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.
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.