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RTP Commuters Explore Transportation Alternatives

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — More Research Triangle Park workers are using car pools, mass transit and alternative transportation, but traffic engineers say there is a long way to go before the Triangle's traffic troubles turn around.

RTP's Smart Commute Initiative is one attempt to make a difference.

Jamming In The Park is a celebration of alternative commuting by RTP workers. A number of other ways of getting to work are displayed and discussed.

For most commuters, though, traffic jams on I-40 are regular occurrences, and they are notoriously difficult.

Still, they are making progress in RTP.

"We are at about 25 percent alternative commuting, and that includes car poolers, van poolers, people that are riding the bus, biking to work, telecommuting, and also those that commute to work on the off-peak hours," says Smart Commute Chairwoman Susan Clarke.

A recent survey indicates that only a handful of RTP employees ride a bicycle to work. The bicycle commuters say more people should join them.

"Most people, when they can't find a bike route, they're thinking like motorists," bicycle commuter Bob Welsh says. "You have to start thinking like bicyclists and choose back roads, trails (and so on), and just make it safe yourself."

Many people think buses are the way to clear congestion. The Triangle Transit Authority has a plan to link all four of the Triangle's bus systems.

"That's actually one of the things the transit managers are all working together to do," Jim Ritchey, of the Triangle Transit Authority, says. "We are implementing a regional call center where by one phone number, people will be able to call in to get transit information."

They are making progress, but it is coming in small steps. Even after two Jamming In The Park Events, on I-40 in RTP, nine out of 10 cars carry only one person.

More people are moving toward "smart" commuting. But the impact could be many years, and many vehicle trips away.


Mark Roberts, Reporter

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