Road Worrier Blog

Wake transit plan – which never got first look from commissioners – needs ‘second look,’ Triangle Transit chair says

Fred Day IV of Raleigh, chairman of the Triangle Transit board of trustees, says it’s “time to take a second look” at the Wake County transit plan – which has not yet received a first look by county commissioners since it was developed two years ago by Triangle Transit planners and County Manager David Cooke.

But he reiterated his support for proposed rush-hour commuter train service that would connect Durham and Garner with stops along the way at Research Triangle Park, Cary, N.C. State University and downtown Raleigh.

“Triangle Transit is committed to working with our county commissioners and our other elected leaders, stakeholders, the business community, and technical staffs to craft the best possible plan for Wake County,” Day, a former Progress Energy CEO, said in a news release Tuesday after the Wake commissioners appointed him to a new term on the three-county transit agency board. “It’s time to take a second look at Wake’s transit plan and work together to provide our growing community with the full range of transit options it needs for today and in the future. A lot has changed in the Triangle since Wake’s original draft plan was completed.”

The Wake commissioners are bringing three transit experts from Florida and Colorado to Raleigh next Tuesday, Nov. 12, to evaluate a local trains-and-buses plan that commissioners have refused to discuss since 2011. The Regional Transportation Alliance, a business group that lobbies for transportation improvements, has criticized the plan and is calling for a new study of bus rapid transit – a hybrid breed of rubber-tire transportation that is less expensive and more flexible than light rail, but faster and more comfortable than regular bus service.

Bob Geolas, president and CEO of Research Triangle Park, and other transit advocates have expressed concern that the new bus rapid transit talk will undermine prospects for rail transit.

In an interview, Day noted that bus rapid transit had been considered and rejected a few years ago by a three-county citizen panel that developed a new plan with trains and standard buses.

“There’s nothing wrong with looking at it again,” Day said. “Maybe there are some improvements that have taken place. But that doesn't mean bus rapid transit ought to replace commuter rail. I think commuter rail has a strong place in the plan. It’s a great way to connect a 37-mile area from Durham to Garner.”

The Wake commissioners also named Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones to the Triangle Transit board.