Raleigh wants Bus Rapid Transit to serve people who need it most

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Raleigh transportation planners want to make sure they don't miss the point of bringing Bus Rapid Transit to a growing city by squeezing out the people who rely on public transportation.

The city is hosting an open house at the Raleigh Convention Center on Thursday to discuss equitable development around transit.

While the BRT will use about 20 miles of dedicated bus lanes to provide faster, more reliable service, the city is aiming to promote fairness in who gets access to that service.

"We certainly don't want to put in infrastructure and a top quality transportation network and then it's not serving those individuals that may need it most," said David Eatman, Raleigh's Assistant Transportation Director.

BRT drivers will use dedicated lanes to bypass traffic along New Bern Ave., Capital Blvd., South Wilmington St., and Western Blvd.; priority traffic signals at intersections will also help the buses stay on schedule.

Raised platforms at BRT stops will make it easier for passengers with strollers, bicycles, or wheelchairs to board.

"Certainly BRT may not have the type of development that you would see with some larger rail projects per say, but certainly it can spur development," said Eatman. "We have to think about that and we have to be responsible."

Topics of discussion at the Equitable Development Around Transit event will include maintaining and enhancing housing affordability, ensuring accessibility to service from existing neighborhoods, minimizing displacement of current residents due to rising real estate values, increasing ridership, and providing economic development opportunities.

While the main funding source for the BRT system's roughly $350 million budget is the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in a 2016 referendum, the city is hoping to also use federal dollars to pay for it.

Eatman said the first BRT corridor along New Bern Ave. could be in operation by 2023.
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