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Traveling To RDU International Could Be As Easy As Taking The Bus

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RDU INTERNATIONAL — Getting to and fromRDU Internationalcan be a headache, thanks to all the construction and lack of parking. In a few years, people may be able to leave their car behind, and hop on a rail system instead.

The regional rail system is still a few years down the road, but officials say now is the time to study how it should connect to RDU.

Bruce Hicks says a regional rail system would cut down his commute between Atlanta and RTP.

"Being from Atlanta, and havingMARTA, it has really decreased some of the traffic," Hicks said. "Atlanta is a big city, and Raleigh is growing like a big city so you have got to do something to alleviate the traffic," Hicks said.

The Airport Authority and the Transit Authority announced a joint study Wednesday to look at the best way to connect RDU to the rail system.

Shuttle buses will run between the airport, Morrisville and RTP during phase one.

Jim Ritchey, a member of the Triangle Transit Authority, says there are plans for a fixed link to follow.

"We believe we need to have a solid fixed guideway connection that goes to the terminals, and it is a complex engineering problem to get it all the way to the terminals, and make it work the right way for the public," Ritchey said.

Passenger traffic at RDU is up 23 percent from last year, thanks to new low-fare carriers and more competitive fares.

Airport officials hope the rail system will help relieve the traffic tie-ups created by the increase in travel.

"We are constrained more by our ability to move people and cars than we are by our ability to move planes on and off this airport," Robert Winston, airport authority chairman, said.

"To give the best customer service, we have to find ways to get people on and off this airport."

The Airport Authority and Transit Authority has not set a deadline for when they will wrap up the airport study. Phase one of the rail system will connect Raleigh, Cary, Durham, and RTP. It will not be in place until 2005.

In the meantime, the new parking garage should be done in January with 2,700 new parking spaces.

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Stephanie Hawco, Reporter
Jim Young, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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