AMA: GoTriangle Commuter Rail Project - Sept 23 1-3pm

Representatives from GoTriangle’s commuter rail planning project are coming to the DTRaleigh Community on Sept. 23, 2021 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM EDT!

Ask them anything about the commuter rail study that may help bring rail transit to the Triangle! Please post your questions on this thread, and @GoTriangle will answer them at the above time.

What’s an AMA? - Project Website - GoTriangle Website

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@dtraleigh
Is this one locked :lock: for reply’s?

No. Just looking for questions here. No chit chat yet.

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@orulz definitely has a good question or two

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  1. Is there anything to share about planning bus routes (new or modified) around future stations?
  2. Are there any indicators GoTriangle is looking for in order to seriously consider evening and weekend service?
  3. Is GoTriangle considering some kind of rail pass that can also be used on other triangle-area bus systems? (if not, could you? :slight_smile:)
  4. The site mentions the project having an economic impact. Can you expand on what that means exactly?
  5. Has there been a lot of thought behind making it easy for bike users to also use the train?
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Alright, so I have a few.

  1. With the pandemic-induced global shift away from working traditional office hours (and, as a result, the decline in what we generally think of as “rush hour”), is this project reconsidering their focus on commuters/peak service and instead shifting toward a true regional rail model that will benefit all users?

  2. The City of Raleigh has been working hard on their Equitable Development Around Transit project for the planned BRT corridors. Is GoTriangle similarly planning to work with local municipalities to develop TOD and walkable neighborhoods around planned stations, once they are finalized?

  3. The Triangle has a long history of rail projects that never came to fruition. What steps are being taken this time around to ensure that this project actually moves into the construction phase? Additionally, is GoTriangle working with other cities or consultants that have real-world experience in implementing these types of rail systems?

  4. American commuter/regional rail systems often tend to utilize locomotive-hauled consists, which tend to accelerate and decelerate much more slowly then their multiple-unit counterparts. Are DMUs being considered for rolling stock?

I think that’s all I have for now. Apologies for the wordiness. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!

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  1. What are the major roadblocks to getting Commuter Rail implemented? (Funding? Political support? Community support? Potential ridership?)

  2. Does an announcement like Apple opening an RTP campus make CR easier or harder? I could see the potential increases in ridership being helpful, but maybe Apple employee aren’t expected to be riders, or maybe it just makes necessary ROW more expensive?

  3. Is there a vision (or visions) for how CR fits into the long-term of the Triangle’s transportation mix as the region continues to grow? What does the future of the service look like 10 years after completion? 20 years? 50?

  4. How do other CR implementations inform the Triangle’s? What key things should we be trying to emulate, and which are we trying to avoid?

Thanks for working hard to bring CR to the Triangle!

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@atl_transplant and @Street_Grid

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  1. Will the initial Garner to Durham line be used as a baseline to determine if future lines would be worthwhile?

  2. Is there any possibility that “new tracks” would be explored in the future. For example, Wake Forest (or even Triangle Town Center) to RTP is a huge commute pattern. Is there any thinking that a new rail line for that movement would be feasible / explored. Also off hand thinking Durham - Chapel Hill, RTP - Chapel Hill

  3. Even if not a permanent late night / weekend route is implemented has a “surge route” been evaluated. For example could trains run during Bulls, NC State etc games?

  4. Any possibility of less frequent commuter rail to outlying further out but still commutable cities. For instance, Rocky Mount, Henderson, Fayetteville. For instance if there are 10 trains per day that go to Garner, 2 per day continue to Fayetteville or other outlying city.

  5. Given that the Garner - Durham line is the only line at this stage right now, is it estimated that there will be any positive impacts on the I-40 travel time? I’d assume although minimal benefits may be seen, having the option of rail for those nearby is still well worth it!

  6. How will the implementation of future lines be determined?

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I bet they don’t get questions like this from their average public input methods.
:nerd_face: :sunglasses:

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  1. How is the GTCR project being managed differently from GoTriangle’s past rail projects? It seems like existing rail companies are more cooperative than a certain rail attempt in the past, but it’s clear that there are more stakeholders at play.

  2. The majority of proposed stations and track mileage in the GTCR proposal is in Wake County and Wake Co. has 3x the annual transit tax revenue as Durham Co. Still, it’s all but assumed that Durham Co. will have to pay a significant amount into this project. (See this discussion in the commuter rail thread for additional context.) Relatively, will Durham Co.'s transit budget be more burdened by this project than Wake Co.?

  3. Rail companies around the world use the land under/over/around train tracks and stations that they own, and use it to offset train operation costs. Since land needs to be bought to build stations and other facilities, anyways, does GoTriangle have any plans or ideas to perform land value capturing too? Put another way, have GTCR planners considered taking advantage of stations’ real estate to help pay for this project?

  4. On a similar note, is GoTriangle looking into alternative revenue sources like sponsorships and bus stop advertisements?

  5. What are the limitations to this study? For example, @orulz wondered here if Morrisville’s Park West Village development could support a train station. I’m wondering if this study’s methodology may obscure that possibility by, for example, using ridership models based on 2010 census data (when Morrisville has clearly grown since then).

  6. Can you talk more about how accessibility will be baked into GTCR’s design? I don’t mean this just in the ADA sense, but also for rider experience at large (e.g. easy, intuitive bus transfers; navigation and wayfinding; integration with other services like BRT and FAST buses).

And, since AMAs stand for “Ask Me Anything”, Reddit tradition dictates we have to have at least one fun question here, as well.

  1. Tell us your favorite transit travel story! This doesn’t have to be in the Triangle, as long as you used public transport to get there.

That’s exactly why @dtraleigh and I set this up! :smiley: I’m glad we’re getting questions now, finally :sweat_smile:

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What are the plans to integrate commuter rail service with other regional transit. GoRalieigh & GoDurham, etc? Any schedule and fare coordination? Will there be a regional transit pass and ticket options that cover the region across agencies?

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Is the entire commuter rail corridor going to be double tracked?

What is the average speed slated to be on the corridor ?

Is a phased rollout being considered, or is it currently preferred to make all necessary improvements to stations, tracks, and equipment prior to ribbon cutting?

What can we as a community do to help?

Apologies if these were previously asked.

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This is just hypothetical but would it be feasible to possibly put a 2 platform station/express tracks along the tracks between Talley and the Brickyard at NC State’s campus? I feel like that track disconnects the two areas and a new transit facility could connect them. Again, this is hypothetical and has probably never been considered but I just wanted to throw it out there.

Edit: something similar to Ruggles station in Boston and preserving the Tunnel of Free Speech

Curious about the NC State station location - is there only going to be 1 or will there be 2 (one west and one east). Has connectivity between the future BRT/Wolfline/Pullen Park Bridge been considered here.

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I was thinking more towards Talley and Reynolds for the station since that seems to be where it was the busiest when I drove through a couple weeks ago. Just a simple elevated 2 platform or island station with a large path of some sort through the middle to allow for connectivity.

Reminder. We will have the GoRaleigh team on the site at 1pm. Hope you will follow the conversation during our first ever AMA. :slight_smile:

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Two more questions:

  1. The MIS for this project estimated the construction cost to be around $1.6B-$2.1B, extrapolated to the year of construction for inflation. If most of the rail is to be shared with NCRR, why is the estimated cost so high? I understand that one of the aims of the current study is to get better cost estimates, but do you have any insight on how (in)accurate that estimate was?

  2. Earlier this year, the Eno Center for Transportation recently released a blockbuster paper and database on transit project costs, and it talks about how it’s harder to build rail systems in the States versus the rest of the world (and what transit agencies and governments could do about it). What are your thoughts on that paper’s results and recommendations?

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One more from me (I don’t think I’ve seen this one yet):

Will GoTriangle be considering high-level platforms at all stations to reduce boarding/dwell time? I know there are clearance requirements for track that’s shared with freight, but Brightline in Florida has developed a workaround using bridge plates. Another (probably more expensive) option would, of course, be to have the platforms on a siding. Thanks again!

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