(APRIL 24, 2020) Though the coronavirus pandemic is keeping most Triangle residents close to home right now, transit plans in Orange, Durham and Wake counties are still moving toward the day we can board a bus again and go anywhere on a mission or a whim.
The plans, which cover the next fiscal year starting July 1, are at the stage in the yearly approval process when planning agencies need the public to weigh in with thoughts and feedback before final recommendations are approved.
Here is a look at all the ways you can influence the next round of improvements to the unified regional transit network that the three counties are building together, funded mostly with voter-approved half-cent sales taxes designated to transit. With the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders leading to lower sales tax and fare collections, however, some of the transit projects might be deferred to other years.
The Triangle’s regional transit authority, GoTriangle runs routes in and receives funds from Orange, Durham and Wake counties. In January, GoTriangle released its proposed service improvements for fiscal year 2021 for public comment, and those proposals have now become recommendations that are ready for comment.
Starting in August 2020, GoTriangle would make improvements that affect five routes. One change would connect Holly Springs to transit service for the first time and one would expand service to more destinations in Morrisville and Cary between the Regional Transit Center and Cary Depot. In addition, GoTriangle Routes 800 and 800S would serve Streets at Southpoint in Durham from a bus stop on Renaissance Parkway instead of at the mall once construction of a bus stop and bus lane is completed.
The public comment period for GoTriangle’s recommended August service changes opened Friday and ends May 17. Find and comment on the recommendations here.
With its proposed service improvements for fiscal year 2021, GoDurham would be building on a large number of improvements it instituted in January as part of its 2020 plans.
In August, the agency plans to add more than 6 more miles of 15-minute all-day service, more than 12 miles of 30-minute service on Saturdays and nearly 33 miles of 30-minute service nights, Sundays and holidays. These changes would bring an additional 13,400 residents and 11,700 jobs within a quarter-mile of frequent service in Durham.
In January, GoDurham added 15-minute service Monday through Saturday to two major routes, bringing the number of its high-frequency routes to five. It also added 30-minute service on nights and Sundays to several other highly used routes
The public comment period for GoDurham’s recommended August service changes opened Friday and ends May 17. Find and comment on the recommendations here.
COUNTY WORK PLANS
In addition to approving service improvements, each county adopts a work plan every fiscal year that outlines all planned operational and capital expenditures, including for bus stops or new transit facilities or for transit projects other than bus service. In fiscal year 2020, GoTriangle, GoDurham, GoRaleigh and GoCary have been working toward a unified mobile ticketing plan that would allow passengers to pay fares and obtain passes on their smartphones. Wake County allocated money for mobile ticketing in prior years, and Durham plans to support it in FY21.
After the comment periods noted below, each county will revise its work plan based on public feedback and submit it to governing bodies for approval by July 1.
Durham County FY21 Plan
Durham County is revising its long-term transit plans in the wake of the discontinuation of a light-rail project that was supposed to connect downtown Durham with Chapel Hill by 2027. In fiscal year 2021, the county plans to improve transit infrastructure such as bus stops, park-and-ride lots and bicycle and pedestrian paths and to plan for new transit services, such as the commuter rail project that would run from Durham to Garner in Wake County.
Specific capital improvements proposed for FY21 include ordering electric buses and developing transit emphasis corridors on Holloway Street, Fayetteville Street and Chapel Hill Road. The corridors would receive improvements to sidewalks, crosswalks and signage, for example, as well as new shelters, pads or lighting for the actual bus stops. In addition, 40 bus stops designed in 2020 would be built in 2021, and an additional 50 stops will undergo design this fiscal year as well.
Please note, GoDurham Routes 5, 12 and 12B will have routing and schedule changes in the Hope Valley, Renaissance Center and South Alston Avenue/TW Alexander/NC 55 loop areas.
The public comment period on Durham County’s recommended FY21 work plan opened Wednesday and ends May 22. Find and comment on the plan here.
Orange County FY21 Plan
Orange County is revising its long-term transit plans in the wake of the discontinuation of the light-rail project as well. In 2021, the county plans to focus on creating more high-frequency routes where buses arrive every 15 minutes, increasing weekend bus service and keeping its plans for the North-South Bus Rapid Transit project moving forward. The BRT project would create an 8.2-mile transit, bicycle and pedestrian route along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, South Columbia Street and US 15-501 South.
Orange County also plans to increase the hours of the Hillsborough Circulator by two hours a day and to split it into two routes to reduce headways from hourly to every 30 minutes.
The public comment period on Orange County’s recommended FY21 work plan opened Wednesday and ends May 22. Find and comment on the plan here.
REGIONAL TRANSIT CENTER STUDY
The Regional Transit Center in Durham is the Triangle’s transit hub where riders can connect to routes serving Wake, Orange and Durham counties. GoTriangle and its municipal and regional partners are exploring how to update the Regional Transit Center to improve its safety, functionality and convenience.
To help with the process, GoTriangle needs people to complete a survey about the existing RTC experience. Starting Friday, please take the survey at gotriangle.org/RTC. The survey closes May 24.
PARK AND RIDE STUDY
GoTriangle is also leading an effort to evaluate improvements for existing and planned park and ride lots. The conditions at seven lots have been evaluated: Hughes Street and Lake Pine Plaza in Apex, Southpark Community Center in Fuquay-Varina, Carter-Finley and District Drive in Raleigh and one each in Wendell and Zebulon.
Now, the agency needs the public to help prioritize improvements to existing lots and to help identify and prioritize proposals for new or relocated lot locations.
Starting Friday, please take the survey at goforwardnc.org/waketransit. The survey will close May 24.
Please note: The health and safety of our riders are a top priority for GoTriangle. As we continue to practice social-distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, we are taking steps to ensure that we engage the community in ways that are both safe and effective. We recognize the value of ongoing public engagement and remain committed to keeping the community informed of major transit improvements and investments.