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.

 

Rider Profile: Tom

When we think of transit, we think of different things. Some people think buses. Others think of subway systems. No matter the image that comes to mind, we think of people moving. This week’s profile is from a rider that moves through Raleigh each day to get between two of our moderate sized communities. Like many of our profile participants, Tom takes time on the bus to relax, but sees ways our system can be improved.

 

Name: Tom Franklin

Town you live in: Garner

 

How often do you ride transit?    Monday – Friday

Where do you ride to/from?     Garner to Chapel Hill (and back)

Why do you choose transit?  UNC offered a free Go Pass to people interested in taking the bus instead of driving

– What do you like best? The ability to take a nap before and after work; not having to deal with stop and go beltway traffic.  The professionalism and friendliness of the TTA drivers and staff

– Any downfalls?  The lack of communication between the different bus/transit companies servicing the Triangle area (CAT and TTA).  The lack of (promised) wifi on buses. The lack of convenient daytime (work hours) service from Chapel Hill to Raleigh/Garner.

If transit wasn’t available what would you do? Would others be impacted? I would need to buy a second car and start driving to work again. This would financially impact both myself and my wife.
If rapid transit were available (rail or bus) how would it change the way you move through the community?  I would definitely take rapid transit to and from Chapel Hill if it was available.

Have you read the Expanded Transit Choices Report? No.
Anything else you would like to add?  I urge TTA and CAT to revisit the Garner 102 route and transfer the day-to-day operation of the 102 route back to TTA.

 

Connections between transit systems is important, as is timing. Feedback like this will help the Wake Transit Partners to develop a recommended transit plan for the region. Please share your thoughts by completing a survey. All of the feedback will be reviewed and considered as the plan is developed.

 

Would you like to share your transit story? Contact Sarah Williamson-Baker at sarah.williamson@wakegov.com

Friday Questions: Land Use and Vehicle Use

This Friday we have just two questions. Both have come up frequently as we’ve been out and about in the community.

 

1. How do the alternatives mesh with land use?
The two ridership alternatives (both Bus Rapid Transit and Rail Rapid Transit) serve the densest parts of the County with higher frequency service, where it is assumed that ridership would be highest. The two coverage scenarios serve a wider area of the County with lower frequency service, where it is assumed that while ridership may be lower, more citizens throughout the County would have access to transit.

All four alternatives provide service on the corridor between Research Triangle Park and downtown Raleigh, where planning for transit-oriented development (generally higher density residential and mixed use development) has occurred. All scenarios also provide some level of service between many of the outlying towns in the County, where a lot of lower-density housing is located, and Raleigh and/or Cary.

 

2. How do the various options impact private vehicle use? Bus lanes v. general use lanes?
At this time, it is hard to say for certain how the various options could impact private vehicle use. The rail transit lines in the Rail Rapid Transit (RRT) scenarios should not have much of an impact on private vehicle use, since the transit lines would be within the existing railroad corridors; however there may be some impact at existing at-grade crossings due to the higher frequency of trains in the corridor.

The proposed bus corridors in all four scenarios may include some conversion of existing general use lanes to bus lanes, particularly along the Bus Rapid Transit corridors in the two BRT scenarios, but that would be determined once the plan is adopted. If the final adopted scenario includes a BRT corridor, part of the planning and permitting for any BRT corridor would include an evaluation of the impact of converting any existing general use lanes to bus lanes, and that impact could be required to be mitigated.

 

If you have a question, comment on this blog post or drop us an email (waketransit@wakegov.com) or stop by one of our events. There are MANY scheduled. To find one that works for you, head over to the www.waketransit.com/meetings.

Friday Questions: Working in RTP

This week our Friday questions are all related to Research Triangle Park (RTP). We’ve held a few events out that way recently, and wanted to use today’s post to share some of the most frequent questions from those who work or frequently make the trip to RTP.

 

1. In the four scenarios that are currently being discussed, two show rail going to RTP. If this is the case, which corporate headquarters will have stops?

In the rail scenarios, Rail Rapid Transit is shown extending as far as NC 54 and Miami Boulevard (Durham County) in Research Triangle Park. This is an undeveloped property that is being reserved by RTP for transit-oriented development. No corporate headquarters are located there today, however, the property is in close proximity to several major employers. The proposed rail terminus is also within a mile of the Park Center, a major mixed use district soon to be constructed in RTP. The transit-oriented development areas would become the centers of RTP based transit services since employees and employers would need access to these locations for multiple reasons (meeting space, dining, etc.).

 

2. How do you expect RTP workers to get from a transit stop to work? Have you talked with any large employers about offering a shuttle?

Future services have not been planned in detail. RTP companies are involved and will stay engaged with the transit planning process, hearing updates progress and trade-offs and offering feedback through various channels. By and large, employers recognize the value of a robust transportation infrastructure that includes transit and they understand the specific challenges of transit in RTP. RTP employers have discussed the potential of operating shuttles and/or working together to fund shuttle service that would connect to the major transit corridors. The approach used today involves a series of shuttles operated by GoTriangle and several large employers. These connect various campuses to our regional bus station. Many RTP companies also have travel demand management programs in place which encourage employees to use alternative commuting modes (transit, carpooling, biking, etc). Enhanced transit service will benefit these programs.

 

3. How will this project work with major RTP corporations such as Cisco, IBM, etc. in planning efforts…. Especially in the way to attract more talents to the RTP area?

RTP companies have remained engaged with this process since the beginning, hearing updates on the Transit Choices Report and transit plan options, and offering feedback through various channels. By and large, employers recognize the value of a robust transportation infrastructure that includes rapid transit. This supports them in recruiting and retaining the best talent. Many RTP companies have travel demand management programs in place which encourage employees to use alternative commuting modes (transit, carpooling, biking, etc). Enhanced transit service will benefit these programs, making our companies more attractive places to work.

 

Do you have a question about the Wake County Transit Strategy? If so, drop us a line, give us a call or Tweet us. All of our contact information is below.

waketransit@wakegov.com

919-856-5477

@waketransit

 

More Friday Questions

Last Friday we responded to a few of the most frequently asked questions from the regional Choose Our Transit events. This week we have a few more questions (and answers). If you have a question, please send it our way!

 

Will all the buses be the non-polluting hybrid?
We have not determined what types of buses will be used. The decision about what type of buses to purchase will be based on purchase cost, maintenance cost and the service being run as we move into the next phase of the project. It is worth noting that all new buses must meet stringent pollution requirements. Hybrid vehicles are currently more expensive the traditional diesel vehicles and current hybrid vehicles (because of the heavy weight of a transit vehicle) only provide significant pollution benefits on low speed, frequent stop routes.

Will bus stops be improved with roofs and better seats?, Can you ensure there is at minimum a bench at every bus stop before you go high tech?, For all scenarios, will stops have shelters? Very important to make riders comfortable.
Bus stops for the Bus Rapid Transit service will be platforms with shelters and have pre-board payment and fare collection equipment. Bus stop shelter, benches, trash receptacles, bike racks, etc. for local bus service improvements will be determined by each transit system, so they may vary throughout our community.

Typically, stops that have a higher per day usage are at a higher priority for determining if shelters or benches are required. With the expected increase in the number of passenger trips as more frequent and improved bus service becomes available, it is highly likely that a large number of stops will have improved passenger amenities.

 

Will wheelchairs be able to roll onto rail, BRT, bus? What about walkers?
All transit service will comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) laws. It is expected that all BRT stations will have level boarding for ease with those passengers in wheelchairs, mobility devices, and walkers.

So this would replace all existing service in Cary? No service to SAS or Weston Parkway? Will CTran Center remain in the four scenarios?
In all of the scenarios, SAS, Weston Parkway, and Regency Park are all included in Cary’s bus service scenarios. The Depot or an area close to the Depot will remain the primary hub for C-Tran.

Friday Questions

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.

 

 

Advisory Committee Meeting #3

Transit Advisory Committee MeetingThe Transit Advisory Committee (TAC) met for the third time on April 8, 2015, to begin preparing for the next phase of the transit investment strategy. During the meeting, the committee was updated on the results of the Transit Choices Report survey, which received approximately 3,900 responses from the public.

Transit consultants Jarrett Walker & Associates and Kimley Horn presented several options for transit solutions in a matrix format, each with a price tag for infrastructure and the resulting available funding for operating ancillary transit service. One axis of the matrix was a ridership versus coverage spectrum; the other axis of the matrix was a high infrastructure to high service spectrum.

Transit technology types were reviewed and the concept ofJarrett Walker at Transit Advisory Committee Meeting Rapid Rail Transit (RRT) was introduced. This option had not been discussed previously, but was suggested as a possible best fit rail service because it costs less than light rail transit and can provide a variety of frequency options. RRT would be more expensive than a bus-only option, but would offer the benefit of a reliable and frequent rail service through Raleigh, Cary and Morrisville, out to RTP. After discussion, the Advisory Committee voted to remove the light rail option from consideration due to its high cost and remove stand-alone commuter rail because it would not provide a good return on investment. The committee also voted to consider bus-only scenarios with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) elements in both a ridership scenario and a coverage scenario. Bus Rapid Transit refers to a number of possible infrastructure projects that would make DSC_0691bus vehicles run faster and more reliably. A key advantage of Bus Rapid Transit investments is that they can be scaled directly to demand and can be implemented incrementally.

 

The work completed at this event, along with public input gathered over the last several months and technical input from local planners, will be used to develop specific transit scenarios that will make up the Expanded Transit Choices Report.

 

Thank You 4 Your Feedback

Huge thanks to all of you who completed the transit survey on WakeTransit.com. The survey closed on Sunday, March 22, 2015, and any responses we receive after that date will reviewed, but will not be passed on to the consultant team for the initial work in developing more specific scenarios.

We have heard from so many of your fellow residents—2,928 survey respondents—and are thrilled you had a chance to share your thoughts. As a reminder, the Transit Choices Report is still available on the WakeTransit.com website along with a video presentation summarizing the report.

You may be wondering exactly what we’re going to do with all this great feedback from you and your neighbors. Any input that was provided before March 22, 2015, will be considered as we develop specific transit scenarios that will make up the Expanded Choices Report.

The report will be released in early May, and to launch this next phase of the transit strategy we will be holding a kickoff event. The date will be announced soon and we hope that you will join us to hear about how your feedback directly influenced the four transit scenarios that we are considering, and to learn specific details about what Wake County’s transit future holds.

Additional kickoff sessions will be held around the County as well, and we’d love to see you at one of these events!

Survey Extension!

To all who have participated in our Transit Choices Survey, Thank you! Because of your overwhelming response and enthusiasm we’ve received, we have extended the deadline until Sunday, March 22, 2015.

We have been having a great time talking with you all about transit and can’t wait to hear more of your thoughts. Before we move on to the next step in the planning process, we want to make sure all of you get a chance to tell us what kind of transit service we should offer; so we’ve also scheduled additional presentations at locations all over Wake County.

All presentations are located on our calendar: waketransit.com/calendar, so keep an eye on that page and this blog for more updates.

We know you’re all eagerly awaiting the release of the expanded choices report and Wake County transit scenarios. We expect those to be coming out in the early part of the summer. The information and feedback you are giving us right now are important in the development of the expanded report and scenarios so keep the feedback coming!

We can’t thank you enough for your enthusiasm and constant interest in transit. We look forward to seeing you at our presentations, talking with you on Twitter and hearing your comments. Remember – #waketransit