Local News

Raleigh Puts Study in Gear for Expanded Downtown Trolley Systen

Posted March 15, 2007 11:38 p.m. EDT

The Raleigh Transit Authority on Thursday approved plans to expand the city’s trackless-trolley system, a move that some say will help ease congestion in downtown Raleigh.

Raleigh’s current system runs three days a week at night and focuses on a short loop between the Progress Performing Arts Center and City Market Place. The new plan would create a link between the new convention center and the rest of the developing downtown district.

The pitch for more service came from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

"These types of systems are really tied to the economic base of your city. We really think the timing is right," the Alliance’s Kristopher Larson said.

In the Alliance’s vision, expanded service would tie in with the opening of the new convention center, perhaps with daily service and stops along Fayetteville Street, in the warehouse district and in Glenwood South.

"The momentum is coming. The development is on its way. We're just creating a way to tie it all together," Larson said.

The booster group is betting the creation of more than 80 new bars and restaurants, several new hotels and thousands of homes will help this system become more effective than one that failed in the 1990’s.

"It's probably time to look at this. It's probably time to do it,” authority Chair Jeffrey Mann said. “We'll have to send it to the route committee and see what their recommendations are."

That committee will determine what the best routes could be and how much expanded service would cost. The possibility of needing to add more of the hyrbrid-fuel vehicles would be factored into a yet-to-be-made decision on whether the system could operate for free, like the current service, or would have to charge a fare.

The plan does not have a target date yet, but supporters want it to be ready by the time the convention center opens. That's set to happen in 2008.