During its search for its second U.S. headquarters, Amazon cited a strong mass transit system as a key factor in its final decision. GoTriangle leaders were not concerned, citing the region’s current and future efforts to combine increased bus service, bus rapid transit, light rail and commuter rail system to alleviate roadway congestion.

Despite continued controversies and challenges, GoTriangle is looking forward to 2019 as it continues to strengthen the Triangle region’s transit system.

Over the next 10 years, the agency says it will:

  • Expand bus service
  • Improve bus stops and shelters
  • Implement bus rapid transit
  • Build a 17.7- mile light rail line connecting Durham and Chapel Hill
  • Build a 37-mile commuter rail system extending from Durham to Garner in Wake County

Durham-Orange Light Rail Moves Forward with Underground Tunnel

Earlier this month, the agency announced it had submitted to the Federal Transit Administration a new proposal for Durham and Orange counties’ light rail project through downtown Durham. This proposal includes the construction of an underground tunnel to bring a portion of the light-rail line through downtown Durham.

The original plan had called for closing a portion of Blackwell Street to pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The plan was opposed by leaders at the Durham Performing Arts Center and the American Tobacco Campus, among others.

After meeting with city leaders, GoTriangle proposed a new strategy for light rail though downtown. According to a statement from GoTriangle, the new proposal submitted to the FTA includes the construction of a tunnel to bring a portion of the light-rail line through downtown Durham underground, keeping Blackwell street open and eliminating interaction between the railroads, car traffic and light rail at street crossings in the corridor.

“I am excited that we have all come together – community stakeholders and GoTriangle staff- with a solution that addresses the needs for a vibrant downtown and ensures that we are moving forward with the successful implementation of the transformational Durham Orange Light Rail Project,” said Durham County Commissioner Chair Wendy Jacobs in a statement released by GoTriangle on December 14.

The Durham-Orange light rail system is scheduled to begin service in 2028 and is projected to provide 26,000 trips per day for passengers. Read more about Durham-Orange light rail.

Wake County Plan to Strengthen Regional Transit

In November 2016, voters in Wake County approved a transit-dedicated half cent tax to expand and improve the county’s transit network through the 10-year Wake County Transit Plan.

Based on feedback from the community, GoTriangle set priorities for the 10-year plan, which include:

  • Adding a network of more than 80 miles of bus service that runs every 15 minutes or less.
  • Creating 20 miles of bus rapid transit infrastructure in some highly congested corridors of Wake County.
  • Building the 37-mile commuter rail transit system from Garner through Raleigh, N.C. State University, Cary, Morrisville and RTP to Durham.

A key component of the plan is the implementation of a 20-mile bus rapid transit system linking Raleigh to Cary and Garner. GoRaleigh will lead these efforts, which include four corridors that will feature dedicated bus lanes, priority signaling for buses at intersections and bus stations in stead of stops to improve boarding.

“The Wake Transit Plan’s BRT corridors will bring a level of transit infrastructure investment and service never realized in the City of Raleigh and Wake County,” said David Eatman, Raleigh’s assistant director of transportation in a statement. “The defined corridors will be transformative to the city, county and region.”

As part of it transit efforts, GoTriangle is also creating a new generation of public transit users through its youth GoPass program, which allows Wake, Durham and Orange County teenagers 18 and under to ride any agency’s bus free.

“This will be a whole generation of transit users who will find it second nature to hop onto a bus or train to get where they need to go once all of the pieces of the unified transit network connecting the three counties are in place,” said GoTriangle President and CEO Jeff Mann in a statement.