My personal thinking is that we should not think of this as four BRT routes, but as two. Tying them together into East-West (New Bern-Western) and North-South (Capital-Wilmington) seems the obvious choice. Some of the planners at public meetings were saying that they’d looked into it and the origin/destination paring among existing riders are actually stronger for East-South and North-West, but I have a hard time thinking of how that might work out from a routing and operations perspective downtown.
It’s a quarter mile walk from Nash Square to either Union Station or GoRaleigh station. That’s a reasonable walk if that’s your destination, but it’s too much for a transfer. A circulator also doesn’t help, It takes 8 minutes to walk that distance (5 minutes walking plus 3 minutes total waiting at stoplights) so a circulator would have to be running like every 3 minutes for this to be any faster than just walking.
I think that if you treat the BRT system as a separate thing all to itself, requiring a circulator to transfer from city buses or commuter rail, then you are building transit lines rather than building an integrated transit system and that would be selling our fair city short.
I think that running both BRT lines past both stations can work, but only with dedicated bus facilities along nearly the entire route. If you build dedicated bus lanes and install a functional signal priority system, you could make any street work just as well for buses as Dawson and McDowell do right now for cars. This is where the rubber hits the road. We need leadership (Leo- you’re the perfect one for the job!) to make the tough decisions. We will have to give up on-street parking along all or most of the route and give the space over to the BRT. I mean, if we can’t even give up a few blocks of on-street parking (when there are thousands of spaces in public decks all around downtown!) then we have no business building transit in the first place, and we’d might as well just cancel the sales tax. Seriously.
If losing all the parking along both sides of a street is too much, then you could run the buses one way on one street and the other way on another. (For example: Eastbound on Martin and Westbound on Hargett.)
This is important. I sincerely hope our city has the guts to do this properly. We have to get it right, with as few compromises as possible.