Transit Plan Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is public transit?

Public transit or public transportation moves people to and from key locations throughout a community, typically on fixed schedules and routes for a fee. Forms of transit include buses, passenger trains, light-rail, trolleys, streetcars, and subways.

What will the Transit Plan do?

The Transit Plan determines how Durham will spend over $650 million of public transportation funding over the next twenty years. The Transit Plan update will reexamine the 2017 Durham Transit Plan, identify local bus improvements, identify potential high-capacity transit options such as bus rapid transit or commuter rail, and help prioritize transit projects for funding.

The project team will use feedback from Durham residents to create community goals and objectives. The team will then use these goals and objectives to create several transit scenarios, which are sets of potential transit projects and locations. The project team will share these scenarios with the community for additional feedback.

The project team will use feedback gathered through surveys, socially distanced in-person events, and Engagement Ambassador outreach to create a preferred transit scenario that shows specific projects and improvements. Three governing bodies, the Durham County Board of Commissioners, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO) Board, and the GoTriangle Board of Trustees, will vote to approve the final plan.

Transit Plan Background

Why do we need a new transit plan?

The proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail project was discontinued in 2019. The updated Transit Plan will use funds that would have been spent on the light-rail project and will reflect current community priorities.

Why was the light rail project discontinued?

The project faced a number of challenges, including decreases in state funding by the North Carolina State Legislature and the inability to reach final agreements with Duke University and the state-owned North Carolina Railroad.

Following the vote of the GoTriangle Board of Trustees in March 2019, the Orange County Board of Commissioners and the Durham County Board of Commissioners voted to discontinue the Durham-Orange Light Rail Project in April 2019, effectively ending the project.

Where does transit funding come from for the updated 2021 plan?

There are four dedicated revenue streams (Tax District Revenues) used to fund the local share of projects and services for the Transit Plan:

  • Half‐Cent Sales and Use Tax
  • 5% Vehicle Rental Tax
  • Three‐Dollar Vehicle Registration Fee for Expansion Services
  • Seven‐Dollar County Vehicle Registration Fee, half of which can be used for Increased Cost of Existing Services

Durham County receives approximately $33 million per year for public transportation improvements. This means the plan will direct over $650 million over the next twenty years for public transportation in Durham

When will the plan be completed?

The Durham Transit Plan is scheduled to be adopted by the Durham County Board of Commissioners, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro (DCHC-MPO) Metropolitan Planning Organization Board (DCHC-MPO), and the GoTriangle Board of Trustees in fall 2021.

Transit Plan Development

What organizations are directly involved in making the plan?

The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, which specializes in regional transportation planning, is managing the Durham Transit Plan update. Other organizations involved in the plan include:

Kimley Horn and Associates is providing consultant services along with Nelson Nygaard, Aidil Ortiz, and Pritchett Steinbeck Group.

Who will approve the transit plan?

The Durham County Board of Commissioners, Durham‐Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization Board, and GoTriangle Board of Trustees will adopt the final plan.

What role does the MPO play in transit planning?

A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is a federally required organization that carries out regional transportation planning.

The Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC-MPO) is the organization responsible for transportation planning for the western part of the Triangle, which includes all of Durham County and parts of Orange and Chatham counties.

The DCHC MPO is responsible for developing and adopting long- and mid-range transportation plans and programs such as the 2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan and Transportation Improvement Program, which includes highway, public transportation, bicycle, pedestrian, and other transportation projects in the region.

Participation

How are community members going to be involved?

The project team would like the Transit Plan to reflect community priorities. The project team, guided by the City of Durham’s Equitable Community Engagement Blueprint, will engage Durham residents through socially–distanced in-person outreach events and online platforms. The goal of the engagement process is to deliver a transparent and accessible experience to those who live, work, and play in Durham. The engagement process is designed to:

  • Raise awareness about the Durham Transit Plan updates;
  • Engage communities that have been historically excluded from community planning;
  • Ensure feedback received during engagement is representative of Durham’s population;
  • Communicate with residents about how we intend to use their input;
  • Identify transit improvements and investments that can contribute to the development of the Comprehensive Planning effort in Durham;
  • Encourage collaboration among all local government staff to make sure the Transit Plan supports Durham’s Strategic Plan vision and goals.

To learn more about how community members will be involved in creating the plan and our Public Engagement Plan, visit the Process page.

How can I get involved?

View the Transit Plan homepage and sign up for updates on the plan’s progress and learn about upcoming engagement opportunities.