Last week, Jasmine Gallup wrote about the Triangle’s plans for a commuter rail system and the challenges that lie ahead in bringing that vision to fruition. Many readers were upset to learn that the proposed rail line won’t extend past Durham to Chapel Hill, especially after the failed attempt to build a light rail line between the town and Durham.
They were also incredulous to see that the plans don’t include a stop at RDU Airport. Readers had other thoughts, too.
An email from reader Iain Burnett:
This article kept mentioning cost-cost-cost, but who ultimately pays? If the train system expects to pay off its loans with fares, prepare for a downward cycle of reduced ridership and increasing fares. A county tax can work because of all it will do to benefit road congestion, but good luck convincing the people who don’t commute on the worst roads and who would never benefit from a train ride to pay. Perhaps a commercial tax on all the businesses bringing in all of the people in all of their single passenger cars? This detail seems at least as important as where the tracks and stations go, how often service is, and how the region plans to handle final-mile transport and passenger car parking.
And one from reader Kenneth Morehead, who confuses commuter rail with light rail but makes some points all the same:
The “Stuck in Traffic” article on “light” rail was informative and frustrating. Light rail is a K-line model train! We can do so much better than “light” rail. How about something along the lines of skytran? skytran.com The exponential cost savings will mean the whole population in the Triangle can be served, not just those along the rail line. We can have lines running all over the Triangle, up Guess Road, out Erwin Road, all over Raleigh, to Chapel Hill and Carrboro. This is a solution that could invigorate the local economy (how many times do we forgo a trip into town to eat because of the parking hassle)? No need for school buses or stressful carpooling if there’s a change in school schedules or after school activities. Can’t drive due to vision problems or struggling to get around w/o a car? Duke opts out because of the noise and vibration? Skytran solves all this quickly and we’re off the petroleum standard. Please—let’s have REAL public transportation for everyone that’s fast, cheap, fun, cool clean and safe!
From our Instagram page:
“Well welcome to the 21st century RTP,” wrote commenter @ideacurator. “Those who are opposed to PUBLIC Transportation need to seriously reevaluate reality. The car is becoming a obsolete burden—high cost gas, high cost to own, the impact on the environment. Yes, SOME people are working remotely but those large corporate campus are calling for ‘hybrid working’. RTP can not call itself progressive or a city without a public train to take you to the airport. Besides there are more money wasted on building more highways, scooters, and autonomous vehicles than a good investment in public transportation. I would say the vision is too small. There should be high speed trains from NYC to Florida straight to down I-95. This would connect the rural to the cities and east coast to south.”
“This would be useful but bypassing Fuquay/Holly Springs is a big oversight,” wrote
Commenter @doubl_a_ron is pessimistic:
“People won’t use it as intended. No one is leaving their Tesla, Range Rover, or Audi at home to ride public. Status is more important here.”
As is commenter @brendan1963:
“This will never happen. RTP has the ‘last mile’ problem with getting passengers from an RTP station to the large company campuses. Add in the new increase of remote working.”
Commenter @ericboggs has a salient question:
“Is this post from 2014?”
All jokes aside, we agree that the plan could use some improvement. But building a commuter rail line is undoubtedly an important investment in the region’s future.