Garner residents got their first chance to look at the new four transit plan options for the county.
And not many agreed with any of them.
The options provide two ways to utilize each transit technology; one scenario is a ridership option and one is a coverage option. The ridership options focus on attracting more customers with more frequency in a centralized area. The coverage options emphasize providing opportunities for people to access transit at many points in the community.
For Garner specifically, there are two options. One option, is that a bus would loop around the town and pick up more people but would run every hour. The second option is a linear route, which would come every 30 minutes but have fewer stops. Residents of Garner who want to ride the bus may have to walk longer distances to catch it, or even drive their car to a nearby parking lot.
What many residents said they were interested in was a commuter rail option to come through Garner. It was included in previous plans but has since been eliminated as an option. A commuter rail option will continue to go through Raleigh and Cary.
Tim Gardiner, a Wake County transportation planner, said a commuter rail through Garner was eliminated as an option because it was starting to get more expensive.
“A commuter rail is not necessarily dead for Garner,” Gardiner said. “It’s just not in the next 10 years.”
He said more infrastructure would have been needed and by doing that it would shrink the network it could potentially reach in the county. Gardiner said the community may have the money after the first 10 years.
“It would be popular in Garner, but how popular would it be elsewhere in Wake County,” he said.
Amaka Flynn, a Garner resident who works for DHHS, said she supported more infrastructure in the plans and didn’t agree with Garner not having a rail come to the town after the previous plans suggested it would.
“I certainly think that the rail plan gives us more economic development and kind of helps us grow into the future,” Flynn said. “If we’re waiting 10 years, I really do believe Garner will be left behind in terms of jobs, businesses coming to this community and families coming to this community while places like Raleigh and Cary will continue to grow.”
Anne Runyon, also a Garner resident and freelance illustrator, agreed.
“I’m very much in favor of the rail service,” Runyon said. “Like many people in Garner I think we need to have it come to Garner and I’d like to see it in the future go to Johnston County.
“I think the way to structure our transportation is not to keep drawing circles with roads and construction around the Raleigh and Wake County area – the developed areas – but to makes these radiating spokes going out and rail is the best way to do that,” she continued. “And then develop buses that have better schedules to the community that need them.”
After the public feedback period concludes, planners and other technical staff will develop a transit strategy. It will include a review of funding, regulatory and operational constraints that may impact corridors and technology options. This work is expected to wrap up in the fall.