New Transit Meetings Look for Public Input on Buses

Cary, NC – One year ago, a majority of voters in Wake County approved the county Transit Plan, with new sales taxes and registration fees put in place to raise money for mass transit projects. In new public information meetings this week and online, the county is looking for public input on what form new mass transit, particularly bus transit, should take.

Public Input on Bus Stops

One of the key features of the Wake County Transit Plan is a heavy investment into local bus transportation. Part of that deals with increasing connectivity. Current maps for the Transit Plan show new connections between various towns and cities, including hourly and half-hourly routes and various rapid corridors with limited stops. For example, under this connectivity plan, Cary and Morrisville would be linked by a bus route that would run all day, every thirty minutes.

But another important facet of the bus component is the location of new stops. This was also the subject of some public contention back in 2016 when the Transit Plan was first being promoted, as there are various parts of the county that are underserved by buses. Those residents expressed concern the new plan would continue to not put stops near them. Currently, West Cary has few bus connections compared to the rest of the town and Morrisville has no bus system of its own, although the Transit Plan does allocate money for Morrisville to possibly one up.

Those questions of where new bus stops should be, or if there should be new bus stops at all, are the subject of a new survey by Wake Transit. In addition to studies of transit in the county, the Transit Plan’s authors say these survey results will help decide how bus access should be expanded.

Many of these questions ask residents to choose between two different philosophies of bus access. For example, should a bus route:

  • Have fewer stops and run faster?
  • Have more stops but run slower?

Or, should bus stops first go:

  • Where demand is high?
  • Where there is limited or no service currently?

Questions such as these look at what kind of transit system Wake County residents want and can help determine future bus maps. There are also questions about bus stop quality, bus fuel types and more.

Other Advances in Public Transit

The timetable for these bus route improvements is expected to take place over the next one to three years. Commuter rail, on the other hand, is closer to 10 years out.

Maps for potential commuter rail show Cary would sit in the center of a route running from Durham and RTP to Garner and back again. The commuter rail plan, much like the bus plans, are all based around a central idea of linking the Triangle’s counties, though with the project so far out, specifics are scarce.

New information at this week’s Wake County Transit Plan meetings also give more information on new buses the county is proposing. These buses would be larger and ideally accommodate more passengers. Also, the goal is to have buses that can wirelessly signal to traffic lights, leading to a faster and safer route.

The next Wake County Transit Plan information meeting runs from 1 to 3 PM at the Cary Arts Center on Thursday, November 16, 2017.

Story and photos by Michael Papich. Coverage sponsored in part by The Cary Theater.