Tom Looney: Beyond rail

February 19, 2014 

The Regional Transportation Alliance business leadership group shares the editorial board’s desire for an accelerated expansion of mass transit options that will connect our region and drive economic development. Your Feb. 5 editorial “Park spark” implied that any plan that did not include the immediate implementation of rail is shortsighted. We endorse a long-term rail vision. However, the assumption that rail is required for transit success at either a county or regional level is unnecessarily limiting.

RTA supports a bus rapid transit-based approach for Wake County, as it can provide access to more regional destinations and support a broader population. Recently, Montgomery County, Md., approved a countywide BRT system, while Cleveland’s “HealthLine” BRT has helped attract billions in economic development.

The City of Raleigh is studying BRT among other options for major corridors. We encourage a similar effort at the county level to develop one or more BRT-based alternatives, some of which could include rail elements from Day One or over time.

An innovative, research-based community must consider how a BRT-based approach can provide more residents greater mobility in the near future. We should not restrict our thinking solely to transit plans based on rail. It is time to move forward.

Tom Looney

Transit chair, Regional Transportation Alliance, Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Cary

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