Questions and Answers about the Orange Bus/Rail Investment Plan

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1 Why are transit improvements needed? Questions and Answers about the Orange Bus/Rail Investment Plan The Triangle Region is now home to 1.5 million people. The U.S. Census and the 2035 Joint Long Range Transportation plan estimate that the area s population will increase to 2.5 million by 2035, with Orange County growing by approximately 40,000 people. High levels of congestion are now common and are anticipated to worsen as we grow. We need a better multi-modal transportation system which offers transportation choices - including improved bus and rail transit service. What is in the plan? The plan would provide thousands of hours of new and expanded bus service for Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, Mebane and rural Orange County. It would also provide for 17-miles of light rail from UNC to East Durham. Who are the public transit providers in Orange County? There are three public transit providers that serve Orange County: Chapel Hill Transit (CHT) is a multijurisdictional agency formed by a partnership of the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill Transit is responsible for regular express route and demand response service in the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and University area. Chapel Hill Transit also provides regional express bus service to Hillsborough in cooperation with Triangle Transit. Orange Public Transportation (OPT) is a county agency that is responsible for providing transportation services to all residents of unincorporated Orange County, the Town of Hillsborough and a portion of the City of Mebane with destinations within and beyond Orange County s borders. OPT also provides demand response service in Orange County and circulator service and within Hillsborough in cooperation with the Town. Triangle Transit is a regional transit agency serving Wake, Durham and Orange counties. Triangle Transit is responsible for providing regional commuter express and demand response service connecting Wake, Durham and Orange counties. What additional bus service would be available in Orange County if the voters approve funding for the transit plan? Over the course of the plan, a new half-cent sales tax would deliver a total of 40,950 additional bus hours in Orange County. By comparison, Chapel Hill Transit currently provides 190,000 annual bus hours and Orange Public Transportation provides approximately 13,000 annual bus hours. Some of the goals are: Improve connectivity Increase frequency in peak hours Improve weekend and night services in off peak hours Enhance existing service

2 Maintain existing service Maintain a level of current funding no less than the amount on Add park and ride lots Add bus shelters in rural and urban areas of the County Add real-time passenger information signs and technology Add bus stop access improvements such as sidewalks Where will the rail system go? The 17-mile light rail project begins in Chapel Hill near the University of North Carolina campus and roughly follows the US 15/501 corridor north to Durham where it turns eastward, following the existing NCRR corridor to Alston Avenue near NC Central University. Please see the attached map for more information. What is the difference between Light Rail and Commuter Rail? Light rail (or LRT) uses lightweight rail cars operating on a fixed guideway and driven electrically from an overhead power line. They typically operate in short trains of up to four cars, and are well suited for closely-spaced stations. Commuter rail (or CRT) is rail service that often makes use of existing freight and passenger rail (Amtrak) tracks. Local CRT service is typically limited to peak travel periods, such as the morning and evening commute times or rush hours. The trains are usually powered by diesel engines and stations are farther apart than with LRT. What are some of the operating features of light rail? Electrically powered light rail vehicles travel at speeds up to 55 mph. The total travel time for the proposed rail alignment from end to end is about 35 minutes. Trains would operate on an 18-hour schedule each weekday at 10-minute frequencies during peak hours and 20-minute frequencies during off-peak hours. What is the projected rail ridership? Recent projections for the year 2035 indicate that ridership will exceed approximately 14,000 boardings per day. These projections are subject to change as the demand model is refined and as changes to development, population and employment are recognized. How will the transit system be connected? Bus and rail depend on each other. Successful rail programs have coordinated bus systems. Expanded bus service will be the first phase to be rolled out with improved scheduling, additional service and longer hours to ensure that the enhanced network will adequately connect to the rail lines once they are completed. How is the Amtrak station included in the Plan? The Orange County Bus and Rail Investment Plan will provide local funding to support the creation of an Amtrak passenger rail station in the Town of Hillsborough. A conceptual site and land use plan has been developed for a 20-acre tract of land owned by the Town on Orange Grove Street

3 What will all this cost? Here is the list of total spending for each technology identified in the Orange County Bus and Rail Investment Plan to All figures are in Year of Expenditure dollars (YOE) unless otherwise noted. Light Rail Capital: $418.3 million ($316.2 million in 2011 dollars) Light Rail Operations: $59.1 million Bus Capital: o MLK Bus Lanes $24.5 million o Miscellaneous Bus Capital Projects $6.7 million o Buses purchased $17.6 million Bus Operations: $106.8 million Hillsborough Intercity Rail : $8.9 million Amount of debt service payments made by Triangle Transit through 2035: $19.2 million Amount borrowed by Triangle Transit to execute the plan: $25 million (this number is larger than the line above because debt payments are over 30 year terms and continue past 2035) Tell me more about the costs of light rail? Cost estimates have been developed with conservative assumptions using a financial model certified by Jeff Parker and Associates of Philadelphia. The total capital cost for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project is approximately $1.378 billion (2011 dollars). Orange County s share is $316.2 million in 2011 dollars, which is the same as $418.3 million in Year-of-Expenditure (YOE) dollars. Orange County s share of the Operations and Maintenance Costs are $3.46 million/year (2011 dollars). For Orange County s share of the capital cost of the Light Rail Project, the total cost allocation is Orange County 25%, an assumed State participation of 25% and a Federal participation of 50%. What revenue sources will provide funding for the Bus and Rail Investment Plan? The revenues would include: A new one-half cent sales tax in Orange County individuals spending $10 on goods and services would pay an additional five cents ($ 0.05) Purchases of food, gasoline, medicine, health care and housing are excluded from the tax A new $7 vehicle registration fee levied by Orange County An increase of $3 to the existing $5 vehicle registration fee currently levied by Triangle Transit in Orange County Revenue from Triangle Transit s rental car tax State Government contributions Federal Government contribution Who developed the Transit Plan? Elected officials, staff and stakeholders from Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, Orange County, UNC, UNC Hospitals and Triangle Transit worked collaboratively to develop the plan. The plan was then approved by the Orange County Board of Commissioners, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO) and the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees. The

4 citizens of Orange County will vote in November 2012 on a one-half cent sales tax referendum that will help fund the plan if approved. How will you make sure that activity centers (towns, universities, main attractions) are included in future transit plans? We have received feedback from citizens, public and private sector employers, local governments and community and business groups including but not exclusive to Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Orange County, Hillsborough, UNC-Chapel Hill and other institutions that will be served by the rail network or shuttles. s will be designed to ensure maximum usage to these and other activity centers. Does anyone ride the bus today? In a February 2012 analysis of U.S. Census data by American City Business Journals/Triangle Business Journal, commuters in Durham and Orange counties use public transportation more frequently than any other metro area in the state, and at nearly twice the rate as No. 2 Charlotte. How did we get here? In 2007, Triangle Transit, the region s two metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), the Triangle J Council of Governments and Regional Transportation Alliance developed a strategy to meet future mobility needs of the region. A 29-member Special Transit Advisory Commission (STAC) generated a new region-wide transit vision and funding recommendations. The STAC s recommendations formed the basis of the Joint 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan which was adopted by the Capital Area MPO and the Orange-Chapel Hill-Carrboro MPO in These plans served as the foundation for the Alternatives Analysis to study fixed guideway transit in the Triangle. Why was a prior effort not successful? In 1995, Triangle Transit began to develop a planned regional rail system that would operate between Durham and north Raleigh, with future extensions west to Chapel Hill. Global demand increased the cost of construction materials and the federal government imposed stricter financial guidelines and performance criteria for transit projects nationwide. The earlier project was withdrawn in late 2006 when it became apparent that the local funding source could not support the increased cost and be adapted to changes in federal guidelines. What about those who don t use transit? Many Orange County residents will benefit from a regional transit network, even if they choose not to use it. The denser, mixed-use development typical of station areas will enhance the tax base. People living and working around stations will be able to walk, bicycle or drive shorter distances to access goods and services. The reduction in the rate of traffic growth in higher density areas will make driving easier and improve air and noise quality. The implementation of a regional transit system will also create new construction jobs and expanded permanent employment in transit operations and maintenance. What are the economic impacts and benefits of public transportation? Provides travel options Can reduce travel time and delays Enhances travel reliability Creates regional connectivity

5 Can create jobs and improve access to employment centers Saves money by lowering out-of-pocket expenses Increases the region s economic competitiveness Reduces the dependence on fossil fuels Reduces growth of future traffic congestion Conserves energy To learn more about the Orange Bus/Rail Investment Plan, visit ourtransitfuture.com

6 Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project Durham 15 CARRBORO 54 ek DURHAM 55 Leigh Village 15 Mason Farm Road 147 RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK EXPANDED STUDY AREA Miles NORTH Legend Durham-Orange Light Rail s Alternative Light Rail s 40 Carolina - Chapel Hill 54 Hamilton Road Friday Woodmont Center Durham Technical Community College MLK Jr Parkway Meadowmont Lane University of North UNC Hospitals 98 k t le Li t Cre 70 Dillard Street North Carolina Central University Patterson Place CHAPEL HILL 86 South Square e Cre New Hope Gateway ek 98 Alston Avenue / NCCU San d w 501 Cre Buchanan Boulevard 15 Ne C1 pe Ninth Street Duke University 40 Ho Duke Medical LaSalle Street y Cr e ek Spring 2012 ORANG E COUN TY DURHA M COUN TY C2 Durham-Orange Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) Routes To Be Studied Further Existing Railroad Corridors Expanded Study 54Area

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