Research Triangle Park, NC (Dec. 20, 2018) – In the first full fiscal year of the Wake Transit Plan, riders were rewarded with more than 26,500 hours of new service on GoRaleigh, GoCary and GoTriangle routes that made it easier and more convenient for them to get where they needed to go.
That investment in fiscal year 2017-2018 added Sunday hours to all GoCary routes, increased frequency from 30 minutes to every 15 on high-demand GoRaleigh routes and expanded frequency on GoTriangle’s Route 100, which serves Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Investments in fiscal year 2019, which started July 1, have allowed GoTriangle to add trips to its popular Raleigh-Durham express route and GoRaleigh and GoCary to plan new service that residents asked for. Early next year, GoRaleigh will add several routes, including a high-frequency route along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and new service to Blue Ridge Road, and GoCary will start a route serving Weston Parkway, a large employment corridor, and Park West Village, a popular shopping destination.
“We are very excited about the upcoming changes for GoCary, including expanding our service to new areas and making the existing service more efficient and easier to use,” says Kelly Blazey, transit administrator for the Town of Cary.
When Wake County voters approved a half-cent sales tax in 2016 to invest in transit, they said they wanted to provide frequent and reliable urban mobility and enhance access to transit while also connecting all Wake communities and the region.
Asking members of the public for their priorities on balancing that desire for more service with a need for more coverage has been a primary focus so far for the agencies implementing the 10-year Wake Transit Plan. In fiscal year 2018, which ended June 30, the transit agencies engaged more than 2,800 people at more than 60 meetings, presentations and events and assessed more than 3,200 survey responses and nearly 1,300 comments about how best to implement the plan.
Over the next decade, the Wake Transit Plan will:
- Add a network of more than 80 miles of bus service that runs every 15 minutes or less.
- Create 20 miles of bus rapid transit infrastructure in some highly congested corridors of Wake County.
- Build a 37-mile commuter rail transit system from Garner through Raleigh, N.C. State University, Cary, Morrisville and Research Triangle Park to Durham.
Work on BRT and commuter rail
In addition to enhancing bus stops, much of the work during 2018 has focused on major studies and preliminary work on bus rapid transit and commuter rail while also nailing down timelines for implementing new bus service and coverage over the course of the plan. The agencies have designated GoRaleigh to lead the bus rapid transit efforts and GoTriangle to lead the commuter rail planning.
In Wake County, four corridors have been identified for bus rapid transit, which includes dedicated bus lanes, priority signaling for buses at intersections, stations instead of stops and easier boarding.
Approximately 20 miles of bus rapid transit will link Raleigh to Cary and Garner, operating east from downtown to serve the WakeMed campus area, south from downtown to Garner, west toward Cary and north from downtown to allow buses to bypass congestion as they serve major destinations.
“The Wake Transit Plan’s BRT corridors will bring a level of transit infrastructure investment and service never realized in the City of Raleigh and Wake County,” says David Eatman, Raleigh’s assistant director of transportation. “The defined corridors will be transformative to the city, county and region. It is truly an exciting time as the Wake Transit Plan moves from years of planning to reality.”
Another focus during 2018 has been creating the parameters for the Community Funding Area program, which will set aside transit tax revenue to support more local community-oriented transit services. Research Triangle Park and the 10 Wake County municipalities other than Raleigh and Cary can submit project proposals and receive matching funds to create their own transit circulator services, additional demand-response trips, inter-community connections or other types of services.
125,000 trips by teens
This year also has brought the innovative new Youth GoPass, which allows Wake, Durham and Orange county teenagers ages 18 and under to ride any agency’s bus free. More than 3,400 Triangle teenagers now possess a GoPass, and since the program launched in August, those teens have used their passes to take nearly 125,000 transit trips.
The program invests in the youngest members of our community to help cultivate lifelong transit riders and gives them more access to jobs, entertainment and schools across the Triangle.
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the great start we’ve had to the new Youth GoPass program, especially given that it’s allowing teenagers to travel the entire Triangle free,” says GoTriangle President and CEO Jeff Mann. “This will be a whole generation of transit users who will find it second nature to hop onto a bus or train to get where they need to go once all of the pieces of the unified transit network connecting the three counties are in place.”
Investments in the fiscal year that ended June 30 also allowed GoTriangle to add service to its Route 300 between Raleigh and Cary, GoRaleigh to increase Sunday service to match Saturday levels and GoCary to increase midday frequencies from hourly to every 30 minutes on four routes. The year included continued funding of the Fuquay-Varina Express service to GoRaleigh Station, an additional 6,964 GoWake Access trips for the rural residents of Wake County, the purchase of 17 compressed natural gas buses for GoRaleigh and the beginning of planning and designing 60-plus bus stop locations in preparation for new service changes.
Find more information about the progress of the Wake Transit Plan in the 2018 annual report here.
Coming up in 2019 and 2020
The plans for fiscal year 2019 incorporate public requests for increased frequency and longer service hours on high-demand routes and for new service to underserved areas.
GoRaleigh will begin providing much-needed service to Southeast Raleigh High School, Walnut Creek Elementary School, the Shoppes at Battle Bridge and Farmington Square Shopping Center, as well as to Barwell Elementary School. The agency also will realign the Rex Hospital route by starting four new routes along Blue Ridge and Edwards Mill roads that will serve the N.C. Museum of Art, the N.C. Fairgrounds and PNC Arena and extend to Western Boulevard and Hillsborough Street.
GoTriangle will extend service hours even more on Route 100 and Route 300, which runs between Cary and Raleigh. GoWake Access will add 3,600 trips to get customers who are elderly or disabled where they need to go.
Fiscal year 2020, which begins in July 2019, also has many exciting improvements in store:
- Holly Springs and Rolesville will get new express routes to transfer centers.
- Knightdale will get all-day service to the new East Raleigh Transit Center transfer station.
- Morrisville’s service will expand to serve a new Wake Tech campus in Research Triangle Park.
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 that include a 17.7-mile light-rail line between Chapel Hill and Durham that will be the spine of an enhanced transit network.