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.

What’s This About Bus Rapid Transit?

BRT. You will likely be hearing this acronym a lot more in coming months. BRT stands for Bus Rapid Transit, and in many circles, it is considered the future of urban transportation. It provides frequent, reliable service, and is cheaper to build and run than light rail.

BRT is used all over the world in places like Brisbane, Australia; Curitiba, Brazil; and Bogota, Colombia. It’s also used in Chicago, Boston and other U.S. cities, including Jacksonville, Fla., where the transportation authority broke ground on a new BRT system in November 2014. In fact, one of Jacksonville’s new buses was on display at our open house on Dec. 8, as it was en route from California to its new home!

BRT from open house 12.8.15

The Recommended Wake County Transit Plan includes about 20 miles of BRT-related infrastructure improvements. Four initial corridors have been identified, along Western Boulevard, Capital Boulevard, New Bern Avenue and South Wilmington Street.

What’s great about BRT is that it provides frequent service and reliable schedules. It uses several techniques to keep buses on schedule, such as:

  • Dedicated bus lanes;
  • Priority treatment at traffic signals; and
  • Station-like stops with ticket machines to speed boarding and make it easier for passengers with wheelchairs, strollers or bicycles to get on and off the bus.

Take a look at these videos to get a better sense of how BRT works. It’s fun to see it operating in other places and know it could be running here in the future.

Spreading the Word

We are busy spreading the word about the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan. Commissioners and staff are hard at work, making presentations and distributing brochures to help citizens and businesses understand the transit plan and how it will connect all Wake County communities.

Tim presenting 12.8.15

Our brochure is available in English and Spanish. Please feel free to download it or pass it along to anyone you know who is interested in the plan. If you would like a small stack of brochures to display or distribute, please let us know.

11x17 Recommended Transit Brochure_Web English Version_Page_2

We are distributing them through various town and city halls and chambers of commerce around Wake County, as well as Wake County libraries, parks and human services facilities. Our partner agencies with bus service, including GoTriangle, GoRaleigh, C-Tran and Wolfline, will have brochures, along with information about their own services.

We also are busy with community presentations. If you belong to a group or know of a group that would like a presentation, please contact us.  We have presented to the Wake County Planning Board, Raleigh City Council, Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors’ Government Affairs Committee, Wake County Legislative Delegation, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church and municipal managers.

Here’s a look at what we’ve got coming up:

Feb. 12: Millbrook Human Services’ Community Advisory Council, 9 a.m.

Feb. 23: Morrisville Town Council, 6:30 p.m.

March 1: Holly Springs Town Council, 7 p.m.

March 10: Presentation to Cary Town Council, 6:30 p.m.

March 15: Wake Forest Town Commissioners, 7 p.m.

March 16: Knightdale Town Council, 7 p.m.

March 22: Wake Citizens Advisory Council, 7 p.m.

We’ll keep you posted on other presentations as we add them to our calendar!

Recommended Wake County Transit Plan Unveiled

The Recommended Wake County Transit Plan is here! The plan was officially unveiled at a public open house on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, at the Raleigh Convention Center.

What’s in the plan?
Developed over the past year, the Recommended Transit Plan is the culmination of more than 250 community presentations and meetings, and feedback from more than 4,300 citizens and stakeholders. It provides:

  • Stronger regional connections with more express bus services and a new, 37-mile commuter rail system from Garner to Durham, offering stops in Garner, downtown Raleigh, NC State, Cary, Morrisville and Research Triangle Park. The commuter rail would operate in the existing NC Railroad corridor shared with freight and Amtrak trains.
  • New or improved linkages among all 12 Wake County municipalities, with new bus connections from all towns to downtown Raleigh, and new bus service between some smaller communities. The plan recommends longer hours, more routes that reach farther into the community and more frequent service. It also will link colleges and universities to employment centers, medical centers, dense residential areas and major downtowns.
  • Frequent, reliable bus service in urban areas with bus rapid transit (BRT), which runs every 15 minutes during peak hours and uses several techniques to stay on schedule, such as dedicated bus lanes, priority treatment at traffic signals and stations designed to speed boarding. The plan also expands the existing frequent bus services (buses that arrive at least every 15 minutes) in the most densely populated parts of Raleigh and Cary from the current 17 miles to 83 miles over a 10-year period.
  • Options for better local bus service in all municipalities through matching funds to those towns that choose to develop and operate local bus service, and expanded funding to the current Transportation and Rural Access (TRACS) demand-response service throughout the county.

What is the estimated cost of the plan?
It will cost about $2.3 billion to build and operate the elements of this plan over the first 10 years. That figure includes federal, state and other local dollars, including existing funding.
What are the next steps?
In the coming months, staff will work on the governance details of the plan’s implementation. The plan will be finalized and considered for adoption, likely in spring 2016, by three governing boards:

  1. Wake County Board of Commissioners;
  2. GoTriangle Board of Trustees; and
  3. Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) Executive Committee.

Upon adoption, Wake County Commissioners will take the necessary actions to place the half-cent sales tax authorization on the Nov. 8, 2016, ballot for voter approval.

Are you accepting public comments on the plan?
Yes! You are welcome to share your thoughts on the plan by filling out a comment card at any Wake Transit event, or you can email your feedback to waketransit@wakegov.com. We will accept input until the spring, when the boards are expected to formally adopt the plan.

How can I learn more?
Read the plan here.

 

Mark Your Calendar: Recommended Transit Plan to be Unveiled

The Wake County Transit Plan partners and the consultants are currently completing work on the Recommended Wake County Transit Plan. They will officially share it with the public for the first time on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015.

It is anticipated that the plan would be adopted this spring when the Wake County Board of Commissioners will consider placing a half-cent sales tax referendum on the November 2016 ballot.

Interested citizens are encouraged to come to an open house on Dec. 8 from 4–8 p.m. at the Raleigh Convention Center, located at 500 S. Salisbury St. in downtown Raleigh, to learn more about the plan.

There is no formal presentation planned; drop by any time during the event to ask questions of staff and gain a better understanding of the benefits the plan offers.

The plan promises to change the face of public transportation around Wake County. Highlights of the plan will include:

  • Significantly Expanded Bus Service: With an improved and expanded bus system, buses will run more frequently over a longer period and cover a wider area.
  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT): These buses will provide riders with reliable, fast transportation using a mix of technology, dedicated lanes, and other tools and techniques to move around congestion and stay on schedule.
  • Commuter Rail Transit (CRT): This method offers a way to use existing rail corridors to create train connections around the community and region.

Our partnership built this plan based on feedback and input from the public and key stakeholders, as well as extensive technical and financial analysis. Through meetings, websites and social media over the past year, thousands of people contributed great thoughts and ideas. The consultants and partners are using them as a foundation for the recommended plan.

Advisory Committee Meets Again

The Transit Advisory Committee (TAC) will meet Thursday, October 22, 2015, to provide direction for the development of a single draft transit plan.

As you will recall, the TAC is a group of 72 community members, created by the Transit Strategy funding partners. The goals and vision generated by the committee have been used to frame the plan components presented to the public.

At this meeting the group will hear responses and reaction to the four example options presented to the public in May 2015. The example options were specifically developed to allow the community to provide input on the trade-offs that exist in transit investment. The Transit Advisory Committee will provide the direction for the development of a single draft plan specifically addressing the amount of investment focused on infrastructure, transit service, high frequency routes and express routes.

The TAC is led by the Transit Strategy consultant team Jarrett Walker and Associates and Kimley Horn.

All interested parties are invited to attend all or a portion of the meeting and observe the work of the TAC. Consultants and staff will be available to answer observer questions during breaks and TAC activities.

 

Outreach Update

The second phase of a three-part transit strategy toward the Community Transit Investment PlanSept 2015 Transit Outreach
is wrapping up. This summer has been focused on engaging the public and key stakeholders in meaningful ways and will utilize their feedback in the development of a final plan.

 

Outreach was and is a key part of the effort to gather feedback – and we’ve had a tremendous level of participation.

The graphic to the right shows Outreach by the Numbers.

255+ Events: The kick off meetings, community meetings, elected board meetings and booths at fairs and festivals.

16,700+ Video Views:  These are online views only – an important way to reach those that could not attend a meeting or event. We do not have a measure of how many people viewed the videos on cable access channels, but the videos have played on public access channels (most stations daily) in English and Spanish.

4,300+ Survey Participation:  These are people who went online and provided feedback – or their paper survey has been added by the transit partners. More paper copies are still being added, including surveys from all Wake County Libraries and on our current transit routes.

To support the collection of feedback, we shared information on social media (from @WakeTransit and partner agencies). In addition, we utilized GoRaleigh exterior advertising and GoTriangle, GoRaleigh, Wolfline and C-Tran interior advertising and provided brochures and print surveys on many Wake County routes.

In the next few weeks technical staff will be reviewing the feedback that has come in so far. If you’d like to share your thoughts, we are still glad to hear from you!