Traffic

Raleigh seeks your thoughts as it begins planning a second bus rapid transit line

Triangle visits Richmond, VA, to ride Pulse bus rapid transit system

A group of Triangle residents visited Richmond, Virginia, to ride the Pulse, the city’s new bus rapid transit line. Raleigh, Cary, Wake County and Chapel Hill plan to build similar BRT systems in coming years.
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A group of Triangle residents visited Richmond, Virginia, to ride the Pulse, the city’s new bus rapid transit line. Raleigh, Cary, Wake County and Chapel Hill plan to build similar BRT systems in coming years.

This meeting has been canceled because of Hurricane Dorian and will be rescheduled later this fall, according to the city.

With planning well underway for Raleigh’s first bus rapid transit line, along New Bern Avenue, the city is now ready to begin planning the second.

The city will hold a public meeting Thursday to kick off a study that will lay the groundwork for a bus rapid transit or BRT line along Western Boulevard, from downtown Raleigh to downtown Cary. The line will also have stops that serve N.C. State University.

The meeting will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the McKimmon Center, 1101 Gorman St., with a formal presentation scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

BRT combines the lower cost and flexibility of a traditional bus system with some of the features of light rail. Passengers will board buses from raised, covered platforms where they can buy tickets in advance. And the buses will largely travel in their own lanes, with traffic lights that turn green whenever they approach an intersection, helping them avoid getting bogged down in traffic.

The Wake Transit Plan, which voters endorsed in 2016 when they approved a half-cent sales tax to raise money for transit, calls for four BRT lines radiating from downtown Raleigh, north, south, east and west.

The goal is to have all four lines built and operating by 2027. The New Bern Avenue BRT, which follows one of the city’s busiest bus lines, will likely be finished first, in late 2023, if all goes as planned, city officials say.

In addition to explaining the basic plan for BRT along Western Boulevard, the city will use Thursday’s meeting to collect feedback from the public.

For those who can’t make it, an online survey, at publicinput.com/BRTProjects, asks how people might use the BRT line and where stations or stops should be located. Several have already said they think it should serve the State Fairgrounds and PNC Arena, even if that would require a detour from Western Boulevard.

People can fill out the online survey until the first week of October.

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 20 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.
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