Local News

Raleigh group proposes electric transit on elevated tracks

Posted March 29, 2012 5:22 p.m. EDT
Updated March 30, 2012 11:43 a.m. EDT

— About 67 million vehicles pass through a 2-mile radius around the North Hills development in Raleigh each year, causing traffic delays, parking problems and other headaches for drivers. A new public transit option could take a chunk of that congestion off the road.

The Midtown Raleigh Alliance says an urban transit system in the area would allow drivers to ditch their cars for a smoother ride in lightweight, four-passenger vehicles that run on tracks.

“They are electric, so they are silent on an elevated track – (a) driverless, computer-controlled track,” said Martha Grove Hipskind, executive director of the business group.

The vehicles, known as PRT or Personal Rapid Transit, would not run a schedule. Instead, passengers could get in and select a destination. The cars would travel up to 25 mph and offer non-stop, door-to-door service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“You get on at the hotel, and you're going across the street for lunch … It will go straight there,” Hipskind said.

The path of the track would loop around an area from North Hills at Six Forks Road to Duke Raleigh Hospital on Wake Forest Road. London's Heathrow Airport uses a similar system.

“We believe midtown is the ideal model test location,” Hipskind said. “You would be able to come to midtown and try transportation that only seemed like a dream.”

For now, it’s still a dream that has a long way to go before a shovel hits the ground. Midtown Raleigh Alliance leaders say they’re not sure how much the project would cost, and they are still trying to figure out how to get funding.

Kilar Meyers, who works in North Hills, said she thinks the new form of transit could save people time and money.

“Traffic can be congested, especially around lunch time, because everyone wants to get away from the office for a little bit,” she said. “About 10 to 15 minutes in traffic, find a parking spot … it can be time consuming.”