ChiefJoJo

2035 Triangle Regional Transit Vision Plan

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Since any portion of the system west of Duke/9th Street was going to be light rail, the whole system might as well be. The benefits of one system, maintenance yard, etc. would probably outweigh the benefits of the hybrid LRT/DMU system. And it makes it somewhat flexible to add lines like Six Forks westward from Atlantic, and toward the RBC Center/Crabtree from the Fairgrounds.

The system could be used to showcase green technologies along the line as well -- solar collectors on top of stations and shelters that could generate enough electricity to light them (with LEDs from Cree) at night and feed excess capacity into the light rail itself (via Progress Energy's NC Green Power)... Adding touches like that could make it an easier sell to the new administration eager for new public works projects (instead of corporate handouts) to help stimulate our state and national economies.

I wonder if any other LRT stations across the country/world have solar collectors? I like the idea...Maybe even our downtown multi-model station could include a piece of modern art that combines the collectors? :)

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So Obama's economic stimulus proposal includes $10 billion for mass transit. Any chance we would be in line to get any of that? Come on Barack, show us the love for turning NC blue last November.

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I am dealing with economic stimulus "readiness to proceed" regarding wastewater projects. In order to create jobs the push is for "shovel ready" projects. This translates into projects having the environmental review components completed. I think TTA had their FNSI complete but I do not know if it has expired or if any recent change in project scope would need a new review and public comment period. If our FNSI were still valid for both reasons (time and content) then I would think we would certainly be among the very first projects to get the money to start moving.

edit to below: my bad, I knew it was an EIS and not a FNSI. many months and a hundred thousand dollar difference in those documents.

Edited by Jones133

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So Obama's economic stimulus proposal includes $10 billion for mass transit. Any chance we would be in line to get any of that? Come on Barack, show us the love for turning NC blue last November.

I saw the list, and though it's not final, it's mostly things like bus purchases, a bus maintenance facility, bus station improvements here in the Triangle. There is a project listed to double-track the NCRR between Greensboro and Goldsboro, but that is for heavy freight and perhaps one day commuter rail.

The problem is these are supposed to be "shovel-ready" projects, which means they have to have all the designs, rights-of-way, paperwork, and permits completed within a few months to qualify for federal stimulus funds (that is the likely scenario, at least), so there won't be any shovels turned on a rail transit project in the Triangle anytime soon. The EIS on the TTA rail project needs to be revised and updated, and as it seems the region is moving away from both DMU transit and from a regional Durham-Raleigh line (initially). The line that is designed is does not currently match current the regional preference, which is all light rail on the STAC "N" corridor to be built in phases on either end of the Triangle.

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Bob Geary's latest on the push for transit in the Triangle. Not much new there, unless you haven't been paying attention the last several months. This stimulus bill isn't going to help rail get going immediately, as it will take up to two years to re-analyze and design the rail infrastructure to include lighter bridges and overhead cantenary for electrification. Geary notes the change from DMUs to LRT, as well as the loosening of FRA rules on allowing light rail in freight rail corridors. The FRA typically governs INTERcity rail corridors, not INTRAcity rail. So, if Raleigh pursues it's own project initially, perhaps LRT from Spring Forest Rd to downtown or NCSU, the FTA would likely govern the process. In any case, the new plan for rail is all LRT, and I view that as perhaps a net positive in the grand scheme of things.

One piece of fresh news is the proposed 10-year Wake Transit Action Plan. Read more here (item #10) & see the presentation here. Contingent upon passage of a 1/2 cent sales tax and increased vehicle registration fee & based on conservative funding estimates (limited state & local support), the action plan would complete LRT from Spring Forest to NW Cary by 2019. If federal or state support were more substantial than projected, the line could be built quicker and/or extended further.

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Wondering why we would start with such,(IMHO), a long stretch of rail in the firt part of the system? 17 miles to be first? Sounds great and I do realize that the idea is to be able to start with enough riders as possible and I love having the first leg so long. Just wondering... :huh:

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The 17-mile line as proposed in the presentation linked by ChiefJoJo is what can be built by 2019 with zero federal contribution.

Something I notice is that they are planning even fewer stations than the original TTA plan called for. 9 stations for 17 miles is quite sparse for an LRT line. Charlotte, for example, has 15 stations in 9 miles, (with a 16th to perhaps be built by a developer at Iverson.) Notably in Raleigh, the station at New Hope Church Road (Wal-Mart anyone?) is absent. I would think that with electric light rail they might add a few more stations, rather than remove some. Maybe it's a function of funding, or perhaps it has to do with the line's length and cross-regional nature.

Personally, I'd say don't worry about how long the trip will be for someone going from N Raleigh to Chapel Hill; I'd add 4, maybe 5 additional stations (listed below) in the 17 mile Wake County starter segment alone. If there are people who need to go from N Raleigh to Chapel Hill, then let them ride an express bus.

Cary

W Raleigh

Fairgrounds

Gorman Street

NCSU

Morgan/Hillsborough

Multimodal station

Gov't Center

Whitaker Mill

Highwoods

New Hope Church

(maybe)Millbrook

Spring Forest

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^

I would imagine these would only be to start. They can always add more stops at a later date. Also, we are headed into a time where we have a very mass transit-friendly administration in the White House, so that could drastically broaden and/or speed up plans as well

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Cary

W Raleigh

Fairgrounds

Gorman Street

NCSU

Morgan/Hillsborough

Multimodal station

Gov't Center

Whitaker Mill

Highwoods

New Hope Church

(maybe)Millbrook

Spring Forest

These are great additional stops. Millbrook, like Spring Forest, has hundreds of apartments nearby.

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Through the draft comp plan, the City of Raleigh identified (as many of have previously) an additional rail stop at Whitaker Mill Rd, to take advantage of the large number of underused warehouses in that area. Beyond that, I wouldn't worry about the stations so much at this point, as one or two could be added later on during the EIS revision.

During that process, I would like to see the results of a study that could analyze the potential costs/benefits of running LRT off the rail corridor & into downtown (concept posted a couple of pages back). Using LRT instead of DMU as the primary technology for the rail system opens up a whole new set of possibilities for rapid transit connections within Raleigh. As much as it might potentially delay the process of getting rail transit off the ground here, the cost of making a short-sighted decision is higher. You could add another couple of stations within the DTR core and likely increase ridership as well (though hurting travel time by running slower speeds on the streets). I don't know if it would be worthwhile to build or not, but I'd certainly like to see it fully evaluated.

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My opinion is that the 2-mile on-street diversion would add way too much time to the trip. I know I just said to add stops and don't worry about the trip time, but the effect of adding a few more stops, versus the effect of adding a few more stops AND having to follow a 25mph speed limit on-street AND traveling in mixed traffic AND stopping at dozens of stoplights would, on the whole, result in a trip through town that's far too slow.

Just brainstorming here, but how about:

1. Move all freight traffic to the CSX line.

2. Put the Light Rail on the Norfolk Southern line (the one between Glenwood and West, on the west side of Capital.)

3. Put a light rail station at Fairview.

4. Connect Fairview and Halifax streets

5. Implement a circulator over that connection linking from Five Points, to the Fairview station, Downtown, and eventually back to the Multimodal Station. That would meanway of Fairview, Halifax, Wilmington, and Salisbury and then back up to the multimodal station via the NCRR. Ideally the circulator would be a streetcar line but some sort of bus or BRT could work, too.

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My reasoning is three-pronged:

(1) I have often wondered whether the distance (~5 blks) from the proposed DTR stop to the spine of Fayettevile St (CBD core) will be a hindrance to attracting riders within downtown. Personally, I wouldn't think twice about walking that distance, but it's outside the 1/4 mile range for ideal transit walk-up trip capture, so ideally if you could more directly serve a fairly sizable market that is sitting right there waiting to be captured, why not look at it?

(2) The entire concept of locating the line on the rail corridor is due to the limitation of DMU, which is now not the proposed technology. Take away DMU and you eliminate the primary reason for staying only on the rail corridor. Based on that alone, there's no good reason to not re-examine the precise location for where LRT should go. And, as much as we want things to happen quickly, this is a 50+ year, $multi-billion investment we are making, so it needs to be the right one.

(3) The corollary to the above is, if you can show thru a detailed engineering study that system travel time isn't adversely affected (losing system riders due only to travel time) and that ridership gained is significant enough to recover the extra capital cost, why not do it?

This depends on what type of trip patterns are forecasted to take place, given all sorts of assumptions about land use... for example, do riders who board at Spring Forest (or even Durant Rd) want to primarily travel downtown? to NCSU? Cary? RTP? Chapel Hill? (God help them) If they are going to Cary, what is their tolerance to a few minute delay thru DTR?

Some food for thought.

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It is an interesting question, and I certainly agree that it will be worth studying. It's also probably worth investigation whether a shorter downtown route might not be a good compromise, instead of CAMPO's 2 mile plan that goes clear from the MM station, to Wilmington/Salisbury, all the way up to Pilot Mill.

Obviously we could have the best of both worlds with a downtown subway, but we just don't / won't have the money for that.

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WRAL has a story about the transit plan. This is following the CAMPO meeting orulz referenced above, where transit was discussed. Though the story focused on the opposition, it seems a light rail based regional plan around the STAC vision has the backing of the vast majority of the region's mayors. All we need now is the state authority and a referendum, and we'll be ready to move ahead, likely with good state and federal partners.

PS - I doubt the accuracy of the $700-800M for the 17 miles of light rail from Cary to Spring Forest Rd. I don't think we have a good handle on that yet.

Hold on. Wait a second here. Ironically at the 35 second mark of this video they said Raleigh only has 35 buses. I know many folks want trains now, but I like the fact that buses are the STAC's first priority. To my knowledge, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill combined has less than 15 million annual transit riders. The feds will not be impressed with these numbers at all. The bus ridership needs to improve first so that projected rail ridership will be high. By 2020, we should have a good idea of how well rail would do in the Triangle once the bus system has improved. Edited by urban980

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Hold on. Wait a second here. Ironically at the 35 second mark of this video they said Raleigh only has 35 buses. I know many folks want trains now, but I like the fact that buses are the STAC's first priority. To my knowledge, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill combined has less than 15 million annual transit riders. The feds will not be impressed with these numbers at all. The bus ridership needs to improve first so that projected rail ridership will be high. By 2020, we should have a good idea of how well rail would do in the Triangle once the bus system has improved.

Implicit in the plan are extensive improvements to local and regional bus service, and improved bus facilities (benches, shelters, outlying stations, etc). There's no need to wait until 2020 to begin to build rail. There are advantages to be had via rail (such as shaping land use) that buses cannot provide, and thus we should move quickly to implement that service concurrently with bus service improvements.

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Implicit in the plan are extensive improvements to local and regional bus service, and improved bus facilities (benches, shelters, outlying stations, etc). There's no need to wait until 2020 to begin to build rail. There are advantages to be had via rail (such as shaping land use) that buses cannot provide, and thus we should move quickly to implement that service concurrently with bus service improvements.
How can you justify building trains quickly if the current bus ridership is not up to snuff? I am with you in wanting trains faster, but let's be realistic here. I took the time to look up Raleigh's bus ridership, and the numbers are quite sad to be honest (even with the current growth in ridership, the numbers are still quite sad). The feds are not going to give money to Raleigh for trains when there are too many other cities competing for the same money and have already beefed up their buses. Raleigh is atleast 10 years away from being rail worthy in terms of current transit usage.

Before I am roasted here and taken the wrong way, let me explain my position. Most cities with new rail startups already had an established high bus ridership. Those bus riders are more than half of the rail systems' riders. Since bus riders are a fairly accurate way to predict possible train riders, it is fair to assume that Raleigh won't have very many train riders for now. Again, I have come to this conclusion after looking at Raleigh's bus ridership (which is not very good). STAC knows that ridership is an issue and has wisely chosen to beef up the buses first then go for rail after about 10 years or so. They may be criticized by some for doing things this way but they know that a push for rail now would fail again. Ridership (or lack thereof) would be the reason for such failure yet again.

Edited by urban980

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Gorman would be a good/no brainer stop today. Or maybe that road that crosses the rails near Playmakers which might be closed once the corridor is used for mass transit. This stop would service Merideth College students and NC State students living in apartments on the west end of campus *and* in the buildings that eventually replace ES King village.

A Whitaker Mill stop could act as a bus transfer to send rail riders out to Crabtree and/or park and ride for Five Points residents, similar to Highwoods tying service to North Hills and Six Forks. To say nothing of redeveloping the industrial land that has been underutilized for decades.

New Hope Church would drop riders close to Wal-Mart and a potential tie in to East Raleigh.

As for moving the LRT line closer to the F Street core, it will be intersesting to see how many people utilize the circulator coming on line next month. If that proves to attract ridership, moving from the rail to the circulator which would drop people off in front of the Convention Center and on Glenwood South, and one short block from Fayetville Street, might allow the light rail to stay in the existing rail corridor.

Why should one of the fastest growing regions in the coutry wait ten more years for a rail line because of the sins of the past -- a subpar bus system that has stagnated ridership and the complete ignorance of the city's comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is being updated to incorporate bus and rail mass transit. Ridership on other area bus systems -- Triangle Transit, Wolfline, Duke's buses, and C-Tran -- should be factored in for "Triangle" ridership.

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Why should one of the fastest growing regions in the coutry wait ten more years for a rail line because of the sins of the past -- a subpar bus system that has stagnated ridership and the complete ignorance of the city's comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is being updated to incorporate bus and rail mass transit. Ridership on other area bus systems -- Triangle Transit, Wolfline, Duke's buses, and C-Tran -- should be factored in for "Triangle" ridership.
Good question and a good point. However, all of those modes of mass transit (combined) in the "Triangle" have fewer riders than most midsized cities' single bus system. Does this make sense? It would be the same as asking the feds to fund a train in Atlanta because Cobb county transit has "X" amount of riders. It would be the same as asking the feds to fund a train in Charlotte because Gastonia transit has "X" amount of riders. I realize that the Triangle is a multi city region, but that is the number one problem. The area's layout will cause rail lines to be longer distances, hence more costly. Ridership is how the feds justify cost. The bottomline is the Triangle does not have the ridership to justify the cost.

Here is the solution. Triangle leaders need to push the state to allow counties to levy a full 1 cent transit tax. That is the ticket to getting trains built faster without federal money. That is what Denver did. They simply voted to tax themselves more. That is what the Triangle should do. If the Triangle does not go this route, the trains will be running when my son graduates college (he is in 1st grade now LOL).

Here is an old (but good) transit debate from WRAL. They talked about the layout difficulty of trains in the Triangle. You guys should really watch this video. It gives you quick insight into the minds of the people responsible for getting transit moving. This is a 20 minute plus video, but it is a good one.

http://www.wral.com/news/local/politics/video/2389596/

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First you say the Triangle is not ready for rail (until 2020) and then you say we should back a full one cent tax to build it without federal support. Whether the region should pursue rail and whether the feds will fund it are two distinct questions. My position is yes and likely yes. We could spend pages rehashing the past mistakes on regional transit, but IMO the two biggest problems were no political support (thus no substantial local financial commitment), and anti-transit federal govt policies during the planning and engineering of the previous project.

Political support now appears to be solidly in place and the new administration appears to be much more favorable towards funding transit. The new STAC funding scenarios also assume very little federal or state support, so rail could still be built without that support (though it would take longer).

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This might seem off-the-wall, but I suspect the biggest obstacle standing in the way of this transit plan are the people who self-assuredly say that "If it doesn't go to the airport, it's worthless." The original TTA plan suffered a tremendous amount of bad press due to this issue. If you talked to any joe on the street about the TTA rail line they would say "I just can't understand why it doesn't go to the airport."

Here's my thoughts on the subject. I agree that it would be worthwhile to have a rail transit link to the airport. Some 25,000 passengers per day fly in and out of RDU. If even 5% of these people take the train (a number which I think is quite realistic) that would be worthwhile.

Is airport service as big of a deal as these people make it out to be? Definitely not. Should an airport link be included in the first phase? No.

But think about it: where does transit tend to work the best? Where parking is expensive. Where is parking expensive in the triangle? Outside of downtowns and universities, the airport is the only place in the region where you have to pay to park. So, I say a rail link to the airport does make sense. A plan for a link to the airport, along with a timeline for when it will be built, MUST be included, before anybody comes before the public to ask for a sales tax hike. Or else the whole transit line will be a complete flop in the public opinion department.

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I'd like to know how many people discussing rail transit current use existing transit options on a regular basis. I ride the bus to school and back. The reason I ask is because Raleigh's population is about 1/2 of what Charlotte's is but Charlottes transportation systems carries more than 5 times more passengers than Capital Area Transit. And that's excluding trips on Charlotte's light rail system.

I think the entire topic of rail transit is moot is people aren't even willing to use the options already available. Personally, I feel that there are many people who advocate for rail transit but don't use existing buses because of the stigma that riding the bus carries.

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My opinion is that the 2-mile on-street diversion would add way too much time to the trip. I know I just said to add stops and don't worry about the trip time, but the effect of adding a few more stops, versus the effect of adding a few more stops AND having to follow a 25mph speed limit on-street AND traveling in mixed traffic AND stopping at dozens of stoplights would, on the whole, result in a trip through town that's far too slow.

Just brainstorming here, but how about:

2. Put the Light Rail on the Norfolk Southern line (the one between Glenwood and West, on the west side of Capital.)

Interestingly, there is now thought of moving High Speed Rail to the NS line from where the NS and CSX cross near Fairview down to what would be the downtown HSR passenger station.

VA/NC Line to Raleigh (70 miles)

The initial railroad horizontal and vertical designs are complete in this section. Preliminary highway designs proceeded from north to south, and were essentially complete in mid-2008. However, the study team began looking at an alternate rail entry into downtown Raleigh in mid-2008, using the Norfolk Southern corridor west of Capital Boulevard. Additional rail and roadway designs are required in this section, with completion expected in early 2009.

Last updated December 2008.

Edited by orulz
cleaned up formatting

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I'd like to know how many people discussing rail transit current use existing transit options on a regular basis. I ride the bus to school and back. The reason I ask is because Raleigh's population is about 1/2 of what Charlotte's is but Charlottes transportation systems carries more than 5 times more passengers than Capital Area Transit. And that's excluding trips on Charlotte's light rail system.

I think the entire topic of rail transit is moot is people aren't even willing to use the options already available. Personally, I feel that there are many people who advocate for rail transit but don't use existing buses because of the stigma that riding the bus carries.

I ride Triangle Transit 3 or 4 days a week from my house in southwest Raleigh to my job in RTP. The other days I either drive or telecommute. I would much rather ride a train because it would be faster, have a smoother ride, be impervious to congestion, and not get tied up in traffic on I-40 for 20 extra minutes every time that it rains. I live about 1/2 mile from the Fairgrounds so I will be able to walk there in 8-10 minutes or bike there in 3, but assuming I keep my job, I'll still have to transfer to a shuttle.

A big part of why Charlotte's CATS carries so many more passengers than CAT is that they have much more extensive service. First of all, they have an extensive network of express routes, whereas in the Triangle, most express routes are handled by Triangle Transit. In addition, some intra-city travel within Raleigh is also handled by Triangle Transit. Wolfline also certainly cannibalizes some ridership from CAT.

But the most important reason why CATS ridership is so much greater than CAT's is the quality of service. CATS has a bunch of routes with 10 minute headways or better, but on CAT, out of about 25 routes, only 2 routes have 15 minute peak headways (#1 and #15.) The rest of the routes vary from 30 to 75 minute headways. Prior to 1998, CATS had service more comparable to CAT right now, but with the introduction of the transit tax, they ramped up their service, making it more convenient and attracting more riders.

If CAT did the same, ramping up their service, you can bet that there would be an increase in ridership.

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