Research Triangle Park, NC (Feb. 1, 2019) – Holly Springs, Rolesville, Garner and Knightdale, come on down! You’re the next beneficiaries of the Wake Transit Plan.
The plan, approved by voters in 2016, commits to connecting all Wake County towns to transit by 2027. It also aims to connect the region, enhance access to transit and provide frequent and reliable urban mobility with improvements financed mostly with a half-cent transit-designated sales tax that voters also approved.
Over the first two fiscal years of the 10-year plan, transit improvements have included more buses that come more often in more places. Now it’s time to review and approve the next round of proposals for fiscal year 2020, which starts July 1.
To view and comment on the draft work plan, click here. The official comment period for the plan is open until March 3. Afterward, planners for GoRaleigh, GoCary and GoTriangle will use the public comments to adjust the proposals before submitting the recommended work plan for review and adoption this spring. Residents will have another opportunity to comment on any revised proposals before July 1.
For GoRaleigh, proposals for fiscal year 2020 that will connect more residents to jobs and other key destinations include new all-day weekday service from downtown Raleigh to Garner, new all-day weekday service between Knightdale and a new transfer center in East Raleigh and a new weekday express route from Rolesville to Triangle Town Center that will operate in peak periods.
GoCary plans to add the Holly Springs Express or HSX, which will provide weekday peak commuter service among Holly Springs, Apex and Cary. The service, which will offer three morning round trips and three afternoon round trips, will connect to other local and regional routes available in Apex and Cary.
And North Raleigh will get a new GoTriangle weekday express route, called the NRX, that runs at peak times along Interstate 540 from Triangle Town Center to the Regional Transit Center, where riders can catch other GoTriangle buses to Durham and Chapel Hill if needed. This route would replace Route 201 service.
“We have already made so many significant improvements in the first two years of this plan, and it’s exciting to see what’s coming next to help connect our community and expand access to jobs and education,” says Sig Hutchinson, Wake County commissioner and member of the GoTriangle Board of Trustees. “We asked the public to give us priorities, and they said they wanted more frequent service in high-demand areas and then expansion across the county. This work plan delivers on that feedback. As early as this summer, we’ll be expanding service to places that don’t have transit today.”
Exploring new fare technology
Over its 10-year span, the Wake Transit Plan will:
- Add a network of more than 80 miles of service that runs every 15 minutes or less.
- Create 20 miles of bus rapid transit infrastructure.
- Build a 37-mile commuter rail transit system from Garner through Raleigh, N.C. State University, Cary, Morrisville and Research Triangle Park to Durham.
Over the next fiscal year, GoTriangle will continue early planning for the commuter rail line in coordination with railroad partners and community partners.
Improving the customer experience is another important goal of the Wake Transit Plan. Items in the draft work plan that would help customers include better bus stops, more park-and-ride lots and new transit transfer centers.
All three agencies also are working together to implement new fare technology that would include mobile ticketing, which allows customers to use their smart phones to buy and use bus passes. Plans also call for fare-capping technology that would allow single fares paid by riders to be “capped” when they reach the cost of an unlimited-ride pass.
The fiscal year 2020 draft plan also includes money to continue developing Wake County’s four bus rapid transit corridors, which include dedicated bus lanes, priority signaling for buses at intersections, stations instead of stops and easier boarding. BRT corridors will operate east, west, south and north from downtown connecting to Cary, Garner, WakeMed, NC State and other key destinations.
Pending Raleigh City Council approval, the transportation staff will submit the eastern New Bern corridor into the federal project development process by March. Project development includes environmental review, selection of a locally preferred alternative, engineering and final design.
“Our staff has completed pre-planning work and is working to ensure that the project is eligible for federal capital investment grant funding,” says David Eatman, Raleigh’s transit administrator. “The Western Boulevard, South Saunders or Wilmington and Capital Boulevard corridors will be submitted into federal project development by summer 2020.”
Other highlights of the draft work plan for fiscal year 2020 include:
- New replacement and expansion buses that will be used to operate service improvements in fiscal year 2021.
- Money for a community transit center in East Raleigh. GoRaleigh will operate several routes that will use a new community transit center in East Raleigh. A search is underway for land acquisition and design services.
- A study of where to place a transit center in or near Midtown that will also host several high-frequency network routes. This transit center will be critical for customers making east-west and north-south transfers.
- New bus shelters. City of Raleigh staff members are continually submitting new sites for design and construction work to improve the customer experience. New sites include ADA-accessible concrete surfaces, benches, shelters and trash receptacles. Solar lighting will be provided in areas that cannot be lit by streetlights.
- Enhancements to five transfer points where two or more routes will meet for transfers. Enhanced sites will include amenities such as digital passenger information signs, safety call boxes, improved lighting and larger shelter.
- A regional Bus Operations and Maintenance Facility. Construction of the new facility will accommodate GoCary’s growth for the foreseeable future, allow expansion of service and reduce ongoing operational costs of leasing an operations facility. It may also serve as a site for fueling, repairs and vehicle storage for other regional transit system vehicles.
- New Route 310. The route would run between Cary and the Regional Transit Center on weekdays and include 30-minute shuttle service from the RTC to the Wake Tech RTP campus. In January 2020, when the McCrimmon Parkway extension is finished, the shuttle service would be replaced hourly midday and evening service between the RTC and the Cary Depot, serving Morrisville and the Wake Tech RTP campus.
- New bus stops for a redesigned Route 311 and an expanded Route 310.
- Bus stop improvements including benches, shelters, signage, lighting and ADA access ramps at other new and existing locations.
- A park-and-ride lot at Wake Tech’s southern campus directly served by GoTriangle’s FRX express route to and from Fuquay-Varina. This lot will replace the current Hilltop Shopping Center Park and Ride.
A countywide plan
Fiscal year 2020 also will be the first full year of the Community Funding Area program, which will provide Wake Transit Plan money for service planning and implementation in communities outside of Raleigh and Cary.
To read about Wake transit improvements made in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, please see goforwardnc.org/wake. In fiscal year 2018, for example, GoCary added Sunday service to all its routes, GoRaleigh extended Sunday service to all regular routes and increased frequency from every 30 minutes to every 15 on high-demand routes and GoTriangle increased frequency on its Route 100, which serves Raleigh-Durham International Airport, from every hour to every 30 minutes Monday through Friday.
The Wake Transit Plan is part of a larger effort to build a strong regional transit network connecting Wake, Orange and Durham counties. Orange and Durham counties also have approved transit-designated money and long-range transit plans in recent years.