Panel advises Wake to slow down on mass transit plans

Posted November 12, 2013
Updated November 13, 2013

A panel of national experts assembled by county commissioners to look at mass transit in Wake County advised leaders Tuesday to proceed with caution on any plans for rail and rapid-bus systems in the area.

"What we found were the (bus) ridership numbers are fairly low," Clarence Marsella, former general manager and chief executive officer of the Denver Regional Transportation District, told county leaders at a meeting Tuesday.

Adding rail typically increases ridership 30 percent, he said, so 30 percent of an already low number doesn't justify the high cost of rail.

The experts also said that congestion in Wake County and surrounding areas is not as bad as other places in the country and that the area already has a well-functioning road system. and that the area already has a well-functioning road system. This is repeated

The question of rail has been raised for years in the Triangle.

Other cities, including Chapel Hill and Durham, have plans in the works already, but Wake County Commissioner Paul Coble said he has never really embraced it.

He says the experts back him up.

"I think the message to take away is that we're not ready either by plan, design or size," Coble said Tuesday.

Rail and rapid bus infrastructure is costly to build, and fewer federal dollars are available. Panel to Wake leaders: Slow down on mass transit plans Panel to Wake leaders: Slow down on mass transit plans

Still, many proponents of mass transit say Wake County and specifically Raleigh can't afford not to have it.

"If we don't come up with a plan, you might as well look at Atlanta because we'll have similar congestion as they have," Raleigh City Planning Director Mitch Silver said.

Wake County is currently home to approximately 960,000 residents, and that number is expected to reach 1 million within the next three years.

The panel recommended that Wake County approach local and regional transit gradually, first with enhanced bus service, then rail down the line.

Coble said that's what he's been saying for years.

"I think what we're seeing this afternoon is a lot of people who've made a lot of money pushing rail have suddenly been told it's not the way to go," Coble said.

County commissioners say they will take the expert analysis and start talking with local and regional partners to determine how and when to move forward with any kind of transit plan.


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  • chevycaprice Nov 19, 2013

    FYI the "panel of national experts" saying not to build rail is a two-thirds majority of anti-rail advocates. Sam R. Staley also an anti Smart-Growth advocate is from the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think-tank funded by the oil-magnate Koch brothers. And Steve Polzin is well-known for criticizing rail projects while promoting large highway projects, which must also be subsidized through tax dollars and further subsidized with the sprawl without giving users any mode choice. Driving is the only choice. This panel is a part of the discredited believers that rail projects fail when they actually turn out to be very successful. Just look at how successful Los Angeles, Charlotte, and Salt Lake City rail projects turned out. This rail system will not reduce congestion very much but will promote economic development along the corridor, reduce car trips, and provide better transit-oriented-neighborhoods that do not rely on entirely on auto-trips. Land value near train stations always incr

  • btneast Nov 13, 2013

    Raleigh isn't a major traffic hub. Only traffic going to Wilmington and the other beaches passes through Raleigh.

    .....not entirely true.....I-40 connects to I-95, so a lot of industrial traffic from the western part of the state takes it to get to 95. Nowhere near the traffic Atlanta has , but Raleigh does get a fair amount of pass thru traffic. Just about everyone west of Raleigh goes through on their way to the coast, whether it is to Nags Head or Wilmington.

  • ConservativeVoter Nov 13, 2013

    Silver attempts to compare Raleigh to Atlanta.

    The traffic is completely different.

    Atlanta is a major interstate crossroad in the Southeast.

    You have I-75, I-85, and I-20 intersecting in addition to the local traffic from Atlanta and it's suburbs.

    The biggest problem in Atlanta is that in the 1950's somebody thought it was a good idea for I-75 and I-85 to share the same section of highway.

    Also, you have the interstates that weren't built because Jimmy Carter and his liberal cronies canceled them when Carter was Governor of Georgia.

    GA-400 which ends in Buckhead was supposed to connect with I-675 where it intersects with I-285 in the Southeast.

    There was supposed to be two east-west interstates across Atlanta as well which weren't built.

    When you don't build to handle the growth you will have problems.

    Atlanta can thank Jimmy Carter for it's traffic problems.

    Raleigh isn't a major traffic hub. Only traffic going to Wilmington and the other beaches passes through Raleigh.

  • ConservativeVoter Nov 13, 2013

    "Guess all that money Atlanta spent on MARTA was a waste?

    Get on the Marta at the Atlanta airport and go north. There are a lot of scary looking people from the intercity on the Marta until after you pass the downtown area going north.

    Most of the people in the suburbs don't ride the Marta because they don't feel safe on it.

    MARTA just makes it easier for criminals to travel to the suburbs, commit their crime, and then travel home.

  • ConservativeVoter Nov 13, 2013

    Other than the route along New Bern avenue into the downtown, Raleigh buses are lightly utilized. The TTA buses to RTP are utilized even less.

    They need to start charging those who use the buses a realistic fare to support the ongoing maintenance of the buses and quit raising taxes of most of the people in the area who don't use the buses.

  • ConservativeVoter Nov 13, 2013

    Uh oh, Raleigh isn't going to build a light rail monument to Meeker who wanted his Choo Choo so badly.

  • westernwake1 Nov 13, 2013

    So let me get this straight.... the local politicans and rail promoters had to hire tranportation experts to come in and tell them the obvious... that the Triangle is not ready for a rail system. Until your bus system is more fully utilized it makes no sense to build rail.

  • btneast Nov 13, 2013

    The city does have a choice of approving development and deciding building zones! Did you know that a developer submits a site plan for the city to approve before they can build?

    Yes, of course, everyone knows that.....but planning is controlled by elected leaders....elected by the people. Planning is done within the confines of what the general population wants......its market driven. The city can regulate said development, but where it goes is where people want it in most way or the other.

  • 68_dodge_polara Nov 13, 2013

    Why bulldoze miles of new rail corridors through the city? We already have buses.

  • idontthinkso5 Nov 13, 2013

    Okay so you people rather pay millions on future road projects instead of light rail?? We are going to spend that money anyway!! How much are we “tax payers” going to pay for future road widening projects, new bridges, new highways and etc. If we dump more millions onto more road projects, how much of our money are we going to spend to maintaining the roads???? It’s a lot more to maintain roads than light rail!!! THINK PEOPLE THINK!!! Open up your narrow minds!! Think for the future, not just the present!!