RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Leaders from across Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and everywhere in-between spent Thursday riding the Triangle’s current public transit options in an effort to improve the system for fast growth.
With more than 600,000 new people estimated to move to the Triangle over the next 20 years, it means tighter traffic and a greater demand for other options.
The tour was a part of the Regional Transportation Alliance’s Regional Transit Awareness Day to show elected officials and community leaders what currently exists, and what could happen in the Triangle.
“We’re developing urban centers now, Raleigh’s growing from a small city to a big city,” Raleigh mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said.
Wake County Chair Sig Hutchinson said a new rapid bus transit line will break ground early next year with the goal to grow communities around it.
“But in addition to just transportation it’s about land-use, it’s about how we grow our community to create all the things that we want closer together so we don’t have to be in our cars as much,” Hutchinson said.
Baldwin said pushing for a regional rail system is her number one priority.
“The only way to address congestion, to make it easier for people to get to their jobs, is through commuter rail. So, it has to be a number one priority,” Baldwin said.
The Greater Triangle Commuter Rail would connect from Durham through the Research Triangle and Raleigh, out to Johnston County.
While planning stages have begun, Brenda Howerton, Durham County Chair, said figuring out how much it’ll cost and where to get the money remains the biggest barriers.
“The cost just went up substantially and we are all trying to figure out how do we pay for it,” Howerton said.
Coley Dixon, who’s been riding the bus in Durham for more than a decade, said a rail can’t come soon enough.
“I really want to see that happen because, like, if that’s supposed to be a part of the Triangle Go or whatnot, that can be more money in their pocket, I’d be happy to tell them, sure take my money,” Dixon said.
The plan is to work with and add to existing rail lines and service could start as early as 2030.