Bus Rapid Transit in Raleigh


It seems that a few people on this forum have good experiences taking the bus and I am curious about your commutes. Are you commuting to a different city in the Triangle or commuting within Raleigh? Is it faster, or are there other reasons you choose to take the bus? Is there a bus stop near your office? […] I feel like the logistics never quite work for me.

I live in Chapel Hill and I’m a grad student at a joint program between UNC and NC State. I use the GoTriangle buses since I don’t have a car, and it’s much more convenient than carpooling. I’ve had to fight pretty hard when I sign up for classes to make the logistics work (waking up at 6 to get to Centennial for an 8am class was not fun), but the onboard wi-fi makes it a lot easier to work remotely or stare at social media as a break.

I think the commute is reasonable as a student if you can stay organized enough -though I will admit that going out downtown is tough since there aren’t a lot of ways to get home after 9pm. But if you work in RTP… …any time there’s a conference or department event at the NC Biotech Center or the Frontier, it’s basically a nightmare for me unless I can find people to drive there with…


and a protected cycleway!


I live in Cary near Bond Lake, and work on Airport Boulevard near I-40, I have a non-car commute. Usually I spend about 20 minutes on my bike (Mostly greenway) followed by 15 minutes on the bus, but I have several different options involving some combination of bus, bike, walking, and sometimes even jogging, depending on how I feel.

To make it work, and to make it worthwhile, takes a bit of a perspective change. You have to stop caring about getting to and from work as quickly as possible, and let the commute be something that you enjoy so you don’t mind it if it takes longer, or so that you can take it in stride if you miss a transfer and have to wait 30 minutes for the next bus.

I hate driving in traffic. You know that thing they call “Windshield perspective” where you lose touch with the humanity of the people around you and just feel frustrated by everything that keeps you from getting where you want to go as quickly as possible? I get that when I drive. I hate, hate, hate that feeling. Driving makes me profoundly unhappy.

On the other hand, I love to exercise, I love being outside, and I love feeling connected with the people and the area around me. I really almost think of my commute as an adventure, and I wake up every morning looking forward to it. This sort of suits my temperament very well, but I have to admit it probably isn’t for everyone.

My commute takes a good deal longer than it would if I just took a car, but since the extra time is spent biking or relaxing on the bus rather than gnashing my teeth in traffic, I view it as a net plus. I am a pretty experienced cyclist and I do feel relatively comfortable cycling in traffic, so I have that to fall back on if I miss the last bus or if it’s running really late. I am in decent shape and sometimes run the 8 miles to work for fun. So those things make it easier. I don’t mind.

When our second family car broke down and either needed some expensive repairs or to be replaced, we decided on “none of the above” so it winds up saving (a lot of) money, too. Plus I get all my exercise for the week out of my commute, so in a way it saves time, because I don’t have to go to the gym (which I never really cared for in the first place, anyway.)


The TBJ (subscription required) has an article regarding the RUSBus plans. GoRaleigh hired a consultant to do a market analysis and present options for the property they own west of The Dillon.



It’s actually GoTriangle’s.


Basically, GoTriangle will hold onto the property but may work with developer to build a large mix-use tower or simply sell the air rights above the ground floor as a blank slate for a developer to work with. The exact design and purpose is up in the air as it depends on the development firm that will design it. However, the cool thing is that since it’s owned by GoTriangle, they will be able to dictate some affordable housing options.

GoTriangle isn’t kidding around they’re releasing the RFQ this summer and hope to start development in 2 years.


Right now the H-Line(the rail route from Raleigh to Durham)is Double Tracked from Raleigh to Cary and Single Track from Cary to Durham EXCEPT for three mile passing sidings in RTP and Durham. For optimal commuter service they want to add a second track in the single track territory, like they recently completed between Greensboro and Charlotte. The H-Line just has a handful(6-10 a day)of freight traffic so its ideal for commuter rail. Most of the freight traffic(40 a day)stays on the Atlanta-Manassas main line that splits from the H-Line at the Greensboro Depot. When I lived in Raleigh(recently relocated to the Atlanta area, which has its own transit issues)I used to take the morning Piedmont to school at NCCU. Thirty minute ride, quick transfer across the street to the DATA bus, it was a preview of whats possible in the triangle. No need for electrified light rail adjacent to the NCRR right of way, electrification is way more expensive and it would be slower than the “real” train. If HQ2 is put downtown it wouldnt surprise me if we saw a quick start up service like two trips into Raleigh in the morning and out in the evening using leased Amtrak equipment, there was talk of a Selma-Raleigh train to help out during highway construction a couple of years ago.


Here is a recent study on Wake Forest-Raleigh Commuter rail.


Thank you General 1862
A really good read. I especially like this part:
“The primary function of a commuter rail service is not necessarily to provide a commuting method that is faster than driving, rather, the intent is to provide a commuting method that is more consistent than driving. Commuter trains are not affected by the increased travel times associated with peak hour travel on the roadway network With its proximity to Capital Boulevard, the CSXT ‘S’ Line offers the opportunity to take commuters off the roadway and onto a commuter rail service.”


Exactly the point I’ve been trying to make. Thank you.


Very interesting study on commuter rail from DTR to Wake Forest. Certainly if one of the big tech companies ends up in or near downtown, this would vault to a higher priority.

Interesting that they propose using locomotive/passenger car trains rather than DMU, which is what has been proposed for the Durham-Garner service in the Wake Transit Plan. It would seem to make more sense to use the same technology, especially in the scenario where the trains continue to Durham from DTR.


When I read that proposal (using locomotives and not really even mentioning DMUs at all), it seemed more like a quick-and-dirty cost assumption than anything else.

From the paper that @General1862 attached:

The intent of the study is to determine the possible scope and cost of infrastructure improvements that could be required to support a commuter rail service on the existing rail line between Wake Forest, NC and Raleigh, NC.

I got the impression that they were plugging in values from Orlando’s SunRail as a lazy way to get numbers -and they cared more about demonstrating that a Raleigh-Wake Forest commuter rail line could work logistically than painting a picture of what the details of that service could look like for us passengers.


I can see Raleigh have something like this light rail, Buses and Light Rail together will make life here in Raleigh more accessible for everyone. I’m not expecting for everyone to get out of their Cars but at least it can/will ease traffic congestion.


We could start with BRT buses that look like this. These are available as fully battery-electric. With dedicated right-of-way and the other key BRT elements, these would run almost exactly like light rail. This can be done in the current 10-year wake transit horizon.


Are buses like these available and made in the US?

If the Raleigh BRT is being made using federal funds, apparently, there’s a law saying GoRaleigh/GoTriangle would have to use American-made goods… and, if it’s anything like the Durham/Orange light rail or the Chapel Hill BRT, then this project would fall under that since half of their budgets depend on federal funding.

From the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)'s website:

FTA’s Buy America requirements prevent FTA from [giving transit agencies grant money] for a project unless “the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States.” 49 U.S.C. § 5323(j)(1). FTA’s Buy America requirements apply to third-party procurements by FTA grant recipients.
Under limited circumstances, FTA may waive Buy America if FTA finds that: (1) application of Buy America is inconsistent with the public interest; (2) the steel, iron, and goods produced in the U.S. are not produced in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or are not of a satisfactory quality; or (3) including domestic material will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25 percent for rolling stock.

More information in plain English available on this fact sheet.

(side note: I wonder if this law is the same reason basically all buses in the US look like they use the same three or four models…)


The company that makes these is VanHool which is a company from the Netherlands, however they have recently opened a office and manufacturing facility in the US precisely to enter this market based on these Federal Buy America provisions. https://www.vanhool.be/en/news/van-hool-builds-bus-factory-in-morristown-tennessee-us


The reason all buses in the US look similar and our technology and amenities lack those of other countries is less due to the Buy-America law (which has been law for a long time) and more due to public transportation regulation and liability. In most cases, our buses, light rail cars, and rail cars are built to with stand an accident with the least number of injuries and fatalities. The systems in Europe and other developed countries are built with an intent that these cars/buses should not be in accidents and therefore the technology (positive braking for example) has been in use for decades and has only improved with advances. Our ‘way’ is to build uncomfortable tanks that protect us when engaged in whatever inevitable case.

If there’s any wiggle room, it would be in buses which have less regulation than trains on this point and are, quite frankly, significantly cheaper to purchase and faster to deliver.


Meanwhile in Chicago…


This method of transportation in a tunnel/coffin,is a joke. Musk needs to focus on Tesla, a fan, but this is a pathetic.
Takes to much time and money to get right-of-way and utilities are buried everywhere.
I am not traveling in a tunnel for 2-3 hours or more with nothing to see like I am a rat in a sewer pipe. What a waste of money, build above ground light rail within cities and bullet trains for cross country travel.
OMG! What is wrong with this country, Europe and Asia are kicking our lazy butts.
Example: I-95, decades now and no progress. Busiest Interstate in county and it’s a death drive.
There is 15-20 yards down the center of North and South lanes, build a bullet train from Miami to NYC, stop and board stations only in major metro areas (gets many cars off roads).
What is this country waiting for, people will ride trains.


Yes it’s indeed hard to understand why there is no push for highspeed trains in the U.S. I like to refer to China as a comparison: Similar in size, majority of population concentrated on the East Coast, sure you have 1.4 billion people versus 325 Million but still. Distance Beijing - Hong Kong is approx. the same as NYC - Miami

China has already an impressive network of 300km/h trains and keeps building them out