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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We got your transit stops right here — and your poll

Posted by on Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 5:14 PM

Light rail, Houston-style
  • Light rail, Houston-style


The poll was taken for the Regional Transportation Alliance — judge accordingly, but the questions seem reasonably straightforward. Traffic congestion is NOT the number one concern in the Triangle. That said, three out of four favor a rail-transit system for commuting and/or a combination of rail and better-bus transit. More than half are even prepared to pay for it via a 1/2-cent sales tax for transit. (That last figure dropped from almost 57 percent to barely 51 percent when the ante was upped to 3/4-cent for better transit AND schools.)

‘‘Nearly 60% of voters in the western Triangle counties of Durham and Orange would be willing to support a half-cent sales tax to improve transit offerings,” said Paul Fallon of Fallon Research and Communications of Columbus, OH. “While the support is conceptual since the respondents were not reacting to a specific package of bus and rail investments, that is still strong support given the ongoing sluggishness of the economy and the presence of the existing temporary sales tax.”

(More from the RTA below the fold.)

***

Triangle Transit is holding public forums (workshops) beginning next week to explain its latest thinking and get public input on what a regional transit plan should look like and where it should go. The forums are part of a process required before the TTA can apply for federal funding under the New Starts grants category. The schedule for the forums is here.

I kept hearing that the new plan would have more station stops than previous plans. Yup. I count 16 in the Orange-Durham corridor, some of which would be potential stops for a Bus Rapid Transit system rather than light-rail stops. In the Wake light-rail corridor plan, 20 stops are listed.

A possible Durham-Wake commuter-rail scheme running from downtown Durham to a station at Greenfield Parkway, southeast of Garner, would use some of the same stations as the light-rail system, but not all of them.

* commuter-rail = less frequency, moves faster, fewer stations, service mainly at rush hours;

* light-rail = greater frequency, moves slower, stations every mile or so, service at all/most hours;

I was told that this list is subject to change right up to the first forum — and may well change later as a result of the forums. With those caveats, here t'is:


Potential Rail Stops: Triangle Regional Transit Plan

Orange-Durham corridor: (looking at BRT and LR)
Stations:
• UNC
• Mason Farm
• Hamilton
• Friday Center/Meadwomont/Woodmont
• Leigh Village Station
• Gateway
• Patterson
• MLK
• South Square A or B
• LaSalle
• Duke Medical
• 9th St
• Durham
• Buchanan
• Dillard
• Allston Ave

Wake LRT Corridor: 18 miles, 20 stations, 15 vehicles, 29-32 mph ave, 34-41 minutes travel time, 4350 park and ride spaces, 51 bus bays
Stations: (about 1 mile apart, all on the NCRR corridor)
• Cary Parkway
• NW Maynard/Cary
• Downtown Cary/Depot — shared w/commuter and Amtrak
• NE Maynard
• West Raleigh (just east of I 40, NC 54) — commuter rail and large park and ride
• Jones Franklin/Western
• State Fairgrounds
• Gorman/Hillsborough St./Meredith College
• NCSU/Dan Allen
• NCSU/Pullen Rd. - commuter rail
• West Morgan St.
• Downtown Raleigh — commuter rail too; 2 alternatives: follow Morgan St. to Harrington St or West St. (will operate as a streetcar for about 1/3 of mile, where cars can travel along with LR) OR go over Boylan St. Bridge (creating a Union Station w/ high speed rail) OR going towards South St/Amtrak station and then north up Salisbury
• Government
• Peace St. (paralleling Atlantic)
• Whittaker Mill
• Six Forks/Atlantic Ave.
• New Hope Church Rd (between Atlantic and Old Wake Forest Rd)
• Millbrook Rd.
• Spring Forest
• Then either to NE Regional Station (where 540 goes over rail corridor) OR to Triangle Town Center (big park and ride)

(Boylan Bridge — until agreement reached with railroad, have to show only option of a bridge OVER Boylan Bridge, but hope to go under it)

Durham-Wake Commuter Corridor: (looking at commuter rail; some overlap with LRT stations)

37 miles, 12 stations, 15 vehicles, 43 mph ave., 51 min travel time, 4400 Park and Ride, 40 bus bays
Stations: from Durham to Greenfield Parkway southeast of Garner

From the RTA:

Regional Transportation Alliance, March 2011 Transit Poll Results Released
High support for transit, including expanded rail and bus services, throughout all three counties
Nearly 60% of Durham, Orange voters support sales tax; Wake numbers down slightly but still above 50%


RDU AIRPORT, NC — The Regional Transportation Alliance business leadership group released the results of its most recent transit poll this afternoon. This is the third RTA poll since the approval of long-range transit plans by our region’s two metropolitan planning organizations for transportation in 2009. Area chambers of commerce provided significant funding for this cooperative poll on public transit.

‘‘Nearly 60% of voters in the western Triangle counties of Durham and Orange would be willing to support a half-cent sales tax to improve transit offerings,” said Paul Fallon of Fallon Research and Communications of Columbus, OH. “While the support is conceptual since the respondents were not reacting to a specific package of bus and rail investments, that is still strong support given the ongoing sluggishness of the economy and the presence of the existing temporary sales tax.”

“Although Wake County has dropped slightly since 2010, support for the sales tax remains above 50%,” Fallon noted. “If gas were to increase to $4/gallon, more than 20% of voters said that that would make them more likely to support the tax to improve transit options.”

Joe Milazzo II, PE, RTA Executive Director, stated that “While the support for the tax has gone down slightly in both Orange and Wake, the support for a sales tax remains above 50% in all counties, with overall support for transit as a benefit near 80% regionwide,” said Milazzo.

Travel to Research Triangle Park was the top destination for Wake voters, with travel between counties the second choice. Travel between counties was listed first by both Durham and Orange respondents.

If forced to choose between expanded bus or rail systems, Orange and Durham voters supported an expanded bus network while Wake voters focused on enhancing rail. Regardless of their preference, more than 75% of voters in all counties felt that they will benefit from enhanced public transit.

See the table below for a comparison of support for a sales tax for transit over time. For more information on this poll or past polls, visit letsgetmoving.org/poll. The RTA will continue its series of community feedback initiatives during the coming months as the region explores transit options.

Support for 1/2c sales tax for transit in Triangle: Results over time


Durham County
2011 59.7 For, 33.6 Against, 6.7 Unsure
2010 58 For, 41 Against, 2 Unsure
2009 52.2 For, 45.9 Against, 2.0 Unsure

Orange County
2011 59.2 For, 37.6 Against, 3.2 Unsure
2010 61 For, 35 Against, 4 Unsure
2009 56.6 For, 37.4 Against, 6.0 Unsure

Wake County
2011 51.0 For, 45.1 Against, 3.9 Unsure
2010 55 For, 41 Against, 4 Unsure
2009 50.5 For, 46.7 Against, 2.8 Unsure

The margin of error is +/- 3.26 percent on a regionwide (n=900) basis, and +/- 5.7% on a county-by-county (n=300) basis. Fallon Research and Communications supervised the poll.

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