FEB. 14, 2022 — The draft FY2023 Wake Transit Work Plan is available for community review during a 30-day comment period from February 14 to March 16. The draft Work Plan is located online, along with additional information, at: https://goforwardnc.org/wakeinput/

The annual Wake Transit Work Plan allocates projected revenues to fund service investments and capital projects that will improve and expand Wake County’s transit network in the upcoming fiscal year (July-June). The “Four Big Moves” of the Wake Transit program are designed to accomplish the following goals: 1) Connect the region; 2) Connect all Wake County communities; 3) Create frequent and reliable urban mobility; and, 4) Enhance access to transit.

“The service and infrastructure projects proposed to receive funding in FY23 reflect our commitment toward accomplishing the goals of the Wake Transit Plan, known as the Four Big Moves,” says Gaby Lawlor, Chair of Wake County’s Transit Planning Advisory Committee. “We are asking the community to take a look at the draft Work Plan to tell us what they think about the direction we’re headed. Their feedback is a critical component of all Wake Transit planning activities, but especially as we develop each annual Work Plan.”

A total of $118.1 million is budgeted in the draft Work Plan for FY23. It is estimated that $104 million of that total will be collected through the transit-dedicated, half-cent sales tax, with the balance derived from a mixture of other funding sources. Ongoing and completed project studies have provided updated cost and schedule information that planning partners used to evaluate and rebalance the FY23 Work Plan budget, as well as multi-year investment strategies through FY2030.

Overall, the Work Plan balances the careful use of taxpayer dollars with thoughtful investment in transit. The $29.8 million operating budget provides the necessary funding to administer the Wake Transit program and to continue bus operations that were funded in previous years. It also includes just over $2 million dollars for new Community Funding Area Program applications, as well as previously established CFAP-funded operations, such as Morrisville’s new Smart Shuttle service, the Wake Forest Circulator, and the upcoming GoApex Route 1. It is also proposed that the City of Raleigh will receive $670,680 to establish the first portion of Route 9, which is a new high-frequency bus service along the busy Hillsborough Street corridor through downtown.

Capital projects in the draft Work Plan will result in the construction of new transit stations, centers, and transfer points; continued improvements to park-and-ride lots and local bus stops; the expansion and construction of system support facilities; the purchase of alternative fuel buses and other vehicles. Two of the larger proposed capital expenditures are for the construction phase of the Raleigh Union Station project and the final design phase of the Wake BRT: Southern Corridor project. Combined, Wake Transit’s investment in capital projects will improve service reliability, access to transit, and the rider experience while providing new and enhanced travel options to meet evolving customer needs. A total of $88.3 million is included in the FY23 capital budget. About $47 million is proposed to be allocated to specific FY23 projects with the remainder placed in fund balance to support future efforts.

BRT corridors a priority

Since its creation, the Wake Transit program has provided funding and other support to increase the frequency and reliability of urban mobility. For example, development of the four (4) core Wake bus rapid transit (Wake BRT) corridors, that will radiate outward in each direction from downtown Raleigh, continues to be a priority:

  • The Wake BRT: New Bern Ave. Corridor runs eastward to New Hope Rd. It will serve numerous businesses and neighborhoods as well as WakeMed’s main campus. This 5.1-mile corridor is the furthest along in the project development process. Construction is anticipated to begin in FY23.

 

  • The Wake BRT: Western Blvd. Corridor will extend west to downtown Cary. A preferred route alternative was selected, and a detailed corridor study was completed in 2021. Preliminary design is underway with anticipated completion in FY23.

 

  • The Wake BRT: Southern Corridor will provide frequent service between Raleigh and the Garner Station area. A preferred route alternative was selected in 2021 and preliminary design is underway. More than $7.6 million to get this project through the final design phase is included in the draft FY23 Work Plan.

 

  • The Wake BRT: Northern Corridor is anticipated to serve the communities surrounding Capital Blvd. In 2022, the City of Raleigh plans additional studies to update the list of routing alternatives for this BRT corridor.

In support of the Big Move to connect the region, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization launched a study in 2021 that will identify opportunities to extend rapid bus service from the Wake BRT: Western Corridor out to Research Triangle Park in Durham County, as well as from the Wake BRT: Southern Corridor into Johnston County. Results of the study are anticipated to be published in FY23.

The Greater Triangle Commuter Rail Feasibility Study Phase 2 is nearing completion. This new transit service would connect western Durham to Garner, with a possible extension to Clayton still under review. In FY23, governing bodies from across the region are expected to receive the study results and consider taking action to move the project into the next phase of development. In previous years, Wake Transit funds were placed in reserve to support future approved commuter rail planning activities. Therefore, no additional funds have been requested in the draft FY23 Work Plan.

Wake Bus Plan Update coming

Another planning milestone expected to be met in FY23 is the completion of the Wake Bus Plan Update. Led by GoTriangle, this effort will include short-range transit investment plans for GoRaleigh, GoCary, GoTriangle, and GoWake Access that will define an implementation strategy for transit investments through FY2030.

Funds allocated for new and upgraded bus stops in previous Work Plans have resulted in 266 bus stop projects throughout Wake County, with many more currently in various stages of feasibility and planning. At least 146 new stops have been built and 120 existing stops have been improved with Wake Transit funds. An additional $35.4 million is requested for additional bus infrastructure-related investments in FY23.

Interested community members can view the City of Raleigh’s new interactive map to see completed and planned bus stop investments within its service area:  https://ral.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=c748be9e9c1b43dfa2836eb3cd7c0784

Wake Transit planners will collect comments submitted between February 14 and March 16. Input received will be carefully considered by the TPAC for incorporation into the FY23 Wake Transit Work Plan that will be recommended for adoption in late April. Community members and other stakeholders will have a second opportunity to provide feedback on the FY23 Work Plan prior to its adoption in June.

Anyone interested in following Wake Transit program progress on Twitter can visit @WakeTransit. They may also sign up for email updates by visiting: https://goforwardnc.org/ and scrolling to the bottom of the page and entering their information.

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