Re-imagining the R-Line


I just read Leo’s blog post about the end of events-driven downtown. ( I wonder if this also means the end of the R-Line?

It was implemented to help tourists explore downtown and easily get from places like Glenwood South to Moore Square in one evening. I wonder if its purpose is on its way out, what with Bird, bike shares, and development between Glenwood South and the city center making the walk much more pleasant.

I use the R-Line every now and then, but it unpredictable so I only use it when I’m in no rush. I’d rather pay the $1.25 to take the more reliable GoRaleigh bus.

How could we re-imagine the R-Line? I recently read a comment about expanding it to Dix Park - fantastic idea! (It takes at least 30 minutes and a bus transfer to get there from my house near Cameron Village). Would love to hear others.

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I also think that the R-Line currently assist those whom actually need a “no cost” way of getting around DTR. It appears that both you and I personally are okay with the $1.25 cost, but others may not have the “spare change”? Food for thought…:hugs:


I too think the R-Line will get phased out as the Wake Transit Plan for downtown unfolds. At the same time, it’s always nice to have options.

I wrote this in 2014 and I still think it’s relevant today.

Once Raleigh delivers real transit that people can rely on and choice riders start to emerge, then I think we won’t miss the R-Line.


Glad you brought this up. I agree that it is a good option for those who can’t afford the regular bus. But that is not what the R-Line was designed for, so maybe it needs to evolve to better accommodate its riders - e.g. expand the route. Or better yet, improve the transit system in downtown generally to address these needs strategically.


I always thought the R-Line should just be a free, limited range bus, that is routed to serve people who live and/or work downtown. A perk (or incentive to) of being down there. So some north-south only routes that intersect some ease/west only routes. Say, Cameron Village to Wake Med and Seaboard to Memorial. Maybe as many as three in each direction, but on tiny trolley size vehicles. Something like that.

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There’s another answer that doesn’t involve getting rid of the R-line, hidden in plain sight in the opening post.

I use the R-Line every now and then, but it unpredictable so I only use it when I’m in no rush. I’d rather pay the $1.25 to take the more reliable GoRaleigh bus.

We could also just have more reliable service? Defined and frequent schedules (not “approximately every 15 minutes”), exclusive bus lanes, more precise GPS for live tracking, starting a counterclockwise service, distinctly different bus stop signs that are more easily noticeable for tourists and visitors… I feel like the devil is in the details, but those minor improvements could make the R-line more useful.


Your article is pretty timeless at this point. Especially this excerpt:

"And why was it successful? In my opinion, the R-Line is run like most bus routes should be run. No timetables and a higher frequency of buses passing by.

It was also the first city bus route, to my knowledge, in Raleigh to have GPS tracking. Those with smartphones could see the bus location before heading out to the bus stop. With all the amenities and ease of use, it was implemented very well and has become successful."

I would love to see funds redirected to support GoRaleigh’s improvement to mimic the R-Line’s most positive traits.

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I use the R-Line and find it to be a useful service, so I hope they don’t get rid of it anytime soon. I think the fact that it’s free is also exceptionally convenient.

Disclaimer: My wife is the person who handles on-board signage, announcements, and predictive software for GoRaleigh, GoTriangle, etc.


Oh, the Rline :slight_smile: First, I’ve heard a lot of convos that this will get replaced in the next few years to make it more of a functional route. I think in the next 3-5 years, we’ll probably see this route modified or phased out. Also - personal aside - my toddler calls the R-line “his bus” and is basically OBSESSED with it, so he’s going to need a support group if they ever do squash it, hehe.


I ride the r-line often. I live in the southeast corner of downtown and if I want to get to the Seaboard or Glenwood South areas, I have to take two busses and connect through the Moore Square station. I don’t find that convenient. It’s much easier and more pleasant to walk to Memorial Auditorium and take the R-Line around the city.

I agree the fix should be to make the bus service in and around downtown more direct and reliable. But for now, I rely on the R-Line!


And I can take a couple of bags of groceries, purchases, or other items with me…easier on a bus! :grinning:


I’d like to see clockwise, and counter-clockwise routes of the current RLine, augmented by tentacle trolley routes that reach out to nearby destinations like Cameron Village, NC State (Hillsborough St.), Farmer’s Market/Caraleigh, New Bern/Longview, Five Points, South Park, and N. Person/Mordecai. These trolley routes can run less frequently and intersect the RLine route. An example might be like this.
Trolley route runs from CV to Hillsborough (and turns around at one of the roundabouts), heads to downtown where it intersects RLine twice at existing stops as it moves through it. It continues to Longview along New Bern where it turns around again and heads back to Cameron Village. Similarly, there can be a Mordecai to Caraleigh trolley loop, and a Five Points to South Park loop.
This would bring people into the core where they can switch to Rline or just walk. It also gives people who live on the outskirts of DT and option that will allow them to access different outskirt locations other than their own. It might not be ultra convenient in the way that a car or uber is, but it will give people an option.


I drew up a route plan more or less along these lines. I fully support these general concepts.

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I wouldn’t be shocked to see some kind of autonomous vehicle system in place next. I realize that probably isn’t something that would happen near-term, but for a static/predicable route like a downtown circulator, the tech is there, and I don’t think it’s out of the question.



Good point! Maybe this is THE place for that NC State project for the real world?

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That’s the sort of thing Raleigh could use to start to create some unique identity for itself. Given the general cautious approach to everything here, I won’t hold my breath though.


They need to send the 2nd R-Line bus in the opposite direction. This seems like common sense, especially since the current route is CCW making basically all left turns.

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For me, I think the CCW only route is ok but I’d like to see it move a little faster.

I think it should never go through the warehouse district and stay on Dawson all day/night. Also, drop the loop around Moore Square, it still serves the bus station just fine at Wilmington Street.

I’m not on Glenwood late night these days anymore but I remember it falling victim to the streets cruising cars that were jamming things up. Maybe some signal priority is in order.

Last, I don’t want to be insensitive to the bus drivers. It’s their job and they deserve a break but the 10 minute (or so) stop at the convention center is more than aggravating if I want to head that way. I’m not sure we can get around that one but maybe there’s a way.


There are 2 R-Line buses running at the same time and they both go in the same direction (counter clockwise). Wouldn’t it make more sense to have one go clockwise and the other go counter clockwise?

Also, I see one bus just a block or two behind the other on a regular basis.

And if you’re trying to go from southern downtown, like the Duke Energy Center to the northwest corner of the route it takes quite a while, I’d rather walk or take a scooter even.


The problem with having a clockwise and ccw route, I see, is that you have to choose between adding more buses (ie cost to the city) or reduce time. (1 bus each way versus 2 the same)

Plus, I’m not sure there’s an intuitive route for it because of downtown’s one way streets.