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2035 Triangle Regional Transit Vision Plan


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If you look at the underlying data, they define greater Raleigh to be the 8-county CSA. It doesn't mean that you'll see the same percentage of growth inside the Raleigh city limits, the ETJ, or even Wake County.

 

Chatham, Johnson, and Granville are likely to capture a lot of that growth. 

Edited by ctl
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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

With both Raleigh and Durham-Orange having flirted with and then walked away from LR, the stage is set for commuter train service over the NCRR between Mebane/Hillsborough/Durham on one end and Garner

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

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Wake County is enormous, and is still a good ways from built out. So I actually think Wake may grow by more than 50%.

 

Wake grew about 40% during the 1980s, 48% during the 1990s, and 43% during the 2000s. All it will take is for Wake to average 22% growth per decade, or 2% annually, through the 2010s and 2020s to growth to grow by 50% which is feasible in my mind. For the first half of the 2010s Wake has been averaging somewhere around 3%. At some point the land available on the fringes in Wake will be exhausted and growth within the county will slow, but we may not reach that point by 2030.

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Hello all,

The below is a quote from Sig Hutchinson, Wake County Commissioner in today's N&O, regarding Rob Christensen’s Feb. 1 column “ Raleigh needs buses, not light rail”: There is a significant and important difference between light rail and the other proposed option within the transit plan of commuter rail.

Whereas light rail is designed for urban settings with smaller trains, shorter distances between stations and more frequent trips, commuter rail is designed to run farther and faster and is a much better fit for our sprawling suburban growth patterns. Commuter rail costs much less than light rail, can be completed in a shorter time frame and runs on existing rail lines.

It also travels along existing clogged commuter corridors such as I-40 to help relieve traffic congestion and deliver commuters to desirable designations such as RTP, Durham, Cary and downtown Raleigh. This provides more choices and less traffic for everyone, including those who continue to drive.

The Wake County Transit Plan Advisory Committee also saw commuter rail as a viable option when seven of the nine teams selected commuter rail as part of their designed transit plan.

Buses will always be the major part of any new transit plan for Wake County, but let’s not forget other forms of transit such as commuter rail that could also be a viable part of the solution.

Agree...I do!

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The implication is that the county commission has quit considering light rail.

 

Commuter rail is downtown-centric, but it can reach the outer communities in the county that happen to be on a railroad (Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale/Wendell/Zebulon, Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Wake Forest). That could be a very shrewd political equation. The technology for commuter rail is well understood, and the right-of-way is 99% there (for better or worse). But commuter rail isn't cheap, in terms of either up-front costs or ongoing operational subsidies. It requires cooperation from Norfolk Southern and CSX. And it doesn't reach north Raleigh; they'd have to be appeased by better bus service.

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Going north from downtown, there could be commuter stations with park & rides along the existing rail line:

  • near Six Forks & Atlantic
  • near New Hope Church Rd & St. Albans
  • near Spring Forest & Atlantic
  • Durant Rd
  • maybe eventually even all the way out to Rogers Rd in Wakefield & a downtown Wake Forest station?
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I've only ridden commuter rail in Europe and there it functions as a fast regional train that integrates with other countries systems and City systems. It's less about commuting and more about completing the transit web. Dense development still was near the Light Rail. In NC commuter rail seems like a best fit as a replacement for intra-State Amtrak by stitching together MSAs far flung points and even MSA's to each other....say Raleigh to Greensboro service with stops in Burlington and Mebane, in addition to Durham and Chapel Hill. Take Amtrak, and remove about half its stops and keep on with the high-speed upgrades so that its purpose is to hit big destinations for travelers in a reasonable time. I'm not sure if the available ROW would support this or NCRR would go along with it, but my thoughtful knee-jerk is that this is how these pieces should fit together. 

Edited by Jones_
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I will be the Negative Nancy again (but it's all in reality) that this is another ABLR stunt (Anything But Light Rail). The argument that light rail doesn't work in sprawled out areas is just false again. I would like these people (who, by the way, probably have never used public transit except on a trip to Europe or NYC) to come visit an area where light rail serves a large metropolitan area with suburbs. Growth in the Vancouver suburbs of Richmond, Burnaby, and New Westminster (15-20 minutes outside of the city core) has all developed around light rail stations.  

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^^IMO it's not a matter of whether it will work because it can, the real question is whether you can convince the feds to invest 50% of the cost . The durham-orange line is far from certain & might get axed if it approaches the 2 billion mark like I expect it to

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I'm going to put my finance hat on for a moment. Unless Orange, Durham, and Wake counties can project a reasonable ROI at some point, I don't see any commuter or light rail lines becoming a reality in the Triangle.

 

No metro will spend millions, if not billions, building a rail system only to operate indefinitely in the red. There may or may not be sufficient demand, but if the future revenue projections don't support it I don't see it getting built.

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This is hard to actually hammer out, but what your looking for with public investment is a net positive increase in GDP as a result of the investment. That positive might be *less negative* as would be the case with fire stations. 

With light rail, you're comparing to totally different options (fire is just yes or no, with coverage being a slide bar). I'm making up a measure here  I'll denote GDP increase/dollar invested. Can you get more growth per dollar spent on light rail than spending the same amount elsewhere? If so, then its a no-brainer. Light rail wins. Of course lifecycle costs and ridership horizons are tricky to analyze but obvious parts of the equation as well. 

Mind you, this all makes the huge assumption that growth is the goal. Quality of life doesn't have a unit of measure but I imagine a zero or negative growth situation could be described where people's stress is reduced, free time increased and healthy life span increased and a project or idea sold on those grounds. 

Edited by Jones_
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NC roads operate in the red. Education operates in the red. Scientific research operates in the red. The US forgot what investment is/was.  

 

It may be true that these things operate in the red most of the time; however, these are things that are critical to our society and economy. Light rail, at least at this point, is not.

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I understand that he is trying to get everyone to the table and minimize controversy by not interjecting his opinion of what we need around here, but he is a major player in the development of transit systems all over the place. I want to know what options he thinks are best for this area. This process seems a little backwards to me. Why bring in someone with his experience and not get his honest opinion of how he thinks we should do it in this specific area. Laying out our choices and saying "OK. Now it's up to you" leaves something to be desired. I agree that we need to be the ones deciding how it gets done, but we need his honest opinions to factor into final decisions. Without getting any guidance and feedback from him on what he thinks will work best  it's basically the blind leading the blind. I feel like the ousted Republicans designed this process to be this way on purpose so that no progress would really be made by this study. I really do hope he gives his opinions at the end of the process.

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No, it makes great sense. It doesn't make sense to delegate a political/values based decision to a consultant. Many folks may be under the impression that all we need is VISION and magically everything will fall into place. But that is an extremely naive world view. The reality is that nearly everything, transit planning included, is a very messy business that involves compromise between multiple various interest groups. If you really want to get public support, and have the public feel like they own the plan, these sort of tradeoffs should be made transparently.

All he asks of us is to make a very high level decision. (budget allocation between infrastructure vs ridership service vs coverage service). Then he takes it from there to design the optimal transit network, down to the individual route level, given those choices.

Of course he won't say it himself, but from reading his blog and the Transit Choices Report, I would guess that if that value decisions were up to him, he would probably start with big improvements to service before looking at much in the way of major infrastructure. He is always highly critical of "technology first" transit planning, and Wake is pretty severely transit-starved compared to many of our peers such as Columbus, Austin, and Charlotte.

Even Durham and Orange absolutely blow Raleigh and Wake out of the water in terms of transit relevance. Even including Wolfline, Durham and Orange have approximately double the transit ridership of Wake, in spite of the significantly lower population. That is because they have shown a solid commitment to bus service over the past 10 years and have been steadily building a base of ridership. That has put them in a position to where light rail may actually make sense now.

The way I see it, a light rail line without substantial investment in the less glamorous but still very important bus service is basically a vanity project.

As for how to allocate the service budget, generally the regions he works with seem to go with more ridership service and less coverage service, but not by too much. So maybe about a 2:1 ratio of Ridership:Coverage might be in order. I recall in one of his blog posts that Reno went 4:1 and he was somewhat surprised and said that was the most unbalanced he'd seen (but he supported it since they arrived at that decision through an open dialogue.)

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^With no vision, what is the point? Wake County can't even get off the ground-it really has no idea what the priorities are and what the purpose of this whole exercise is. It's a circuitous argument that always ends up with the same thing-nothing. Is transit only for (1) those that don't have cars (Raleigh's view), or (2) is it a way to increase better planning to prevent further sprawl (not Raleigh's view)? I would say keep on keeping on if it's truly number 1-throw some more buses on the road to get people to their nanny jobs in Oakwood, North Raleigh, etc. Don't waste any more time or money on this. 

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I just think that a consultant should consult. Like I said, I think the people in the area should be the ones really making the decisions. I just want him to say what he thinks will work best in the area so that his opinion can be taken into consideration before any final plans are made. He seems to be in teaching mode now, which is good, but he should give his opinions on what would work best at the end of this process. 

Edited by Euphorius
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DanRNC, I think you are making a gross oversimplification:

Vision => Light Rail

No Vision => No Light Rail

The real goal, the real vision, I would say, is to accelerate urbanization and increase the density of Raleigh and Wake County.

The main key to doing this is actually zoning not light rail. If you zone for high density, in places where people want to live, then lo and behold, developers will develop there, people will live there, and density will increase.

How did North Hills happen, for example. A number of reasons. First, it's in a desirable location, between the moneyed parts of ITB Raleigh and some of the more upscale parts of North Raleigh. But the city had to agree to a massive upzoning. All without much in the way of transit.

Use the "frontages" and other form-based aspects of the UDO to make sure these nodes are redeveloped to be walkable and face the street. Transit then becomes a tool to increase density beyond the point where cars alone can manage.

The Six Forks Road corridor study identifies that demand and prices at the intersections of Millbrook and Lynn would support higher density, mixed use, street-oriented redevelopment in the fairly near term (<10 years.) Then think of how many other interserctions there are like this throughout the area. Changes like this - creating walkable nodes all over the city, and then linking them with bus transit, is to me just as big of a change, and just as important of a goal as building up downtown or along Hillsborough Street. But this sort of change probably can't be achieved without robust bus transit.

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^With no vision, what is the point? Wake County can't even get off the ground-it really has no idea what the priorities are and what the purpose of this whole exercise is. It's a circuitous argument that always ends up with the same thing-nothing. Is transit only for (1) those that don't have cars (Raleigh's view), or (2) is it a way to increase better planning to prevent further sprawl (not Raleigh's view)? I would say keep on keeping on if it's truly number 1-throw some more buses on the road to get people to their nanny jobs in Oakwood, North Raleigh, etc. Don't waste any more time or money on this. 

 

In order for transit to be successful anywhere, not only does #1 and #2 need to be part of the equation, but there must also be adoption and usage of light rail transit by all demographics from all parts of the metro, including the upper middle class and wealthy.

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The population density of Wake County will increase irrespective of transit. The extent and loci of urbanization are different matters. The interesting aspect of commuter trains is that they could trigger urbanization that isn't DTR. In other words, the centers of Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon, Garner, Clayton, Fuquay-Varina, Apex, and Morrisville could get a big boost from commuter train stations. Someone might counterargue that urbanization of cities of less than 50,000 isn't true urbanization. Maybe, maybe not. If the objective is simply to prevent suburbia from overspreading every currently undeveloped square mile of the county, then increasing the density inside these existing town limits would do the trick too.

 

But no ITB real estate developer will want to see that happen!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Oh look, what a huge suprise....and I'm sure the timing of the Dem takeover of the board after the 2014 elections is just a coincidence...of course this bill would have still been introduced had the GOP kept their majority on the board... lol who didn't see this one coming?

 

http://www.wral.com/gop-bill-to-expand-wake-county-board-of-commissioners-rankles-dems/14491211/

 

I can't imagine how a Republican retakeover of the board in a few years could benefit regional transit, although to be honest the way Wake County is trending in a few cycles it will be difficult for the legislature to draw boards w/ a GOP majority, so things may just end up being delayed a bit here....

Edited by NCMike1981
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Isn't the school board majority "Dem" as well? I'm not sure at all…are other counties all at-large commission seats too? It seems like if the State can dictate the County election district they really have just abolished the County in a way. GS 153A-58(3)(d) says the County can adopt the "optional" structure of at-large elections. Barefoot would have to either specifically deny this ability to Wake, remove this option entirely or otherwise allow the State to dictate if 153A applies. Seems like an easy case for ACLU or someone along those lines to sue over, perhaps even Wake ail sue depending on how the language reads in Barefoot's bill. 

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I'm amazed that Wake County Commission seats are elected on an at-large basis. Most local governments in the deep South were required to adopt vote-within-your-district after 1965 in order to reconcile with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. There is no at-large representation in those jurisdictions. Live-within-your-district, such as the Wake County Commission, wasn't sufficient to get USDOJ approval in most places. The City of Raleigh has a hybrid system.

Edited by ctl
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