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2035 Triangle Regional Transit Vision Plan


ChiefJoJo

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Dems now have absolute control of Wake County Commission. Status quo on Jones Street, however. Outlook for federal funding for mass transit is worse. 

 

We will certainly see transit on the ballot in Wake, and soon. Questions are how much can Wake build and how quickly, given indifference/hostility at state and federal level.

 

I don't know of anyone who believed the Raleigh parks bond was seriously in doubt. 

 

Otherwise I would caution people not to make premature assessments based on the data posted this morning. It will take 5 or 6 weeks for early votes and absentee votes to be consolidated into the precinct-by-precinct totals. 

 

As far as seeing Transit come to a vote? If I remember correctly, the General Assembly said that Wake,(or any other approved county), would have to put the reqeuested 1/2 cent sales taxes on the ballot by mid 2015 or otherwise it would be a no go? I don't think it would or could happen by then, but that is my two cents. (or should I say 1/2 cent-Ha! Ha!)

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One potentially significant data point: voters in Guilford County and Mecklenburg County rejected a small sales tax increase (1/4 cent) to assist public schools. The vote was 57% against in Guilford and 61% in Mecklenburg. Note that Kay Hagan carried Guilford County by 56% (the same as Wake County) and Mecklenburg by 59%. In other words, people voted Democratic in some races but against the sales tax increase.

 

I heard someone say that every local sales tax initiative in NC went down to defeat Tuesday, but I don't know that to be true. Bond referendums were a different story.

 

I'm not predicting failure for a Wake tax on transit, but beware. 

Edited by ctl
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Who else is just waiting for the Republican Legislative Majority to do like they did in Buncombe and Guilford Counties (not to mention the Wake School Board) as a result of the new Democratic majority and make it so Commisioners are no longer elected county wide but by district only....aside from 1 or 2 highly gerrymandered "regional districts"? I don't trust the GOP majority....especially in a non election year....remember what happened in 2013? *shudders*

Edited by NCMike1981
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Aside from whatever motivations a political party might have, I'm surprised that the U.S. Dept. of Justice has allowed this many counties (and cities, for that matter) in North Carolina to have at-large representation. At-large seats were a standard mechanism during the segregation era to ensure that no African-American ever got elected. Many local governments were forced by the federal courts to replace at-large representation with by-district representation. NC seems to have got off light compared to other southern states.

 

Gerrymandering in North Carolina is nothing new. The Democrats did a really nice job of it after the 1990 census and again after the 2000 census. What's different these days is that precinct boundaries are no longer sacrosanct. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Coble, Bryan, and Matthews gone-I guess their shenanigans didn't work out so well for them. 

 

Back in April, I'd have been glad if the head (Coble) of the snake were decapitated, but the fact that voters killed the entire snake is even more astonishing.

 

Aside from whatever motivations a political party might have, I'm surprised that the U.S. Dept. of Justice has allowed this many counties (and cities, for that matter) in North Carolina to have at-large representation. At-large seats were a standard mechanism during the segregation era to ensure that no African-American ever got elected. Many local governments were forced by the federal courts to replace at-large representation with by-district representation. NC seems to have got off light compared to other southern states.

 

Gerrymandering in North Carolina is nothing new. The Democrats did a really nice job of it after the 1990 census and again after the 2000 census. What's different these days is that precinct boundaries are no longer sacrosanct. 

 

I remember that back in '97-98 when the 12th Congressional District had its lines changed frequently, the General Assembly had a rule that no county could be have more than three congressional seats, and this practice was honored throughout the '00s. However, the current maps show Durham County with four congressional seats--1st, 4th, 6th & 13th!

Edited by kdub1
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You can watch a video of the entire meeting.

In it Jarrett Walker starts off by making a conmpelling case for transit investment.

Next, he introduces his concept of "coverage vs. ridership" goals, wherein the people responsible for a transit system, ie the taxpayers funding it, have to make a values-based decision on priorities: how much resources should be allocatred toward absolutely maximizing ridership, which will necessarily focus on the densest, most transit-friendly, most transit-dependent areas, versus how much will be allocated toward providing coverage over a geographically wide area, which necessarily will not have ridership as a primary goal.

One question that he didn't bring up that I wish he had is, of the revenue available for transit, how much should be dedicated towards building infrastructure, and how much should be dedicated towards operations. This in my opinion is the biggest question facing us right now.

If you only have a few minutes to watch, I suggest you start at about the 30 minute mark in the video. He brings up a map of the current Wake County transit network, colorized based on frequency. He defines "quality service" as routes that run at least every 15 minutes during the midday period (as opposed to just during rush hour.) The map shows that we have an extensive high quality network around N.C. State, and high frequency routes on New Bern and Capital, and that basically everything else would qualify as "coverage" service.

Next he brings up a population density map, making the assertion that the high quality service should be where the population density is. The densest parts of the county stretch from basically ITB Raleigh, somewhat surprisingly all the way to western Cary (Possibly the US64/NC55 area?), and along another band that looks to me like the Millbrook/Spring Forest/Lynn Road corridor.

Anyway, I'm very excited to have Mr. Walker working in our community. He brings a refreshing and extremely realistic perspective and I'm looking forward to the results of this study.

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Meanwhile the following came to my attention today. I assume the Wake commissioners know about it and will see what they can learn from it to avoid a repeat here. The populations of Pinellas and Wake are nearly the same, although the topographies are much different and perhaps the demographics too.

 

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/elections/greenlight-pinellas-doing-poorly-in-early-results/2205105

Edited by ctl
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Meanwhile the following came to my attention today. I assume the Wake commissioners know about it and will see what they can learn from it to avoid a repeat here. The populations of Pinellas and Wake are nearly the same, although the topographies are much different and perhaps the demographics too.

 

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/elections/greenlight-pinellas-doing-poorly-in-early-results/2205105

I hope that's not what happens here! I hopi the fact that Coble and his flunkies were ran out of town. Is a good indicater of things to come. And support of better transit.

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Meanwhile the following came to my attention today. I assume the Wake commissioners know about it and will see what they can learn from it to avoid a repeat here. The populations of Pinellas and Wake are nearly the same, although the topographies are much different and perhaps the demographics too.

 

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/elections/greenlight-pinellas-doing-poorly-in-early-results/2205105

I would worry about a referendum too but not because the two places resemble each other all that much. After a recent visit to the area south of Tampa, I can tell you I am almost in awe of the vast sea of conservatism in all its forms. They all seem very active about it too. Rural Wake, while red as a lobster/tomato/beet, seems like it might now be outnumbered by people that want and need a transit option. Our commissioners seem fiery enough to not act national Dems too and just go soft in the face of attack...hopefully they hit back in the media when the attacks start from Locke, Americans for Prosperity et. al. 

As very much an aside...or not an aside at all....the aging population of Florida very much needs transit to get around on...a need I witnessed by seeing many people barely keeping it on the road. I don't understand how people can over and over again vote against the very things that would do them them most good, but in Wake the hit back arguments would need to say things like, 'transit will take cars off the roads so people that have to drive are able to, as an example'. Hopefully it happens one way or another...

Edited by Jones_
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Remember, the vote was in Pinellas County which is St Peterburg-Clearwater. The population density of Pinellas is the highest in any Florida county (3300 people per square mile), and that's 4 times the population density of Wake County. Pinellas is mostly surface streets with a single expressway (I-275) that mainly connects Pinellas to other counties across the water. Those characteristics should actually have been favorable for rail transit. Other comparisons:

  • Pinellas 82% white, Wake 72% 
  • Pinellas median age 46, Wake 35
  • Pinellas median household income $37K, Wake $55K
 
Not the same but not polar opposites, either.
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Well....I'll just go ahead and say it....poor aging white people will never support transit. That density is a fabric of tiny lots with tiny houses, whereas Wake/Durham/Orange is nodes of higher density surrounded by swaths of undeveloped areas (shrinking ones of course). 

I see what you're saying....polar opposite maybe would be Portland vs. Pinellas, but Wake is a lot different than suburban Florida....hopefully different enough...

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The thing is, from what I've read the pro-transit forces in Pinellas thought they had it in the bag. The business community was on their side. Both political parties endorsed it. The outcome of the referendum, or at least the wide margin, was a real shock. Anyway, it's just one data point.

Edited by ctl
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  • 3 weeks later...

I expect that the new transit study will propose a more decentralized network with a grid of high-frequency core routes, some of which will serve downtown and others of which will not.

 

Looking at a map of Raleigh, I think that the beltline itself, from about Glenwood to New Bern, would actually make a fantastic, high ridership core route. In many cases, rapid transit in freeway corridors is not a good idea because of how car-oriented the development is near the freeway, but in this case, the beltline actually goes right through the center of some of densest nodes in the city.

 

Glenwood Avenue: Crabtree Valley Mall, plus many new developments nearby

Six Forks Road: North Hills, North Hills East, new apartments

Wake Forest Road: Duke Raleigh Hospital, several recent nearby apartment complexes 

Atlantic Avenue: Highwoods, more nearby apartment complexes, transfer to future light rail

Capital Blvd: Transfer to high-ridership bus route plus some nearby apartments

New Bern Rd: WakeMed, Transfer to high-ridership bus route, several nearby apartment complexes.

 

The challenge is, how to design an transit route using the freeway corridor. That part of the beltline can get congested, so that can slow them down. Having to getting on and off the freeway would slow them down quite a lot as well. However, Adding elevated light rail or bus lanes would be expensive and unsightly. Widening the right-of-way to add light rail or dedicated bus lanes would be expensive, extremely disruptive, and unsightly.

 

I think a good alternative would be to install bus pads near the interchanges where right-of-way already exists, and implement the BOSS (Bus On Shoulder System) program already implemented on I-40 to bypass congestion when it exists.

 

Assuming this doesn't run afoul of interstate standards in some way, this would probably be a very successful route and could be implemented even before the light rail since it might be easier and cheaper.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Yes, there will actually be two more reports. Probably the most important purpose of the next report (due in April) will be to pose the following questions:

(1) What would a route network look like with light rail vs without light rail.

(2) What portion of money should be spent on coverage-focused service versus ridership-focused service.

 

It will probably propose several "example" networks to give an idea of how choices will affect the design of the network.

 

Since the answer to those questions will have a significant impact on corridors, modes, and routes, the detailed recommendations for all those topics will come in the third report (June/July timeframe.)

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