Keep an eye out: What Wake voters will get from transit tax in FY 2018

In November, Wake County voters approved a half-cent sales tax dedicated to paying for transit initiatives. The tax, which started April 1, is expected to generate $94.3 million in revenues in its first fiscal year. About $10.6 million of that will go into the operating fund and pay for improvements to bus service, among other things. About $83.7 million is headed to the capital fund, with $63.5 million going into savings for future projects and $20.2 million paying for current projects. Here is a look at some of the projects slated for Fiscal Year 2018.

Expanded bus service

IN CARY

  • $476,182 Increase Sunday service all routes
  • $362,340 Increase specific midday routes
  • $100,000 Lease expansion vehicles

IN RALEIGH

  • $1.3 million Increase Sunday service spans
  • $193,875 Increase South Saunders Street route frequency to 15 minutes all day

IN EASTERN WAKE

  • $43,000 Continue Knightdale express route service
  • $5,516 Lease Zebulon park-and-ride lot
  • $4,200 Lease Wendell park-and-ride lot

AT GOTRIANGLE

  • $910,290 Add midday, evening and weekend service to Route 300 (Raleigh-Cary) and continue peak-hour service previously funded by NCDOT Fortify project
  • $433,080 Increase frequency of Route 100
  • $406,220 Continue Fuquay-Varina express route

IN WAKE COUNTY

  • $175,000 Continue TRACS operations for rural residents
  • $1.9 million into reserves, with the remainder of the $10.6 million paying for salaries and administration

New projects

  • $4.3 million A Major Investment Study to aid development of high-capacity transit corridors for both the bus rapid transit projects and the rail corridor. About $2.3 million of that will be used to refine the concepts once the MIS is complete.
  • $4 million Eight buses for GoRaleigh, which hopes to buy compressed natural gas models
  • $4 million Eight low-floor buses for GoTriangle
  • $2.7 million First phase of designing the Raleigh Union Station bus facility
  • $1.5 million Construction of compressed natural gas refueling station at GoRaleigh bus operations facility
  • $1.3 million Multi-Year Service Implementation Plan that will take the transit plan vision and create procedures for prioritizing and managing bus projects, standards for designing and evaluating bus routes and 10-year service plans for each operating agency
  • $1.1 million Construction and implementation of GoRaleigh park-and-ride facility on Poole Road
  • $1 million Design of GoCary operations and maintenance facility
  • $875,000 Comprehensive operations plan for downtown Raleigh to evaluate best multimodal network
  • $500,000 15 ADA-compliant bus shelters, including the engineering and design work and right-of-way acquisition, for GoRaleigh
  • $495,000 New infrastructure for GoCary to make bus stops ADA-compliant and to improve benches, bike racks and sidewalks
  • $300,000 Downtown Cary Multimodal Facility Feasibility Study on providing a local and regional bus transfer hub, bus rapid transit terminus/station, commuter rail station, Amtrak station and park-and-ride lot/garage
  • $200,000 Conceptual design for GoTriangle bus maintenance facility
  • $175,000 Community Funding Area plan that sets up processes for Wake County municipalities to apply for transit funding
  • $35,000 Web-based customer feedback system

For a printable PDF of this information, click here.

Fuquay-Varina–Raleigh Express Route Eases Commute into Work, Offers More Access to Education, Jobs

Although Fuquay-Varina’s population is growing at a fast clip—about 4 percent annually—some residents say their ride to work in downtown Raleigh has gotten less stressful as they are no longer fighting traffic themselves.

Jeanne Flynn, who commutes to her job at Wake County Information Services, says since she started riding the Fuquay-Varina–Raleigh Express bus rather than driving her car, she has gained more personal time. Now she drives her car for three minutes from her house to a park-and-ride lot, then rides the bus to about a block from work.

“I have only been riding the bus since last fall,” she says. “Before that I hadn’t taken the time to realize how easy and convenient it was. I can use my commute to read, get a jump on emails or do paperwork.  The commute by car takes about 35 minutes, if I leave by 7 a.m.  The bus trip from the time I leave my house until I get back to work takes about an hour, maybe a little less.  So there is slightly more time because we need to stop and pick up people, or drop them off . . .  but it’s time I can use to be productive rather than just sitting in traffic.”

Besides catching up on work, other benefits of her new ride include socializing with people, reducing the wear-and-tear on her car, saving gas and reading for pleasure.

The Fuquay-Varina–Raleigh Express bus and the park-and-ride lot are just some of the many benefits Wake County residents will experience through collaborations between cities, towns and Wake County as the Wake County Transit Plan moves ahead. Originally funded through a N.C. Department of Transportation grant designed to help alleviate congestion caused by the Fortify construction project on Interstate 40 and Interstate 440, the route was created as a temporary solution set to expire in June 2017. In order to support convenient access to the route for commuters, the Town of Fuquay-Varina built a park-and-ride lot located by the town’s Community Center and South Park.

Paula Seldes, assistant clerk of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, says the Fuquay-Varina–Raleigh Express is both a stress-buster and a money-saver. Although her door-to-door commuting time is now longer than when she used her car, she says she actually prefers to take the bus.

“The reason I like using the bus service is I was finding the driving stressful—due to increased traffic on my commute from Fuquay-Varina on 401, my drive had become stressful,” she says. “One day I was driving in the dark and rain, and I saw the bus and I said to myself, ‘I’m not going to drive anymore!’

“I use my time to read or to chat with other riders. My commute when I drove took around 40 minutes, more in bad weather. Now, it is a longer day. The morning actual driving/riding time is 40 [minutes] on the bus, plus I have a 10-minute walk to my office, [the] Dobbs Building on North Salisbury; plus, I get to the bus stop a few minutes early. But I gladly take that extra time—I’m more relaxed when I get to work as I haven’t had to worry about driving and changing lanes et cetera—especially in the winter when it is dark.”

Seldes says perhaps the most important reason she takes the bus is the cost. “The state subsidizes the ticket price, and I’m saving gas and wear and tear on my car. My roundtrip was 39 miles. Now, it’s 8 miles roundtrip.”

The Fuquay-Varina–Raleigh Express bus route has helped many Fuquay-Varina residents by reducing their commuting costs, agrees Jim Seymour, the Town of Fuquay-Varina’s Economic Development Director. He says the route has also increased residents’ access to employment, healthcare and educational opportunities, and improved their quality of life.

“For residents who do not have direct access to personal transportation, this service has filled their transportation void by providing a low-cost, efficient transportation service,” he says. “For those residents who do have access to a personal transportation and want to reduce their transportation out-of-pocket costs, this service has reduced typical transportation costs—travel time, operating costs and parking facility costs. For some households, it offers the opportunity to lower the cost of vehicle ownership by transitioning from a two-vehicle to one-vehicle household.”

The route gives residents greater access between two different job markets, he says. “For those who do not have use of a personal vehicle, this service has helped to increase employment throughout Fuquay-Varina. The bus service’s direct connection to the downtown Raleigh market provides greater job opportunities.”

Riders also gain a low-cost way to access Raleigh/Durham’s world-renowned community college system and research universities, he says. The Fuquay-Varina route will continue to be an option for commuters as it is included in the Wake Transit FY 18 Draft Work Plan, which lays out funding for early improvements to the 10-year Wake Transit Plan. Over the decade, the transit plan promises to make commuting options even more convenient, with a tripling of countywide bus service, an expansion of routes running every 15 minutes or less and new bus rapid transit and commuter rail systems. Accessibility will be enhanced with a transit stop within three-quarters of a mile of 54 percent of the homes and 80 percent of the jobs in Wake County.

Public Comments to Shape Wake County Transit Plan

Thanks to the many Wake County residents who came out to public meetings last month to share their thoughts on the Wake Transit Fiscal Year 2018 Draft Work Plan or who commented on the plan through waketransit.com.  More than 50 individual comments as well as letters from agencies, municipalities and coalitions were received.

All comments are being considered by the Transit Planning Advisory Committee (TPAC), which is now reviewing the Draft Work Plan. TPAC is made up of representatives from all Wake County municipalities as well as GoTriangle, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Wake County, NC State University and Research Triangle Park. Its role is to implement the Wake County Transit Plan.

The Draft Work Plan (for fiscal year July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018) outlines improvements such as expanding bus routes and increasing bus service proposed in first year of the 10-year Wake County Transit Plan. These improvements will enhance transit options across Wake County and the Triangle region.

The comment period began on Feb. 20 and ended on April 3. The TPAC is taking the public feedback into consideration as its members collaborate on finalizing the FY18 Draft Work Plan before July 1. After the TPAC review, the final work plan will be sent to the CAMPO and GoTriangle boards for approval before the beginning of the fiscal year.

Over the next 10 years, the transit plan proposes to triple countywide bus service, expand routes running every 15 minutes or less, and create bus rapid transit and commuter rail systems. Wake County residents can look forward to a transit stop within three-quarters of a mile of 54 percent of the homes and 80 percent of the jobs in the county.

To learn more about the Wake County Transit Plan, click here.

 

Comment on the Work Plan!

 

Community Investment in a Better Wake County Transit System Begins

Wake County, N.C. (March 31, 2017) April 1 marks the beginning of the community’s new investment in a better public transit system for Wake County as the transit-dedicated half-cent sales tax that voters approved in November goes into effect.

As early as this summer, money from the new investment will allow the Wake County Transit Plan to offer improved bus stops, more park-and-ride options and expanded midday, evening and weekend bus service in Raleigh and Cary and to Raleigh Durham International Airport and Research Triangle Park. Public feedback from a comment period that ends April 3 will help shape the initial transit investments.

Over the next 10 years, the transit plan promises to make commuting options even more convenient, with a tripling of countywide bus service, an expansion of routes running every 15 minutes or less and new bus rapid transit and commuter rail systems. Accessibility will be enhanced with a transit stop within three quarters of a mile of 54 percent of the homes and 80 percent of the jobs in Wake County.

“Wake County has more than a million residents, and that number is growing by an estimated 450 people every week,” said Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Sig Hutchinson. “Projects funded through the Wake County Transit Plan will make commuting options more frequent, reliable and easier to use. We are thrilled to see this investment begin to take shape and look forward to the enhancements it promises for the community.”

Those enhancements will better connect Wake County residents and visitors to work places, schools and health care providers, among other important places.

“The enhanced transit system will provide community members greater access to needed services in education, healthcare and commerce,” said Shaw University President Tashni-Ann Dubroy. “This opens the identity and offerings of the downtown area to a broader cross-section of residents – an action that will reap great dividends for our City and its citizenry for years to come.”

The initial investment between 2017 and 2018 will focus on adding service to existing transit routes, upgrading transit stops and, for future expanded service, ordering new buses, which can take nearly two years to arrive. A portion of the new transit-dedicated sales tax also will go toward longer-term projects such as commuter rail and bus rapid transit systems.

Selected project proposals for 2017-18 include:

  • Expanding Monday through Friday service frequency to every 15 minutes for the GoRaleigh 7 route and expanding Sunday service on all existing routes.
  • Expanding mid-day service frequency for GoCary routes 3, 4, 5 and 6 and adding Sunday service on all existing routes.
  • Increasing frequency to every 30 minutes on GoTriangle route 100 between Raleigh, Raleigh-Durham International Airport and Research Triangle Park.
  • Increasing frequency, days of operation and hours of service on GoTriangle route 300 between Cary and Raleigh.
  • Significantly increasing door-to-door service for rural residents through
  • Continuing express bus routes to Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon.

The Fuquay-Varina Express Route initially was funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation as a temporary service to help mitigate the traffic effects of the Fortify I-40/440 rebuild project. The Wake County Transit Plan would continue the route when the Fortify project and NCDOT funding end. Fuquay-Varina has built a park-and-ride lot to support transit efforts.

“This is a great, early example of how municipalities in Wake County will be able to secure enhanced transit options for residents under the plan,” said Fuquay-Varina Town Manager Adam Mitchell.  “Projects like this will allow our ​residents to see their investment in action and take advantage of its benefits early on in the 10-year timeline.”

The Transit Planning Advisory Committee is tasked with implementing the Wake County Transit Plan. Representatives of GoTriangle, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Research Triangle Foundation, NC State and Wake County and all 12 of its municipalities, including the City of Raleigh and the Town of Cary, are members.

Over the next decade, the Wake County Transit Plan will:

  • Add a network of more than 80 miles of service that runs every 15 minutes or less.
  • Create 20 miles of bus rapid transit (BRT) infrastructure in some highly congested corridors of Wake County that includes dedicated bus lanes to bypass traffic and new stations with raised platforms so passengers with wheelchairs, strollers or bicycles can more easily board buses.
  • Build a 37-mile commuter rail transit (CRT) system connecting Garner and Durham with stops in downtown Raleigh, including NC State University; Cary; Morrisville; and Research Triangle Park. Commuter rail uses existing NC railroad tracks to provide a comfortable alternative to driving during peak rush hours.

Wake Transit Funding

In addition to the voter-approved half-cent sales tax, funding for the Wake County Transit Plan includes:

  • A $7 Wake County vehicle registration tax set to begin in July.
  • An $8 regional registration tax, which will increase from the current $5 tax in August.
  • Additional state, federal and other revenue sources available for transit projects.

The draft Wake County Transit Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2018 is available online at www.waketransit.com. Follow our progress on Twitter (@WakeTransit) or subscribe to the Wake Transit blog to receive email updates.

Public Encouraged to Comment on First Improvements in Wake County’s Transit Plan

Research Triangle Park, NC (March 13, 2017) – Wake County residents are encouraged to participate in a series of public meetings this month to learn more about the Fiscal Year (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018) Wake Transit Draft Work Plan. It outlines the improvements, such as expanding bus routes and increasing bus service, proposed in first year of the 10-year plan to enhance Wake County’s transit system. Para mayor información.

The meetings, which are listed below, also offer residents the opportunity to share their thoughts about the draft plan with local transit planners. The feedback received will be considered as the draft work plan is finalized.

Monday, March 20, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Chavis Community Center, 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Raleigh, NC 27601

Tuesday, March 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Carolina Pines Community Center, 2305 Lake Wheeler Road, Raleigh NC 27603

Wednesday, March 22, 4:30-7 p.m.
Wake County Northern Regional Center, Room 153, 350 E. Holding Ave. Wake Forest, NC 27587

Thursday, March 23, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Barwell Road Community Center, 5857 Barwell Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610

Monday, March 27, 3:30-6 p.m.
Cary Train Station, 211 N Academy St, Cary, NC 27511

Tuesday, March 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Millbrook Exchange Center, 1905 Spring Forest Road, Raleigh, NC 27615

Wednesday, March 29, 4:30-7 p.m.
Wake County Eastern Regional Center, Conference Room, 1002 Dogwood Dr, Zebulon, NC 27597

Thursday, March 30, 4:30-7 p.m.
Wake County Southern Regional Center, Room 182, 130 N. Judd Parkway NE Fuquay-Varina, NC

The public meetings will be held by the Transit Planning Advisory Committee, a team charged with implementing the adopted Wake County Transit Plan. Members from all Wake County municipalities, GoTriangle, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Wake County, NC State University and the Research Triangle Park comprise the TPAC.

Residents who cannot attend one of the meetings can comment on the FY 18 Draft Work Plan by visiting waketransit.com or contacting David Powe, GoTriangle Public Outreach Specialist, at dpowe@gotriangle.org or 919-485-7522. Printed copies of the draft work plan will be available at all Wake County public libraries. For a list of locations visit, www.wakegov.com/libraries/locations/. The public can comment on the draft work plan through April 3, 2017.

The Wake County Transit Plan will be implemented over a 10-year period and includes tripling existing bus service, creating Bus Rapid Transit corridors, and a commuter rail connection between Garner, Raleigh, Cary, RTP and Durham.

To learn more about the Wake County Transit Plan, visit, waketransit.com.

Wake County Transit Plan is Moving Forward

Today, the GoTriangle Board of Trustees approved a $3 increase to the Annual Motor Vehicle Tax in Wake County to partially fund the 10-year Wake County Transit Plan. The board’s action follows earlier approval today by GoTriangle’s Special Tax Board.

The Annual Motor Vehicle Tax is outlined in the Wake Transit Fiscal Year 18 Draft Work Plan that was released earlier this week for public comment. The FY 18 Draft Work Plan outlines specific proposals, and the governing agencies are requesting public comment between Feb. 20, 2017, and April 3, 2017. Each year, there will be a new plan with plenty of time to comment on the projects within it.

Funds from the vehicle license tax will help pay for Wake Transit Plan improvements that will be phased in over a 10-year period. The plan includes a tripling of bus service, four Bus Rapid Transit Corridors and Commuter Rail service connecting Garner, Raleigh, Cary, RTP and Durham.

To comment on the FY 18 Draft Annual Work Plan, visit, www.waketransit.com/fy18-work-plan/, or contact David Powe, Public Outreach Specialist, at dpowe@gotriangle.org or 919-485-7522. To learn more about the Wake Transit Plan, visit, http://www.waketransit.com/transitplan.

Wake County Commissioners Take Next Steps with Transit Plan Funding

The Wake County Board of Commissioners on Dec. 5 took action to authorize two key funding sources for the Wake County Transit Plan.

They include:

  • A $3 increase in the Regional Transit Authority Registration Tax; and
  • A new $7 Wake County Vehicle Registration Tax.

These local funding sources are in addition to the one-half percent local sales and use tax referendum passed by voters in the 2016 General Election.

Regional Transit Authority Registration Tax

Since 1991, a $5 Regional Transit Authority Registration Tax has been collected annually on qualifying motor vehicle registrations in Durham, Orange and Wake counties to fund transportation services in these three counties. The board’s action authorizes increasing that tax to $8 and would go into effect for registration renewal offers mailed in July 2017.

The additional $3 would be used to fund the Wake County Transit Plan only. The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles would collect the tax and provide it to GoTriangle. It is estimated that a full year of funding will result in approximately $2.5 million of new revenue.

Following the Wake County Commission’s authorization, the tax increase will now go before the GoTriangle Special Tax Board and Board of Trustees for approval, which is expected to take place in January 2017.

Wake County Vehicle Registration Tax

The new $7 Wake County Vehicle Registration Tax would be charged on all qualifying motor vehicles registered in Wake County. Upon execution of the Implementation Agreement also approved on December 5, NCDMV would collect the tax and remit it to GoTriangle for the implementation of the Wake County Transit Plan.

The new tax is estimated to generate about $6 million over the course of a full year. The new tax would go into effect for registration renewal offers mailed in July 2017.

For more information on the funding of the Wake County Transit Plan, visit www.waketransit.com/transitplan.

Voters Approve Wake County Transit Plan Referendum

In the 2016 General Election, Wake County voters made their voices heard and approved a one-half cent local sales and use tax referendum to fund the Wake County Transit Plan.

The transit plan will help residents get where they need to go more easily. It will provide improved connections within Wake County and across the Triangle region through expanded bus service and commuter rail from Garner to Durham.

What Happens Next?

Over the next few months, the GoTriangle Board of Trustees will take the steps necessary to put the sales tax increase into effect in Wake County. It is expected that the additional tax will be collected starting in spring 2017.

Once GoTriangle begins collection of the tax, residents and visitors will start to see parts of the plan come to life, such as increased bus service in certain corridors, increased frequencies on some existing routes and extended bus service hours. Other steps such as implementation of dedicated lanes and stations for bus rapid transit and commuter rail will take place over the middle to later years of the 10-year plan.

 

 

How Will the Wake Transit Plan be Implemented?

During this election cycle, Wake County voters will see a referendum on their general election ballot for a one-half percent local sales tax increase to partially fund the Wake County Transit Plan.

The referendum is a major step towards the funding that will be required for the plan. If voters approve the referendum, the partner agencies that helped develop the plan will be ready to begin implementing the plan, bringing improved and expanded transit service to Wake County as funding from the referendum and other sources becomes available.

With so many agencies involved in transit in the county, how will this plan roll out, and who will lead the effort?

That is where the Transit Governance Interlocal Agreement comes in. The Interlocal Agreement, or ILA for short, spells out agency roles and responsibilities, and ensures that tax dollars generated by the sales tax increase will be used for their intended purpose – to fund the Wake County Transit Plan. The ILA will also guide the planning, funding and construction of the plan.

For example, it establishes that the GoTriangle Board of Trustees and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Executive Board will jointly set the direction of transit investment.  The ILA also requires that all parties involved in the transit plan review and approve planning documents on an annual basis. In addition, it also guides the public outreach and involvement process to ensure transparency with residents as the plan is implemented.

Having this agreement allows all partners to be ready to begin implementing the plan as soon as possible if voters approve the referendum in November. For more information on the ILA, and to view the document, visit waketransit.com/ila.

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.