Member Briefing: June 28, 2019

Here is a brief weekly update from the RTA business coalition – the voice of the regional business community on transportation.

Virginia tour reaffirms urgency — and a path forward — for transit
In yesterday’s Thursday Thoughts at 3 post, co-signed by the CEOs of our founding chambers of commerce in the western Triangle, we speak to what we learned and implications for the region from last week’s trip to central and northern Virginia. Here are several key takeaways:

  • There are a diversity of bus rapid transit options that can be both cost-effective and context sensitive. The cost of the Richmond and Northern Virginia BRT systems were around $8 – $10 million per mile; the simplified system opening soon in Montgomery County, Maryland is $3 million per mile. The stations were attractive, with the Richmond Pulse even having bus arrival countdown lights at each station. 
  • High frequency throughout the day is important. BRT service came every 10 to 12 minutes in both Richmond and Northern Virginia during mid-day, while the upcoming system in Montgomery County will have 15 minute mid-day frequency. Rush hour frequencies were as good or better.
  • Partnerships are vital. Virginia Commonwealth University is literally paying their area transit agency to buy down the mid-day headway from every 15 minutes to every 10 minutes in Richmond – and the entire community benefits.

The post also highlighted several implications and actions for the regional business community and the region, including the following:

  • We support creating a regional bus rapid transit system that will link the Chapel Hill north-south BRT corridor with the four BRT lines in Wake County and complement our upcoming commuter rail service.
  • We call for the advancement of additional basic BRT corridors – starter lines, if you will – to accelerate high-frequency regional routes that will enable us to realize network benefits for our entire region. The whole will be greater than the sum of the parts.
  • We recognize that who owns the transit infrastructure and who runs the transit service can be different. Each municipality could build or reserve dedicated transit infrastructure, while the decision of who operates enhanced transit services along those dedicated lanes or transitways could come later.

The time to act is now, and perfection is the enemy of progress. Let’s get some pilot solutions in place. The regional business community will support a study of options for corridors like 54 and 15-501, but these and other reviews will need to be focused, and fast. 

The goal for our visit was to inspire vision and action for accelerating enhanced transit in the western Triangle and linkages across our region. That has happened; now let’s get moving on transit. Joe

Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director

PS – Thank you to our RTA Leadership Team and 2019 tour sponsors including Research Triangle Foundation of NC (presenting), Duke University (parking), HH Architecture, MetLife, and PhRMA.

The Regional Transportation Alliance represents more than 100 member companies and 27 member chambers of commerce across 12 counties in central and eastern NC. Since 2002, the RTA business coalition has worked in concert with elected and transportation partners to advance mobility options for our current and future prosperity.

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