Since its inception, the Regional Transportation Alliance has focused on delivering business leadership to get our region moving faster.
Recently, RTA held its 2020 Transportation Breakfast. This year’s event went virtual due to the pandemic. Even though the business community was not able to gather in person, it didn’t slow the goal of getting our region moving faster.
“RTA is funding two ongoing studies with the goal of enhancing transit,” said Joe Milazzo II, RTA executive director.
The regional business community wants to thank all of the panelists for speaking, as well as the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina for their partnership as the presenting sponsor of the RTA Transportation Breakfast. We also want to thank all of RTA’s members for their continued support and engagement.
You can download the full event presentation via letsgetmoving.org/breakfast.
“The first study, funded by the regional business community, in concert with great partners NCDOT and GoTriangle, is to create a Freeway And Street-based Transit network, or FAST network,” Milazzo noted.
This project would link our region, complement upcoming bus rapid transit investments, and connect with RDU Airport, as well as future commuter rail.
At the Transportation Breakfast, we heard from representatives of VHB, the lead consultant for the FAST Study.
“The purpose of this study is to accelerate the movement of transit in this region,” said Taruna Tayal, VHB project manager. “This study will capitalize on the great work that’s already been done.”
The FAST Study would include low-cost improvements on freeways, including transit bypasses of future on-ramp signals and expansion of the region’s bus on shoulder system (BOSS).
“On the street level, the main tools that we have include traffic-signal priority that extends the green time to allow buses to avoid stopping at a signal,” said Don Bryson, VHB principal-in-charge. “There also are queue jump lanes that allow a bus to get around a stack of vehicles waiting at a red light, or RED transit lanes that provide priority to buses.”
The concept includes illustrative corridors serving Raleigh, Cary, Garner, RDU Airport, RTP, Durham, Chapel Hill, and other communities.
There is a public comment period on the FAST Study until Aug. 31. Please submit your comments to FAST@letsgetmoving.org.
Zero Fare pilot
The second study is to advance the next zero fare pilot for transit in our region.
RTA commissioned HDR to perform that study and several HDR representatives also spoke at the Transportation Breakfast.
“Zero fare reduces travel costs for users,” said Jorge Luna, HDR senior transit planner and project manager. “It also enhances equity, increases ridership, and improves accessibility and economic competitiveness.”
“Ridership goes up 20-30%,” said Patrick McDonough, HDR senior transit planner. “There are higher travel speeds because people aren’t fumbling through money when they get on the bus to pay for their ride.”
He said that some areas across the country are covering the lost fare revenue with sales tax revenue.
Both acknowledged there are challenges, including the pandemic, which limits ridership on most buses to 10-16 people.
Options to expand the study include zero fare weekends for GoRaleigh, GoDurham, and GoTriangle, as well as either zero fare weekends or seven-day zero fares for GoCary.
Milazzo said RTA believes a pilot along the lines of consultant recommendations has promise, but said transit partners are not ready yet for it given constraints related to the pandemic and funding concerns.
RTA will launch a follow-up study.
“We’ll continue to elevate the conversation regionally,” said Milazzo.
There also is a comment period for this study through the end of August.
Anyone with comments on the zero fare pilot initiative should email firstname.lastname@example.org.