Light Rail: What works for Raleigh


The gentleman from the Raleigh Fire Dept said “light rail” but he may not know the difference. That piece of property is about 500 feet away from the tracks so maybe they need more right of way for the HSR project…


He’s probably using the term interchangeably. Raleigh’s light rail plan was shelved awhile back. The second link I provided describes the situation.


If light rail is shelved, I wonder how long GoTriangle is going to hold on to the properties they acquired in preparation for light rail.

For instance, 324 W Lane St.


If a world that makes sense, light rail would have been between Raleigh, RDU, and Durham and the BRT would have been a phase I project between CH and Durham. The Triangle is a benefit and a hinderance due to regional pettiness.


Whether light rail, elevated tram, etc., I think that a light system is valid for the core of Raleigh. I can imagine some sort of system also going to North Hills/Crabtree, NC State/Meredith/Fairgrounds/Stadium, Eastward toward WakeMed, South Raleigh to beyond the Beltline, etc.; I just don’t think it’s relevant for connecting to far flung suburbia. In my mind, I’m thinking something that can extend as tentacles to the Beltline or just beyond it to key locations and amenities.


If Raleigh were to have a light rail system that went from south of downtown to link up to the Durham Orange system I’d be satisfied with that. It would generate a ton of development around that line and I think the rest of the city/county could be served via BRT or maybe commuter rail to Wake Forest or Garner.


I can see some of the BRT system evolving into a street car network at some point.


The entire Triangle area needs to get their heads out of their butts and get together on a regional & comprehensive transportation plan. BRT in Raleigh, Light Rail in Durham, etc are all just peace meal items that are not integrated.

The spine of the system needs to be commuter rail from Clayton, Raleigh, Cary, RTP, RDU, Durham & beyond (Hillborogh?). Also a north south line form WF, Raleigh, Holly Springs, Fuquay. Trains need to run every 15 minutes (or less) during peak hours. Feeding to bus systems that run just a frequently to take you form the train station to wherever you are going. Need park & ride lots near the stations, as well as lime bikes or whatever available to rent.

The whole systems needs to be regionally coordinated to mesh up timetables. Also, some sort of monthly commuter card needs to be available that will work on all systems so you are not having to buy 3 different tickets for one commute. This will require the different local governments to work together. (Maybe a pipe dream.). Also - emplyers need to be encouraged to subsidize the commuter cards. The whole thing needs to be advertised and pushed as a viable means to commute to work.

No one is going to get on a train if it only runs once an hour, and there is no way to get from the station to your destination. And you have to shell out a few bucks here and a few bucks there for a ticket at every stop.


I generally agree, except that I don’t think a light system is the answer for that distance. I think it’s a heavy rail commuter system.


The only reason it would make sense is if this were one long continuous system between Chapel Hill to Raleigh with stops at RDU and maybe a couple in the park. It would make for a very long line probably 40 plus miles but it would have been very forward thinking and would have transformed the region. The density isn’t there now but the line could have shaped future density. But the ship has sailed on that to mix metaphors so we’ll get half measures like commuter rail that will probably be set up( via underfunding/under scheduling etc) to under perform from the get go.


My head is spinning with deja vu. Didn’t we just have this exact same conversation, almost literally word for word, about 2 or 3 weeks ago? About dissatisfaction with the plan, with how Durham gets light rail and Raleigh gets BRT, the neverending trope about rail links to the airport, etc. Pretty soon somebody is going to chime in with something about PRT and then somebody else with the predictable business about TNCs, Elon Musk, and self driving cars making transit obsolete…

I say we should drop all the bitterness about not liking the plan, because that ship has sailed. Let’s start advocating to make the plan’s implementation as good as it can be. Decisions have been made. You can either not accept, be grumpy, and fight the plan, or you can accept that you didn’t get your way and move on and be a productive participant in the process as best as you can in spite of it. Door number 1 lets you retain your right to say “I told you so” if the transit plan fails, Door number 2 lets you have a voice, however small it may be, in the planning process. I know which door I am going to choose.

What is actually happening here, in the short term, is BRT focused on Raleigh. The reason that this is happening instead of light rail is that it frees up more money to run more buses more frequently elsewhere in the city and county.

I previously thought it would be useful to advocate for alternative BRT routes in downtown Raleigh that will be as easy to understand as possible while connecting to as many downtown destinations as possible, including both Union Station and Moore Square (recall the loop proposal). However, I basically ran into a brick wall there - GoRaleigh had preemptively decided that interlining the New Bern BRT to South Saunders, and the Capital Blvd BRT to Western Blvd, is more important than having a route for downtown that is both comprehensive and comprehensible. So we are left with a choice between one route that is comprehensive but too complicated, and another that is comprehensible but misses Union Station. Am I disappointed that my suggestions were not well received? Yes. But I am not going to fight it - I will let go of my concerns about downtown routing, and move on to the next useful thing. In this case I think it will be advocating for dedicated busways for as much of every corridor as possible.

In the medium term we are looking at commuter rail from West Durham to East Garner. Not light rail. Trains will not go to the airport. These decisions are set in stone. We should push to (1) make the commuter trains as frequent as possible, even during the middle of the day, (2) push for more stops (3) use modern equipment like european-style DMUs, or even look into electrification, instead of conventional diesel-powered, freight-derived locomotives, so that trains can accellerate fast enough to include more stops while maintaining fast end to end journey times.

It’s called being a grown up. You have to admit that your opinion isn’t the only one that counts. I have three young children and I am constantly teaching them how to stay engaged and be constructive even if they don’t get their way. It’s not easy for them and sometimes it isn’t easy for us either. But let’s move forward.


:grimacing: that’s quite the rant


I guess it is but I have been pretty disappointed about the ratio of sour grapes to productive conversation about the transit plan on here. I think all y’all need to think carefully about which door you want to go through. If the folks on this board can’t agree to embrace a transit plan even if it doesn’t have everything they want, and move forward constructively, then I am not optimistic about the future of transportation in this region.


i think with the Rail, it seems so far off that people don’t have a sense that anything is planned or going forward, and what is planned could totally be changed. Feels like we are still in the “what should we do?” stage. This leads to, “Well we should really do XYZ”. The BRT on New Bern is probably the most REAL thing to anyone because you can get real updates on it and see a ~2023 date for roll out.

If it is just us talking on message board, Rail sounds really easy. But, from what I have heard, for the people trying to make the Rail from Garner to Durham it is a big decade long load of hard work. I am also not 100% on who those people are… Can someone explain the players involved?


I think the only way one can “push” for frequency or more stops is to demonstrate support by ridership. If the service is successful from the beginning, increasing frequency shouldn’t be a problem. I think more stops will fill in as the system matures and travel patterns emerge. TOD’s will certainly follow. I don’t think the one hour headway minimum is meant to suggest that every single train will be one hour apart, it just means that there will be no more than one hour between trains, i.e., 6AM, 7AM, 7:30, 8AM, 8:30, 9AM, 10AM. Thirty minute headways are common in a lot of commuter systems and will likely be what we mostly see here. The point is we need to get a system in place now. I think the system will be successful from the beginning as it serves the commuting needs of not one, but two cities.


You conflate criticism with opposition.


Criticism is fine but only useful when it can have some positive impact. My thing is that some of the criticism I see is good and can have a positive impact, but other stuff like about rail links to the airport is nothing more than sour grapes at this point. It hurts us more than it helps. Nothing that anybody says or does will change the plan and put a station at the airport. The LAST thing we need is more people continuing to complain about how it doesn’t go to RDU. IMO anyone who wants to support the plan really, really has to give up the battle over running trains to the airport.


Denver opened a commuter rail line in a brand new corridor with 15 minute all-day service from day one. We could possibly do the same. Not saying it’s likely, most discussion has focused on an 8-2-8-2 schedule, but I think the topic of more frequent service does need to be raised. Dedicated tracks, or at least additional tracks, are not fully off the table yet.


I wouldn’t take people’s desire for the trains to go directly to the airport as criticism of the plan. It is something that is high on many people’s “wish list” because there are many airports that do have a train, which is a great convenience. Not everyone here is a rail fan like you and I and are and as a consequence aren’t familiar with the reasons why our system will not have a direct link. It doesn’t help that GoTriangle doesn’t have any real sort of website that explains the project in detail.


We aren’t quite Denver, yet. :smiley: And I don’t mean this as criticism of the plan or anyone. It’s public discourse on a public discussion forum. People are just throwing ideas around.