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2035 Triangle Regional Transit Vision Plan


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I agree I-540 will not provide traffic relief on I-40 directly simply because any traffic reduction will be replaced by commuters that avoid I-40 today. I-540 will provide something very valuable to S

Charlotte's LR uses NCRR ROW from 32nd St to Pumpernickel Rd (~2.5 miles). South of 32nd St through the city center to Woodlawn Rd (6 miles), the LR reuses an old freight line that Norfolk Southern ow

Thanks for the post. I love having this kind of discussion on here. Some of the points you raise are excellent, while others are red herrings, IMO.    Regarding the finances of thi

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I'm thinking it will be sometimes after 2010. I believe that in light of the terrible economy we have been in with massive unemployment (despite the fact that the Triangle fared pretty well) and lack of consumer confidence, trying to pass such a tax, on top of the state "temporary" increase, a transit tax is in quite a weak position. People (especially in an area that is car-oriented) will likely shoot it down if given a vote on it, especially so when they are hurting for money themselves. I'm not putting my money on this passing if it goes to the ballot box in 2010.

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Can someone please refresh my memory, will the new possible rail system in the Triangle have a combo of Light Rail and DMU or just Light Rail? I was just looking at the 2030 plan and it suggest both? Maybe they wanted to leave open the possibilities? :huh:

Original STAC proposal from 2008 was a combination of DMU/LRT, but as the proposal wended its way through both MPOs the local preferred alternative is currently all LRT

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Original STAC proposal from 2008 was a combination of DMU/LRT, but as the proposal wended its way through both MPOs the local preferred alternative is currently all LRT

So if I understand correctly, both MPO's prefer all LRT but the City of Raleigh kept the option open for both DMU/LRT in it 2030 plan? Interesting... ;)

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And it looks like Triangle Transit is moving forward again with the Light Rail..

Transit Debate continues

The last attempt at transit cost $140 Million, per the article.. that is a very nice chunk of change to have just thrown away..

The light rail system would be 56 miles long, costing $2 Billion total.. with part coming from the 1/2 cent tax..

Light rail will be on a seperate line and will be all light rail, no DMUs....

TTA_Regional_Rail-220x165.jpg

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Seriously, folks. It's taken me about 30 minutes to stop laughing long enough to type this.

OK. So let me get this straight. The original TTA plan was shot down by the Feds because the TTA could not produce enough local funding for a $140m system and wanted a 60% handout without any substantive proof of ability or progress on said project. So now the TTA wants to gouge out a 1/2 percent sales tax for funding a system, then proceeds to upspend the system to $2B??? (Ostensibly "because Charlotte did it")And to revert to LRT, a system that CAN NOT BE BUILT NEAR AN EXISTING FREIGHT CORRIDOR? Well, since you've blown the only positive that you had going in the first place in the Triangle -- the pre-existing, state-owned rail corridor running between three of your four "urban centers" with already existing passenger rail service -- why stop at $2 billion? Why not 4, or 5, or 10? Because you're going to need it given the virgin rights-of-way that you're going to need to install light rail. Before any utilities are relocated, before any super- or subgrading is done to separate the corridor from the street level, and long before you can even think of laying ties, rails, and catenary, all so you can run light rail.

Ya know, if all you want to do is change the propulsion systems from diesel to electric, that's fine. They've got an EMU for that. Bigger, more comfortable cars, that actually run on heavy rail tracks. But hey! If you absolutely need to carry on a pathetic sibling tirade for getting your own light rail, just because Charlotte has one, then by all means have at it.

I will say this once more, and I swear to God, I will never open this subject again. If for no other reason than it's dangerous to my health. Light rail is an inappropriate conveyance for a regional system. If you want to run up and down the old Seaboard with it to North Raleigh, that's fine. No problem there. But for a 45-minute trek to Durham via the universities, Cary, the airport, RTP. and all these other places you want served, this is an uneconomical and verrrry uncomfortable choice. My trip to downtown Denver takes about thirty minutes by LRT. That's about all I can stand of the bench seating and the overcrowded aisles. Any longer than that, and I wouldn't ride the thing. And if you build your own light rail to DTD from DTR, I won't ride that one. Ever.

It really isn't all this hard to do transit, folks. Getting past the mind-numbing politics is by far the hardest thing. But the Triangle (and I mostly blame Raleigh for it) can't seem to get out of its own way. When I go to Santa Fe, and ride the RailRunner some 70 miles to Albuquerque (and over a mountain range at that), I just have to scratch my head and wonder why the place listed on my birth certificate can't get a single train set rolling on an existing, and flat, rail. But perhaps the answer lies in an anecdote that I will share with you now. (If you're a Raleigh booster, and have that characteristic lack of a sense of humor, and a hot temper to boot, you need not read on.)

My grandfather was a Virginian by birth, but as he loved his golf, he settled in the environs of the Raleigh Country Club to whet his appetite for a game that I can barely stand to watch. But I used to ride with him on the cart as he played with groups of men, some of which he obviously didn't have a lot of fun with. After hearing a disparaging remark made about an unlucky Charlottean chap that happened to be stuck in the capital city for a week or so by some disgruntled locals, I asked my grandfather about why these dudes seemed to enjoy dissing their guest so much. My grandfather, astute as ever in these matters, deferred the explanation to a later time. And ever conscious of the social discrepancies, he let rip once we were in the relative isolation of the practice green. "The guy from Raleigh", he explained, "will spend four hours arguing and screaming about how you can't hit a hole-in-one on a par three hole. The guy from Charlotte will proceed to hit 240 balls in the same time, and hole it four times." When I related this story to my other grandfather (who was a Raleigh native), he just guffawed, and said, "Yep! Yep, yep, yep."

My two grandfathers rather liked each other, and I rather enjoyed their company as well.

:alc:

Cheers to them both.

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Light rail can be within the freight corridor now. Actually, it doesn't have to be any further away from the freight corridor than the original DMU line. LRVs, though perhaps not as wide as DMUs, can be fitted with a variety of seating configurations. Vehicles that would be considered "LRVs" in the US are used in regular commuter service in Europe all the time. The STAC analyzed a bunch of corridors that are in the 10-15 mile range, and determined the ones with the most merit for fixed guideway local transit are (in no particular order)

(1) Raleigh to West Cary

(2) Raleigh to North Raleigh

(3) Durham to RTP

(4) Durham to Chapel Hill

(5) Raleigh to Apex

There was a couple mile gap between the end of the Raleigh-West Cary line and the Durham-RTP line so they figured it was worth it to connect the two dots.

Basically, you are arguing that Light rail transit makes sense towards North Raleigh, but not west towards Cary simply because Durham happens to be to the west. So what you're saying is, West Raleigh and Cary have the bad fortune of being in the same direction as Durham, so therefore they should only get commuter rail and the 30ish minute peak frequencies that come with it, in spite of the fact that some of the best opportunities for infill development that LRT supports and encourages better than anything else actually lie to the west. I don't buy it.

We can't really just think of the LRT as a line that connects Raleigh to Durham. That's part of the problem with this corridor, it sort of defies classification. There are few corridors in the US that are like this Think of it as two corridors: Basically, Raleigh to RTP and Durham to RTP, that just happen to be connected.

Nevertheless. We might well get a commuter rail line before the TTA light rail line, though if it happens it probably won't be funded by tax assessment districts, etc as you have suggested.

A big part of NC's HSR stimulus request is for improvements to the NCRR. This includes full double tracking, universal crossovers, signal upgrades, and more. This is way more capacity than is needed by HSR. At that point all that would be needed for commuter rail would be (essentially) platforms, stations, and rolling stock. Stations would be roughly every five miles from Greensboro to Goldsboro.

NCRR is using its own money to conduct some studies to flesh out this concept.

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O...I get what you're saying. I do. And it's not a question of whether the "West Line" merits light rail. That's a subject for a very silly argument. It's about the appropriateness of the transit form for a corridor that would run 35 some odd miles, Raleigh to Durham, whether or not the market segment was 65% or 15% of that corridor between those two points, as well as the inherent safety of it. LRT is not appropriate for that length of travel. And we could argue ad nauseum about whether LRT can be placed alongside a freight corridor or not (although the FRA told Lynx in Orlando that it cannot, and that's good enough for me). I think the more fruitful argument would be whether it should be placed there. To wit:

UP Littleton Derailment~12/07

BNSF Littleton Derailment~01/09

These are two different wrecks folks, occuring within a year and a half of each other, and with RTD fortunate in the extreme that they did not involve fatalities, and that they did occur on the off-hours, where one could easily imagine the carnage had they during AM or PM rush.

I go back to an old point that I made in the old blog. Would you rather ride a CAT bus with hard bench seating for 45 minutes to an hour for a trek to Durham, or would you rather ride a "motorcoach" with cushioned airline seating (and probably a restroom)? That is the exact analogy for LRT (city bus) versus commuter rail (the motorcoach). It is wholly a question of passenger comfort. It has absolutely nothing to do with the technology. EMU, LRT? Who cares?

You may in fact be correct in that perhaps half to even three-quarters of the pax boarding in DTR will only go to Cary or RTP. So, with LRT, you are basically telling the other quarter going to Durham County to go screw themselves. If commuters swig their gallon of coffee and run into trouble halfway, they will (and do) piss the seat. They have no choice. Long-term, that quarter won't ride. Plus, you have basically limited the viability of the system with LRT, making it impossible to extend service to say, Burlington or Goldsboro. If MARC ran from DC to Baltimore with LRT, or VRE to Fredricksburg, I would guarantee their failure.

Same basic range, O.

Do what you want with North Raleigh. It's only a fifteen to twenty minute route, and much of that will be supergrade as I understand, therefore less subject to delays at gate crossings, etc., and faster. If you mandate LRT from Raleigh to Durham, you are in essence, also mandating a hub operation out of the RTP somewhere, thus mandating transfers which drops the efficacy of the system, and decreases the willing market or demand between Wake and Durham county destinations, for no reason at all other than perceived style. You are also mixing grapes and watermelons out there on the alignment. And if you drop a watermelon on a grape, well...Grab your roll of Brawny and get busy.

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There may be some validity to V's argument about the serviceable length of a light rail segment. It would seem that the region's plan is an illustrative vision at this point, but lacking in detail beyond what has been studied before. Whether or not a super-long light rail line envisioned within a freight rail corridor makes sense will be worked out over time. As I have pointed out on this page before, many a regional transit plan has morphed from concept to reality over time. The list includes Seattle, LA, Denver, and even Charlotte here in NC (among others), and I suspect the Triangle will be no different.

Today the N&O featured a story about the Zebulon-Wendell Express bus, that began service recently. It's good to see the publicity for the benefit of public transit that many of us know. Many times it may not be as strictly convenient in terms of travel time compared to the car, but when the true cost of driving is factored in (car payments, insurance, registration, fuel, subsidized roads parking, emissions, etc) along with the intangible benefits to the passenger noted in the article (restful trip, potential for social interaction, etc), taking transit is often a choice worth making. Beyond that, it's simply positive seeing individuals offered new travel choices they find worthwhile.

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  • 1 month later...

There was a big article in the N&O this weekend about the evolving transit plans.

The main point is that sales tax revenues are down, so a 1/2% sales tax dedicated to transit wouldn't generate as much money as previously thought.

The first effect of this dose of reality is to render the STAC plan unaffordable. Building a 50+ mile light rail all the way from North Raleigh to Durham and on to Chapel Hill is no longer feasible. The article mentions breaking Light Rail into three distinct, locally oriented segments: Triangle Town Center to the Fargrounds or Cary in Wake; Alston Avenue to New Hope Commons in Durham; and the NC54/I-40 area to UNC in Orange. Bus service, presumably both local and express, would be doubled as well.

Instead of a 50+ mile light rail line, cross-regional trips would center on a beefed-up version of the NCRR commuter line, termed "Express Rail". This would involve more than 20 trains per direction per day, and would be some combination of high speed, intercity, and local service. Interestingly, this is heavily linked with state and national plans for the HSR line, since HSR also includes plans to upgrade the NCRR line. Many of those upgrades could also apply to commuter trains as well.

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According to the Herald-Sun, DATA is looking to further regional transit integration. Instead of contracting with a private operator to run the buses within the city, they have said that they are investigating (and in fact would prefer to) contract with Triangle Transit to run them. Raleigh and Cary are watching these proceedings closely and could follow suit in the future.

Clearly, even under this plan, Durham City Council would still retain control over how transit money from Durham taxes is used, but with Triangle Transit as the implementing agency, they might be able to better coordinate the services.

I've also heard that the new trip planner software they implemented will allow some route coordination as well, among other things (including - finally - Google Transit integration in April-ish)

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Having spent some time on CTA buses lately, my knee jerk reaction to all the online tracking of buses and such seems like a waste of money given that the routes and frequency of service suck and most of the people using the bus likely are not paying for internet plans on their phone. CAT needs to lobby council for real transit money and get rid of all the loopy routes and just do straight out and back routes with twice as frequent service. I would not mind walking a few block to a bus stop if I knew it came every 15 minutes at rush hour. Coming every 30 at my front door is not helping me whether I can track it or not, which as I said, most riders cannot.

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Having spent some time on CTA buses lately, my knee jerk reaction to all the online tracking of buses and such seems like a waste of money given that the routes and frequency of service suck and most of the people using the bus likely are not paying for internet plans on their phone. CAT needs to lobby council for real transit money and get rid of all the loopy routes and just do straight out and back routes with twice as frequent service. I would not mind walking a few block to a bus stop if I knew it came every 15 minutes at rush hour. Coming every 30 at my front door is not helping me whether I can track it or not, which as I said, most riders cannot.

At the West CAC meeting in February, David Eatman did a presentation on the CAT system in general, particularly pertaining to West Raleigh. It seems that there is a triangle-wide effort afoot to reorganize and optimize service. They're well aware that the routes that run in straight lines like 1(Capital), 6(Glenwood) and 15(New Bern) are some of the most successful in the system. They want to reorganize some of the loopier routes to follow that paradigm. The new trip planner will help them to coordinate routes better with other agencies like C-Tran, Wolfline, and TTA.

This planning process will hopefully get underway within the next few months.

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Triangle Transit is planning some service changes including direct service from Raleigh to RDU though I have to say I don't really like their initial plan for doing it by making some confusing changes to route 105.

My suggestion for service to the airport would be to collaborate with CAT and completely rework the CAT 6, CAT 70e, and TTA 747 into a more cohesive local/express service.

  1. Extend the CAT 6 to Brier Creek.
  2. Eliminate the 70e as extending the 6 makes it redundant
  3. Use a combination of TTA money and CAT money to implement an express service down Glenwood, stopping only at major stops: Moore Square, Glenwood South, Crabtree Valley Mall, RDU, and the RTC.

Here is a map.

To save time at RDU, westbound buses would stop only at RDU Terminal 2; eastbound buses stop only at Terminal 1. This means people riding the bus might have to walk between the terminals, about 1000 feet (half the length of Terminal 2.)

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  • 1 month later...

The more I think about it, any plan of TTA doing an all-out Duke Medical-North Raleigh line should be replaced by NCRR because I just don't see the former agency getting any federal money, no matter who's in office and how lenient or strict the standards of transit money allocation are. If TTA still wants light rail, then it should focus on its busiest areas. The conversion from DMUs to light rail was purely reactive. NCRR could break up its proposed commuter service into two categories of Local and Regional. Local trains would serve most of the original TTA route (LRT would still cover the Union Station-NE Raleigh portion) while Regionals would be extended--as indicated in NCRR's plans--to stop outside of the Triangle. Perhaps, TTA could run an LRT line from Union Station to Apex.

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I went to National Train Day in DC at Union station today. I was in awe. They had a MARC (Maryland rail service), VRE (Virginia rail service), private cars (including the Chapel Hill <== it was AWESOME), superliners, and the acela.

First of all, let me say I do LOVE the way DC Union station is set up. Shops on the top floor, Shops and ticketing/tracks on the main floor, and dining on the bottom floor. And more importantly, I like how they have multiple platforms which allows for many trains.

I wish Raleigh Union Station was similiar. With at least 3 platforms per area (SEHSR section, Amtrak section, LRT section).

I also LOVED the acela most of all. I would love to see trains like that running the Regional Long Distance Routes (Morehead-Asheville, Charlotte-Greenville, Wilmington-Columbia, Norfolk-Charlotte, ChaRal Express). Then they could use the Piedmont trains for the Local service (with 9 stops that include RTP and Hillsborough).

I would suggest charging: $65 OneWay/$1000 monthly ChaRal Express, $110-225 OneWay/$950-1800 10-ticket Long Distance, $40 One-way/$750 monthly Piedmont fares.

BTW.. ChaRal is Charlotte-Raleigh express (no stops) following the AWCR line.

What do ya think?

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I went to National Train Day in DC at Union station today. I was in awe. They had a MARC (Maryland rail service), VRE (Virginia rail service), private cars (including the Chapel Hill <== it was AWESOME), superliners, and the acela.

First of all, let me say I do LOVE the way DC Union station is set up. Shops on the top floor, Shops and ticketing/tracks on the main floor, and dining on the bottom floor. And more importantly, I like how they have multiple platforms which allows for many trains.

I wish Raleigh Union Station was similiar. With at least 3 platforms per area (SEHSR section, Amtrak section, LRT section).

I also LOVED the acela most of all. I would love to see trains like that running the Regional Long Distance Routes (Morehead-Asheville, Charlotte-Greenville, Wilmington-Columbia, Norfolk-Charlotte, ChaRal Express). Then they could use the Piedmont trains for the Local service (with 9 stops that include RTP and Hillsborough).

I would suggest charging: $65 OneWay/$1000 monthly ChaRal Express, $110-225 OneWay/$950-1800 10-ticket Long Distance, $40 One-way/$750 monthly Piedmont fares.

BTW.. ChaRal is Charlotte-Raleigh express (no stops) following the AWCR line.

What do ya think?

Most of Union Station is nice, except for the dank and primitive food court on the bottom floor, which they are planning on gutting and redoing.

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  • 2 months later...

Don't know if anyone here has been following along with the Regional Transit process in the Triangle, but substantial progress is being made. They're currently doing something called an "transitional analysis" process to determine which corridors will be constructed first (and which ones will be submitted to the FTA first). There are 17 corridors being considered, with the idea that 3 will move on to create Locally preferred alternatives. The full list (along with pretty maps) can be viewed here: http://www.campo-nc.us/TAC_Agenda/2010/Agenda-TAC-2010-06-16-Att-11A-Regional-Rail-Initiative_new.pdf

Wake:

  1. Wake Forest to UNC Hospitals
  2. Wake Forest to Triangle Metro Center (RTP)
  3. Wake Forest to Veredia (South of Apex)
  4. Wake Forest to Downtown Cary
  5. Wake Forest to State Fairgrounds
  6. Wake Forest to Downtown Raleigh
  7. NERC to Triangle Metro Center (RTP)
  8. NERC to NW Cary
  9. NERC to Downtown Cary
  10. NERC to State Fairgrounds
  11. NERC to Downtown Raleigh

Durham/Orange:

  1. UNC Hospitals to Wake Forest
  2. Duke Medical to Downtown Raleigh
  3. UNC Hospitals to Triangle Metro Center (RTP)
  4. UNC Hospitals to Alston Avenue
  5. UNC Hospitals to Gateway (15/501-Interstate 40)
  6. Gateway to Alston Avenue

Regional (commuter rail)

- West Durham to Johnston County Line (Clayton)

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  • 3 months later...

Sorry if this is not the correct thread for this link.

Train Ridership

I hope that this distinction provides incentive for the state and communities to the east and west of the current railway to plan for extensions. It'd be a great thing to be able to travel from one end of the state to the other by train reliably.

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  • 3 weeks later...

The results of the county commissioners' elections may have an impact on the likelyhoood that a transit tax will appear on the ballot for a referendum in 2011. Seems that Republicans swept all four seats up for election. If I were to guess, people voting straight Republican tickets played a role, as did the school board issues.

Of the four elected Republican commissioners, Joe Bryan seems to be the most supportive of a transit tax, which makes sense as he is the former mayor of Knightdale who proposed and funded the Eastrans commuter rail study several years ago. He said "Once there is a vetted plan in which the public has actively participated, the 12 municipalities have signed an inter-local agreement with the County and our economy has improved--YES."

Gurley seems somewhat more reluctant, saying he'll support the referendum "when and if we are presented with a viable, feasible and sustainable plan including all transit options."

Coble went one step further, saying the same as Gurley, but adding a specific reservation that "I don’t think the transportation people are going to be ready. The legislation says that they have to present a plan that is financially responsible and feasible. I don’t think they can present that kind of a plan to us by that time."

I haven't been able to find anything online that Matthews said about the transit tax referendum but given that he bills himself as aligned with the "TEA party" one can probably expect him to fall somewhere near Coble.

Not sure exactly how things lie but it seems to me that Bryan is the most likely swing vote. He still throws in the condition "Once...our economy has improved." We can't be sure what his criteria for an improved economy are, but if he waits until we're building starter home subdivisions full-tilt in Fuquay again it'll be too late. This pause in development is the perfect time to start building a transit system, in order to re-focus the next wave of development on underutilized land near the transit corridors.

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