken in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City by Will Allen, who serves on the GoTriangle Board of Trustees.

 

Lessons Learned from Florida

Recently, Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann, GoTriangle General Manager Jeff Mann, North Carolina Railroad Vice President Jim Kessler and some staff members went to Florida to take a closer look at SunRail in the Greater Orlando area, a system that shares some similar characteristics to that proposed in the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan.

SunRail

Sunrail began operating on April 30, 2014. Phase 1 covers 32 miles with 12 stations along the former CSX Transportation “A” Line, connecting Volusia County and Orange County through downtown Orlando. Another phase will add more stations, and the entire corridor will stretch 61 miles.

During Wake County’s visit to Orlando, the stakeholders who helped make SunRail a reality shared the following advice:

  • Establish key partnerships early.
  • Make key decisions early on, with clear prioritization, and have key stakeholders agree and cement those decisions. .
  • Determine who can be a champion for the project at the local, state and federal levels.
  • Early branding is crucial to gathering momentum and excitement, and helps when seeking funding.

What might our commuter rail look like?

Using all of this insight, what could commuter rail look like in Wake County?

As proposed, our commuter rail corridor would start in Garner on existing rail lines, travel through downtown Raleigh, and ultimately extend to Durham, covering a total of 37 miles.

ConnectReg

Service
Based on the recommended plan, commuter rail would offer five to eight trips each way in each direction during peak hours, and one to two trips each way during the midday and evening hours.

Benefits
In today’s traffic, if you plan a trip from Raleigh to Durham at 5 p.m. using N.C. 147 and I-40, an online mapping tool indicates that the trip will take between 35 minutes and 1 hour and 20 minutes. The variation in time and the potential for delay has huge impacts for drivers. Traveling at peak times, commuter rail will move people between Raleigh and Durham on a consistent and reliable 45-minute or less schedule.