We’ve held seven events in the last two weeks to start discussion the four transit plan options with the community. These events have been well attended, and we are really excited to have gotten the opportunity to talk with several hundred people in just two weeks!
As we have been talking with people in the community, we have noticed several questions that have come up over and over. Today we are answering a few of them here as well.
If you have a question, please send it to us. We will be answering more questions on social media and through this blog in the coming weeks.
How would the transit plan options impact current bus services?
The number of days and hours of bus operations would be increased from current service with any future transit strategy. There may also be changes to existing routes. However, route changes would not happen without significant community involvement.
Where will stops and stations be located?
The four transit plan options are intentionally lacking exact route, stop and station details because they have not been developed. The more important concept for community discussion right now is the types of transit that will work for our community and the areas within our community that would be served by each option.
Not having exact routes, stops and stations helps facilitate the discussion around the needs of our entire community – and will help each of us to think beyond our individual circumstances.
How would the various transit plan options connect to the Airport?
Generally the four transit plan options will provide a much higher level of service to the airport. Today 30 to 60 minute service is available on weekdays and less frequent service is available on weekends.
Both Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) options would provide service every 30 minutes all day via I-40 and every 30 minutes all day to Morrisville (connecting to BRT). The Rail Rapid Transit (RRT) Ridership option would provide service every 15 minutes all day to Morrisville (connecting to RRT) and the RRT Coverage option would provide service every 30 minutes all day to Morrisville (connecting to RRT).
Rail and Bus Rapid Transit connections to the Raleigh-Durham Airport would require significant infrastructure improvements, making it very difficult geometrically (our Transit Consultant Jarrett Walker does a nice job of explaining geometic transit here). These challenges will be evaluated closely as a final transit plan and routes are developed.
Were other types of rail were considered?
Light rail was discussed. This mode of transportation requires electrification and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) regulations require light rail to be separated from freight tracks. This would require additional land and bridges, making this mode of transportation more expensive than other rail options.
Light rail would be difficult to implement incrementally because large expensive segments need to be implemented at one time in order to be considered for federal funding. Because of the high cost to build and operate a light rail system the cost per passenger can be high.
It is possible to deliver more service to more people using a simpler and less expensive technology (Rapid Rail Transit) that can share space on the existing rail corridor. This concept would use Diesel Multiple Units (frequently called DMUs) and is being explored further.
Utilizing DMUs would require additional tracks within the existing rail right of ways so we can run high frequency service using diesel powered vehicles while still leaving room for freight, passenger service, and future rail traffic needs.
Another benefit of this technology is that while light rail’s high infrastructure cost means that it can only be used for very frequent service, the proposed DMUs can be used at any frequency, a hybrid blend between light rail and commuter rail.
How do the transit plan options serve lower income communities?
It is very important that low income communities have access to public transportation. We also know that lower income positively correlates to transit ridership, which is a goal for our transit strategy. This has made income and equality issues paramount throughout the planning process.
We welcome your thoughts and feedback on how each of the transit plan options would serve our key customers and improve service to communities that rely on transit.