Not much has changed about Raleigh’s Moore Square Transit Station since it was built in 1988. Each day employees cram into the small information booth and ticket office, while thousands of passengers wait for the bus on rotting wood benches that line the city’s transit hub.
Raleigh Transit Authority officials said updates to make the station safer, brighter and more pleasant looking are long overdue. On Friday, they held a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off a $9.7 million renovation project that includes new bathrooms, larger waiting areas and the installation of Wi-Fi.
“I think that the community realized that this facility has reached its maturity,” city Transit Administrator David Eatman said. “It’s time for modernization.”
An average of 17,000 trips are taken on GoRaleigh buses every weekday, and 22 of the city’s 27 bus routes run through Moore Square Station. Raleigh native Rebecca Montague, who rides the bus four times each day, said the renovation will make a big difference in her commute. She looks forward to a safer bus station.
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“But that should have been done a long time ago,” Montague said.
The project is expected to take nine to 12 months to complete, and when it’s over the downtown bus hub will be known as GoRaleigh Station, in line with the rebranding of the region’s local bus services.
Eatman said American South General Contractors will begin construction on Monday and hopefully finish before the end of the year.
The project design began two years ago, and now the money is ready to go – 55 percent from federal funding and 45 percent from local sources.
“It has the potential to drive new growth and development opportunities by creating greater access to the area, and bringing more visitors who will help support local businesses,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said during the groundbreaking ceremony. She stressed the need for more reliable and affordable transit options.
Bus driver Greg Milhouse, who has been working at GoRaleigh for seven years and now helps train new drivers, said he is excited for the new employee lounge planned in the renovation.
“You run trip after trip after trip. It’s so important for drivers to have a place to recover,” Milhouse said. “We need to come into the 21st century with our transit system.”
The design plans for GoRaleigh station look more like an airport than a bus station, complete with modern-looking customer waiting areas and a new electronic display for the bus schedule. The one-way flow of bus traffic will also be redesigned as a two-lane road, allowing increased capacity at the bus station.
“We want to make it more inviting,” said Raleigh Transit Authority Chairman Jason Horne. “Our goals are to increase ridership and improve customer satisfaction.”
The city also purchased 11 new buses and three new hybrid buses this year. Horne said the Transit Authority’s next project is to improve bus shelters around the city.
“I think a modern city has a good transit option,” Horne said.