Wake Forest Public Transit Plan - October 2023


Adopted October 3, 2023

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Board of Commissioners Vivian Jones Mayor

Keith Shackleford Commissioner

Jim Deyer Commissioner Chad Sary Commissioner Planning Board Karin Kuropas Chair Michael Hickey Vice Chair Michael Almquist Board Member

Nick Sliwinski Commissioner Adam Wright Commissioner

Sheila Bishop Board Member

Christopher Joyner Board Member (through May 2023)

Michael Siderio Board Member

Thomas Ballman Board Member (through December 2022)

Town of Wake Forest Staff Courtney Tanner Planning Director

Joe Medlin Street Maintenance Manager Brad West Long Range Planning Manager

Emma Linn Planner II – Long Range Planning

Tim Bailey Public Works Director

Wake Forest Communications Team

Stakeholders GoRaleigh GoTriangle

Wake County

Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO)

Project Consultants Toole Design Group Public Participation Partners (P3)

Thank You! We would also like to thank the many people in Wake Forest that set aside time to attend open houses and respond to surveys to provide their valuable perspectives on transit services throughout the development of this Public Transit Plan.

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CONTENTS Executive Summary

4 5 5 6

Purpose and Need for Expanded Transit in Wake Forest

Previous Plans and Studies Existing and Planned Transit

Population Growth and Transit Needs Community and Stakeholder Feedback

10 13 18 19 20 21 22 23 25 25 26 28 28 30 33 33 39 42 42 44 67

Transit Service Alternatives

Alternative A Alternative B1 Alternative B2 Alternative C

Additional Considerations

Alternatives Evaluation

High-Level Operating Costs Strengths and Weaknesses

Preferred Option

Operating Characteristics Route Alignment and Zone Preferred Option Feasibility

Planning-Level Costs

Funding Opportunities and Partnerships

Next Steps

Action Item Matrix

Appendix A: Phase 1 Outreach Summary Appendix B: Rider Survey Summary Report

Information contained in this document is for planning purposes and should not be used for final design of any project. All results, recommendations, concept drawings, cost opinions, and commentary contained herein are based on limited data and information and on existing conditions that are subject to change.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Town of Wake Forest is seeking to expand its transit service. The Wake Forest Loop (WFL) circulator and the Wake Forest-Raleigh Express (WRX) have served the Town since 2008. The circulator service provides residents access to public services, medical facilities, and commercial destinations in Wake Forest and the Wakefield neighborhood in Raleigh. The express service provides commuter access to downtown Raleigh. With a rapid increase in population and development, expanded transit services are necessary in Wake Forest to provide residents, employees, and visitors additional mobility options beyond that of an automobile. The Town conducted the Wake Forest Public Transit Plan (Transit Plan) to explore the options to expand transit to serve growing parts of the Town and connect to key activity centers. The Transit Plan summarizes the evaluation of existing transit services in Wake Forest, discusses the viability of different transit expansion alternatives, and recommends a preferred option to expand transit – including the service type, cost of the service expansion, and steps to implement the service. An interdepartmental group of Town staff, with the support of a consultant team (the “project team”) developed the Transit Plan with input from the community. The project team held open house events at key milestones and conducted a community survey, a rider survey, and a pop-up engagement event to better understand the community’s transit needs and solicit feedback on alternative service scenarios. The Transit Plan presents the preferred alternative and next steps to implement the service, including an overview the preferred alternative operations – map(s) and operating assumptions.

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PURPOSE AND NEED FOR EXPANDED TRANSIT IN WAKE FOREST Although the Town of Wake Forest is currently served by transit services, rapid growth and development over the past decade require renewed understanding of how the transit services can be expanded to meet the current and future needs of the Town. Expanded transit service in the Town will provide an additional mobility option for residents, employees, and visitors to reach destinations inside and outside of the Town. Additional mobility options can support the Town’s ability to grow while lessening the impact of the growth on the existing roadway network. PREVIOUS PLANS AND STUDIES A review of previous plans and studies by the Town of Wake Forest, transit service providers, and regional partnering agencies provided insight into the purpose and need for expanding transit in the Town. The plans and studies summarized below have set the foundation from which the Transit Plan and the transit service alternatives considered are based. • The Town of Wake Forest Community Plan , adopted in April 2022, prioritizes transit as a key element of its long-term vision for the Town. It includes recommendations to nurture supportive urban development for transit, walking, and bicycling, with specific land use typologies and designated areas for Transit- Oriented Development. The Plan also proposes actions such as incorporating pedestrian/bicyclist/transit- oriented areas in shopping centers, expanding route networks, constructing smart bus shelters with interactive features, and exploring long-term transit options like fixed or microtransit. • The Town’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) is a long-range multi-modal Plan that aims to develop a safe, efficient, and inclusive transportation system. With a low percentage of residents utilizing existing services, the Plan acknowledges the current barriers to transit use. To address these barriers, the CTP recommends implementing additional bus loops, developing interactive websites and real-time technology, incorporating public art and wayfinding at bus shelters, and exploring microtransit options. • The Northeast Community Plan , adopted in late 2021, focuses on improving transit options in the historically Black Northeast Community. The Plan acknowledges limited connectivity and the lack of transit frequency in the area. Recommendations include exploring new transit connections and routes to link the community to commercial and job centers, investigating innovative multimodal technologies like microtransit, and considering the viability of adding transit routes to points north of the community. • The Wake Bus Plan provides an overview of the recommended transit service and capital investments from FY2025 to FY2030 across Wake County. The Plan focuses on four big moves, including regional connections, frequent transit networks, and enhanced access to transit. The Plan proposes replacing Route 401X in the Town of Rolesville with a potential microtransit service, a new Route2L that connects the northern terminus of Route 2 to Wake Forest, and capital investment for the Wake Forest Park and Ride Lot.

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EXISTING AND PLANNED TRANSIT The Town of Wake Forest is currently served by two fixed-route transit services and a paratransit service. The services are provided by GoRaleigh, a local transit provider operating services throughout the City of Raleigh and Wake County areas. • The Wake Forest Loop (WFL) is a bidirectional circulator that operates largely within the Town (and partially within Raleigh on the southwestern portion of the loop). WFL A runs clockwise and WFL B runs counterclockwise. Both loops operate every 75 minutes from approximately 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM Mondays to Fridays, and every 65 minutes from approximately 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Saturdays. • The Wake Forest-Raleigh Express (WRX) is a commuter service that connects Wake Forest to Downtown Raleigh, via Triangle Town Center. The WRX provides service on Mondays to Fridays approximately between 6:00 AM to 7:30 PM. In the northbound direction from Downtown Raleigh to Wake Forest, there are two buses in the morning and three buses in the evening. In the southbound direction from Wake Forest to Downtown Raleigh, there are three buses in the morning and two buses in the evening. Buses are an hour apart in both the morning and evening. • GoRaleigh Access provides a paratransit service for people with disabilities and covers trips that originate within 3/4-mile of any GoRaleigh bus stop. The service is available to anyone who qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act and requires an application. Trips need to be scheduled between 8:15 AM and 4:45 PM for the same day or next day. Trips may be scheduled via an online form, phone call, or email. • GoWake Access offers door-to-door service in Wake County, allowing individuals who require specialized transportation assistance to schedule trips for various purposes such as medical appointments, employment, education, and other essential activities. It is designed to provide accessible transportation options for individuals with disabilities, people 60 years or older, people who need work- related transportation, residents in rural service zones, or people who participate in a sponsored eligible service such as Medicaid. There are several planned transit services in Wake Forest based on regional transit and county plans. • Route 2L is a planned route by GoRaleigh that will provide new hourly service from Downtown Wake Forest to WakeMed North Hospital. 1 The route will be scheduled for timed transfers at the hospital to and from Route 2 in the peak direction. Route 2 provides half-hourly service to Downtown Raleigh via Falls of Neuse Road and Five Points. • The S-Line is an existing freight corridor between Tampa, FL and Washington, DC and was noted as an “Option for Future Expansion.” 2 The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is facilitating a group of municipal and regional stakeholders to study passenger rail options to provide a local commuter and regional intercity rail service through the S-Line. There are three potential S-Line stations, including a downtown stop, that will go through Wake Forest. • Rolesville Microtransit is being planned by GoRaleigh to open in FY2024 per the FY2025-2030 Wake Bus Plan. The operating scenarios for the service are still being developed, however, the current proposal includes specific drop-off/pickup locations in Wake Forest. The microtransit service would replace the 401X in Rolesville.

1 https://online.flippingbook.com/view/745228616/55/ 2 https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/ad165d3a7df8468b8c7f54c86e88b21d

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Figure 1 illustrates the existing transit services – the WFL and the WRX in Wake Forest, as well as services in the surrounding areas – the 25L in Raleigh, and the 401X in Rolesville. The proposed transit services shown are the Route 2L, proposed S-Line stations in Wake Forest, and the preliminary microtransit zone in Rolesville which will replace the 401X.

Figure 1. Existing and Proposed Transit Service in Wake Forest (2023)

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Ridership on existing transit services in Wake Forest were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The WFL carried approximately 30,000 riders annually until the start of the pandemic in 2020 where ridership was reduced to approximately 15,000-18,000 annually. Ridership began to rise again in 2022, though it has not reached pre- pandemic levels. Similarly, ridership on the WRX dropped from approximately 13,000 riders annually to 7,000 in 2022. This decline in ridership coincides with a national trend in transit ridership away from commuter use and toward all-purpose ridership, with commute-focused express services being slower to rebound to pre-pandemic ridership levels than other services. See Figure 2.






















Figure 2. WFL and WRX Annual Ridership (2018-2022)

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Figure 3 illustrates the density of weekday ridership on the WFL in 2022. Areas with higher ridership are in Downtown Wake Forest and retail and commercial activity centers on the west side of Town.

Figure 3. Ridership Density for Weekday WFL (2022)

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POPULATION GROWTH AND TRANSIT NEEDS The population in Wake Forest has been significantly increasing over the past decade. From 2010 to 2020, there was an estimated 32 percent increase in population density in Wake Forest –1,995 persons per square mile in 2010 to 2,638 persons per square mile in 2020. 3 Figure 4 maps the population density in the Town with data from the American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year, 2017-2021 estimates. The parts of Wake Forest that have the highest population density include the sections east of Main Street, near Calvin Jones Highway and Durham Road, north of Stadium Drive, and near Coach Lantern Avenue and Ligon Mill Road.

Figure 4. Wake Forest Population Density, Population Estimates from ACS 2017-2021

3 https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/wakeforesttownnorthcarolina

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Beyond population growth, the project team identified four elements that indicate where transit expansion in the Town is needed. • Transit Propensity , the likelihood that people would choose to take transit, can be indicated based on the demographics of the community. Areas that have a higher population density, a higher percent of households below the poverty line, and/or a higher percent of zero vehicle households have been shown by national and regional research to have a higher transit propensity. 4 • Transit-Oriented Development & Activity Centers are identified as growth areas in the Wake Forest Community Plan. It included three proposed Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) sites centered around the proposed S-Line commuter rail stations that would have highly walkable, active developments to support and fully leverage the new transit service. The Wake Forest Community Plan also designated four Activity Centers intended to be unique focal points of the community where residents can gather, socialize, live, work, and shop. • Local and Regional Areas were identified in previous plans as places to connect to transit. The Northeast Community Plan discussed the limited connectivity in the Northeast Community of Wake Forest. 5 Additionally, Wake County has led discussions about a connection between Wake Forest and Rolesville, a Town about five miles southeast of Wake Forest. • Multiuse Paths and Greenways are an important piece of the transit propensity analysis. Existing multiuse paths and greenways provide first- and last-mile connections for transit riders. They can also be destinations for local and regional visitors who want to travel by transit. Figure 5 illustrates these elements along with existing transit services in the Town and surrounding areas and formed the basis from which the project team developed transit service alternatives.

4 Regional studies include the GoTriangle FY 2021 Annual Bus Service Performance Report and the Wake County Transit Plan Update. 5 Northeast Community Plan (https://online.flippingbook.com/view/370447640/)

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Figure 5. Transit Propensity Wake Forest

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COMMUNITY AND STAKEHOLDER FEEDBACK The project team heard from the people of Wake Forest through multiple means of community and stakeholder engagement. The goals of the engagement process were to 1) better understand how well existing services are working for the public, and 2) consider potential alternatives. Eight engagement activities were held by the project team to gather feedback from the community and stakeholders. This section outlines these events chronologically as they were held throughout the planning process from October 2022 through July 2023. Board of Comissioners and Planning Board Work Sessions To kickoff the project, the project team made introductory presentations at the October 4, 2022 Board of Commissions work session and the October 11, 2022 Planning Board meeting. The presentations provided an overview of the transit types, key considerations, and the engagement efforts that would be made to develop the Transit Plan. Pop-up Event The project team attended the Lighting of Wake Forest holiday event on December 2, 2022 to provide information and gather feedback for the Transit Plan. At this pop-up, attendees were invited to place a sticker on a map to indicate where they would like to be able to travel to via bus. The map board received 224 responses and the Town staff along with the project team were able to answer questions about existing transit service from residents.

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Community Survey The project team released a community survey to learn more about the public transit preferences of residents. The community survey was made available from December 1, 2022 to February 19, 2023. The survey was available in an online format and a paper form made available at the December 2022 pop-up event. There were 687 unique participants. Results from the survey are summarized on page 16 and in Appendix A. Public Open Houses Two public open houses—one early afternoon and another in the evening—were hosted at the Alston- Massenburg Center by the project team on February 2, 2023. The goal of these open houses was to provide residents and stakeholders with information on the Transit Plan. Attendees were invited to share feedback on their existing use of transit and future transit needs. These open house events also included activities for kids. The project team hosted a BBQ to encourage participation and asked participants to ride the bus. The event was advertised via postcards mailed to residents and on the project’s webpage.

Rider Survey From March 12, 2023 to April 6, 2023, a survey focused on collecting input from people that use the existing transit services in Wake Forest was released by the project team. A total of 51 participants provided feedback related to existing transit and opportunities for improvement. Results from the survey are summarized below and in Appendix B. To promote the survey, the project team posted QR codes on sidewalk decals, posted signs at bus stops that took users to the online survey, and handed out information with the QR code to bus riders.

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Stakeholder Interviews The project team held interviews with key stakeholders in the region. Interviews were held with regional transit service providers – GoTriangle, GoRaleigh, and GoWake Access on May 9, 2023, and with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) on May 15, 2023. At the interviews, the project team presented draft transit service alternatives and received feedback about system compatibility from the transit service providers, and information on program funding from CAMPO. Board of Comissioners and Planning Board Work Sessions The project team made presentations at the July 6, 2023 Board of Commissions work session and the July 11, 2023 Planning Board meeting. The presentations provided an overview of the transit service alternatives being considered and the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative. Public Open Houses The project team hosted two public open houses—one early afternoon and another in the evening—on July 10, 2023 at the Alston-Massenburg Center. The goal of these open houses was to present transit service alternatives to expand transit services in Wake Forest. The strengths and weaknesses of each alternative were presented, and the project team solicited feedback on the community’s preferred alternative. To promote the open house, the project team placed notices on the project’s webpage and postcards with details about the open house were mailed to residents (sample below).

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In the community survey, 82% of the 679 respondents indicated that they do not ride transit in Wake Forest. See Figure 6.

At least once a week 1%

At least once a month 5%

A few times a year 12%

Never 82%

Figure 6. Frequency of Wake Forest Transit Use Among Survey Respondents, Community Survey February 2023

The low use of transit indicates that the existing transit services are not meeting the mobility needs of the Town. When asked what transit service needed to do differently to encourage people to ride transit more frequently, respondents top three responses were 1) go to more destinations , 2) come closer to their homes , and 3) travel faster . See Figure 7 for the top five reasons given.


Go to more destinations


Come closer to their homes


Travel faster

37% 37%

Have more information available

Come more often

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%

Figure 7. Things That Would Encourage Respondents to Take Transit More, Community Survey February 2023

Respondents indicated that the top destinations that they would like to access via transit, were: • Downtown Raleigh (66%), • Downtown Wake Forest (54%), • The Rogers Road Shopping Area (37%), • Joyner Park (36%), • Downtown Durham (34%), • South Main Street Wake Forest (34%), and • Wakefield Commons (33%).

See Appendix A for a full summary of results from the community survey.

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In the rider survey, 62% of the 25 people who responded to the question indicated that the primary purpose they take transit (the WFL or WRX) is to get to work, and 21% for shopping or errands. None of the respondents indicated that they used the transit to get school or special events. See Figure 8. “Other” included going to the gym and recreation. The prevalence of riders using transit to get to work, relates to 80% of respondents using transit at least three days per week.

Other 17%

Work 62%

Shopping or errands 21%

Figure 8. Primary Purposes for Taking Transit, Rider Survey April 2023

When asked how they would get to their destinations if the WFL or WRX were not available, respondents top two responses were taxi or ridehailing app (42%) and someone else would drive (25%). See Figure 9 for the top six responses.


Drive alone Walk Bicycle or scooter Would not make the trip Someone else would drive Taxi or ridehailing app


8% 8% 8% 8%

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%

Figure 9. Alternatives if Transit WFL or WRX Were Not Available, Rider Survey April 2023

Additional key takeaways from the rider survey include: • 83% of respondents walk to access bus stops, • The top features desired at bus stops are seating (58%), lighting (54%), and accessible paths (54%), • 37% of respondents racially identified as Black/African American, • 79% of respondents are very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their transit experience, and • 56% of respondents are from a household making less than $47,000 per year.

See Appendix B for a full summary of results from the rider survey.

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TRANSIT SERVICE ALTERNATIVES The project team developed transit service alternatives based on five key purposes for transit expansion. The purposes and brief justifications for each purpose are listed below: • Serve Northeast Wake Forest Identified as a key need in the 2021 Northeast Community Plan and an area with high transit propensity. • Serve Southern Wake Forest Based on population growth and high transit propensity. • Connect to key activity centers Based on community feedback to connect to more destinations. • Connect to future S-Line Stations Identified as a key connection in 2022 Community Plan and 2021 Northeast Community Plan. • Connect to Rolesville Identified as a key connection in the FY2025-2030 Wake Bus Plan. Based on the five key purposes, options for transit expansion were evaluated. Four transit service expansion alternatives were developed by the project team and are described in a series of maps on the following pages. • Alternative A Two new circulator loops by adjusting the existing WFL. • Alternative B1 New microtransit zone with the WFL. • Alternative B2 An alternative to B1 with a new microtransit zone and Alternative A circulators. • Alternative C New microtransit zone and elimination of the WFL.

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ALTERNATIVE A Modification of the WFL route to create two loops – East Loop and West Loop (Figure 10). The West Loop would largely follow the existing WFL route with some adjustments to add Ligon Mill Road and decrease the WFL length and deviations. The proposed East Loop route would go to destinations that the WFL currently connects to as well as new destinations, such as Joyner Park, the Wake Forest Reservoir, and Flaherty Park. In the Town’s core both loops would overlap to provide more frequent service in areas with higher ridership stops on the WFL (see Figure 3). The West Loop is approximately 13 miles and would travel in a counterclockwise direction, and the East Loop is 16 miles in a clockwise direction.

Figure 10. Proposed Transit Alternative – New East Loop and West Loop Circulators

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ALTERNATIVE B1 Southern Wake Forest Microtransit Zone + WFL (Figure 11) would provide service to areas in southern Wake Forest via a microtransit service and combine with the existing WFL. This alternative would increase access to destinations through the connection to the current circulator route.

Figure 11. Proposed Transit Alternative – Southern Wake Forest Microtransit and Connection with WFL

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ALTERNATIVE B2 Southern Wake Forest Microtransit Zone + Alternative A (Figure 12) would provide service to areas in southern Wake Forest via a microtransit service and combine with the circulator loops proposed in Alternative A. This alternative would increase access to additional destinations, such as Joyner Park, the Wake Forest Reservoir, and Flaherty Park, via a choice of the two circulator loops.

Figure 12. Proposed Transit Alternative – Southern Wake Forest Microtransit and Connection with Alternative A Circulators

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ALTERNATIVE C Wake Forest Microtransit (Figure 13) would be a new microtransit zone that eliminates the WFL and serves all residents and destinations in Wake Forest. The exact boundaries of the microtransit zone would be further refined to include all the Town’s boundaries and potentially select destinations outside of the Town when the service is designed for implementation.

Figure 13. Proposed Transit Alternative – Wake Forest Microtransit

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ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS There are additional considerations of the Transit Plan that go beyond the transit expansion alternatives. These additional considerations include: • An expansion of the WRX to an all-day bidirectional route that would provide additional options for people to travel between Downtown Raleigh and Wake Forest, especially for midday trips for non-work purposes, e.g., going to medical appointments, or shopping. • Expanding the WFL to have a 30-minute frequency to decrease the time that people must wait to get a bus. • Extending the Planned Route 2L to Northeast Wake Forest which is being considered as a new transit service to begin in FY 2029. • Rolesville Microtransit is planned to open in FY 2024 per the FY2025-2030 Wake Bus Plan and could potentially serve specific pick up/drop off nodes within Wake Forest. When it opens, the service will replace the Route 401X. This service could satisfy the transit expansion purpose of connecting Wake Forest to Rolesville

Although these were not considered as part of the transit expansion alternatives, they are potentially viable options that the Town may consider in the future to meet the needs of riders.

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Figure 14 illustrates the expanded route additional considerations.

Figure 14. Additional Considerations for Transit Expansion

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ALTERNATIVES EVALUATION The project team evaluated the four alternatives by 1) estimating high-level operating costs for each alternative, 2) assessing how well each alternative met the stated purposes for transit expansion, and 3) summarizing the alternatives’ strengths and weaknesses. HIGH-LEVEL OPERATING COSTS To compare the alternatives, the project team developed high-level operating costs. These costs are based on initial assumptions about the operating scenario for each alternative and are not final recommendations for how the alternative would operate if implemented. Table 1 summarizes the comparative high-level operating costs for the alternatives. The annual operating cost for the existing WFL is also provided for comparison. The annual operating cost for Alternative A is similar to the existing WFL’s cost ($1,002,000 for the WFL, compared to $1,040,000 for Alternative A). This is primarily because the assumption for Alternative A is similar to the existing WFL. The West Loop of Alternative A will operate in a counterclockwise direction, while the East Loop would be clockwise. Table 1: Summary of High-Level Annual Operating Costs per Alternative


Existing WFL





Loop A $501,000 Loop B $501,000

West Loop $520,000 East Loop $520,000

Microtransit $700,000 WFL (A+B) $1,002,000

Microtransit $700,000 Alternative A $1,040,000

Microtransit $1,400,000







These costs are only for a high-level comparison of the alternatives, not for programing reasons.

ASSUMPTIONS Circulator • Circulator operating cost assumes vehicle revenue hour cost of $109.39 (FY2024 GoRaleigh cost). • Circulator loops in Alternative A assume the same service times and frequency as the existing WFL. Microtransit assumes vehicle revenue hour cost of $80. • Microtransit cost is based on number of vehicles needed. Ridership demand is a factor of vehicles needed. Generally, the larger the service area, the more demand. More vehicles will help ensure the service can meet the demand, fulfill more riders, and reduce waiting times for riders. • Microtransit cost assumes top end of cost range – higher ridership demand and more vehicles – two vehicles for Alternatives B1 and B2; four vehicles for Alternative C. Microtransit •

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STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES Table 2 summarizes how well each of the four transit service alternatives meets the five stated purposes for transit expansion in Wake Forest. Alternatives B1, B2, and C all similarly meet four of the five purposes, because they provide transit service coverage to a large part of the Town. Alternative A does not connect to areas in southern Wake Forest, and only connects to a portion of the S-line stations. All the alternatives do not satisfy the purpose to connect to Rolesville because they primarily serve destinations and communities within the Town. The Rolesville Microtransit service being planned for FY 2024 service could provide connectivity between the Wake Forest and Rolesville (see the Additional Considerations section above).

Table 2: Summary of Transit Expansion Purpose and Alternatives Alternative A Alternative B1

Alternative B1

Alternative C

● ◔ ● ◕ ◔

● ● ● ● ◔

● ● ● ● ◔

● ● ● ●

Connect to Northeast Wake Forest Connect to Southern Wake Forest Connect to Activity Centers

Connect to S-line Stations

Connect to Rolesville ◔ Key : ● – fully meets the purpose ; ◕ – partially meets the purpose ; ◔ – does not meet the purpose

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Table 3 summarizes the strengths and weaknesses for each alternative. It combines the information in Table 1 and Table 2 to compare benefits and shortfalls of each alternative. Table 3. Summary of Strengths and Weaknesses for Each Alternative Strengths Weaknesses

• Connects to key activity centers and high ridership stops. • Increases service in Town’s core. • Shortens the WFL with fewer deviations. • Potentially near neutral operating cost change. • Adds service to high transit propensity area. • Complements circulator service(s) to provide additional connectivity. • Connects to key activity centers, S-Line, and high ridership stops. (B2) • Connects to all activity centers and S-Line stations. • Opportunity to reallocate circulator cost. • Expands services to places not serviced by WFL. • Potentially attracts more choice riders. • Potentially near neutral operating cost change.

• Changes an established service in the Town (WFL). • Two different routes may cause rider confusion. • Misses the S-Line station and high transit propensity area to the south. • Does not connect to Rolesville.


• Higher annual operating cost. • Does not connect to Rolesville.

B1 & B2

• Discontinues established WFL. • No fixed-route service in the Town. • Does not connect to Rolesville.


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PREFERRED OPTION The project team identified Alternative B2 – East and West Loops and the Southern Wake Forest Microtransit as the preferred option to expand transit services in Wake Forest. For the preferred option, the East Loop in Alternative B2 was adjusted to shorten the route length and ensure a shorter travel time to complete the route. The shortened East Loop would not provide service to areas that had low ridership on the WFL along Rogers and Heritage Lake roads (see Figure 3). This alternative would meet the Town’s goals to expand transit service for its residents, employees, and visitors by modifying the WFL route to create two loops – East Loop and West Loop combined with a new microtransit service zone in southern Wake Forest. The WRX would continue operating as it does today to provide express service between Wake Forest and downtown Raleigh. OPERATING CHARACTERISTICS The project team developed operating characteristics for the two transit services – the East and West loop circulators, and the microtransit zone. CIRCULATORS The East and West loops would operate as circulators. The recommended operating characteristics are summarized in Table 4. The loops would have a small adjustment to the WFL’s operating hours and frequency. They will provide service 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with no service on Sunday. The frequency on each loop will be 60 minutes. Compared to the WFL, this service recommendation standardizes the operating times and can help riders understand and predictably expect the circulators. It will be easier for riders to understand and remember that a bus comes every hour 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Mondays to Saturdays. Table 4: East and West Loops Operating Characteristics Characteristic Recommendation

12 miles (East Loop) 13 miles (West Loop)

Route Length

Clockwise (East Loop) Counterclockwise (West Loop)



Every 60 minutes

Days of Operation

Monday to Saturday

Span of Hours

6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Cost to Riders


Vehicle Type

40-ft buses

Vehicles Needed


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The circulators’ level of service and quality of service provided to riders can be further improved by increasing the frequency (how many times the bus comes per hour) of the routes. A higher frequency decreases the time riders must wait to get on the bus. To increase the frequency additional vehicles will needed for each route. The recommendations in Table 4 assume two buses total – one for each loop. If the routes had an additional bus (two buses for each route), the frequency can be increased to two buses per hour, or service every 30 minutes. MICROTRANSIT The microtransit zone in southern Wake Forest would provide transit service in an area of the Town with a primarily residential land use and curvilinear street network that is not very conducive for fixed-route transit. The Southern Wake Forest Microtransit zone would allow residents to use an on-demand service to get to and from destinations within southern Wake Forest and the Wakefield neighborhood of Raleigh. Riders would be able to transfer between the microtransit service and the West Loop to connect between other destinations in the Town. The project team developed assumptions about the operating characteristics for the microtransit zone, summarized in Table 5, however, additional analysis will be needed to develop the best operational strategy for the service. Unlike the circulator service which is based on an existing service (the WFL), the southern microtransit zone would be a new service for Wake Forest. Before launching the microtransit service, the Town will need to conduct additional planning and coordination with a third party microtransit service operator to determine the best service characteristics for southern Wake Forest. Two sets of assumptions are made about the operating characteristics for the microtransit service: 1) a door-to- door service that picks up and drops off riders at any destinations within the zone, or 2) node-to-node service that only picks up and drops of riders at established nodes located within the zone. In a door-to-door service, riders can request microtransit vehicles pick them up at a specific location or address within the zone (e.g. at their home) and be transported to another specific location or address within the zone (e.g. school). Riders will not have to travel long distances to access the service. The microtransit service operator can combine trips for riders traveling to the same or nearby locations to create a shared ride – one vehicle or trip taking more than one rider to the same or nearby destinations. However, shared rides are not very common because it is not very likely that riders will be traveling to the same or nearby destination, and small 6-8 person vehicles are usually used. In a node-to-node service, riders would have to travel longer distances to access the microtransit service at locations such as existing or new bus stops or key activity centers. The node-to-node service can help streamline the operations by making trips more predictable and increasing the likelihood of shared rides. Because of the increased likelihood of shared rides, larger vehicles are assumed for the node-to-node service. The microtransit service would have similar operating hours as the WFL – standardized hours Mondays to Saturdays. Table 5: Southern Microtransit Zone Operating Characteristics Characteristic Door-to-Door Assumptions Node-to-Node Assumptions Days of Operation Monday to Saturday Monday to Saturday

6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Monday to Saturday)

6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Monday to Saturday)

Span of Hours

$2.00 (free for youth, seniors, people with disabilities)

Cost to Riders




16 nodes

Vehicle Type


16-seat cutaway

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ROUTE ALIGNMENT AND ZONE CIRCULATORS The project team recommends operating the East Loop in the clockwise direction and the West Loop counterclockwise. There are fewer infrastructure improvements needed to install bus stops when travelling in the clockwise direction in the East Loop and counterclockwise operation in the West Loop avoids challenging left-turn movements. The East and West loops would provide access to several destinations. Key destinations include: East Loop • Downtown Wake Forest Historic District • Flaherty Park and Community Center* • Joyner Park and Community Center* • Kiwanis Park • Retail and restaurants at E Roosevelt Avenue and Brooks Street • Shopping Center at Gateway Commons Circle and Dr Calvin Jones Highway • Envision Science Academy* • United States Postal Service at S White Street and E Holding Avenue • Wake Forest Community Library • Wake Forest Historical Museum • Wake Forest Reservoir* • Wake Forest Sprayground • Wake Forest Crossing Shopping Center • Wake Forest High School

West Loop •

Downtown Wake Forest Historic District Forest Pines Elementary School Shopping Center at Dr Calvin Jones Highway and Ligon Mill Road*

Shops and Restaurants at S Main Street and Carter Street

• •

• Shops at Ligon Mill Road (Dr Calvin Jones Highway to S Main Street)* • Shops at Retail Drive • Wakefield Commons Shopping Center • Wake Forest Community Library • Wake Forest Crossing Shopping Center • Wake Forest High School • Wake Forest Historical Museum • Wake Forest Sprayground

Kiwanis Park

• • •

Northeast Regional Library

North Forest Pines Elementary School

• North Wake College and Career Academy • Shoppes at Wake Forest Shopping Mall • Shopping Center at Forest Pines Drive and Common Oaks Drive

* new destinations that the WFL does not serve currently The new circulators will provide access to six additional key destinations compared to the WFL. Existing bus stops will serve the locations that are currently served by the WFL, however, new stops will be needed for the new destinations. The project team identified the need for 15 new potential bus stops. Before the new circulators are implemented, bus stops will need to be installed to serve these destinations, and evaluation of sidewalks, bus pads, and safe crossings is needed to determine final stop locations.

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MICROTRANSIT There are several key destinations within the Southern Wake Forest Microtransit Zone that riders would be able to access. While, the final boundaries of the zone will need to be refined before launching the service, destinations in the Southern Wake Forest Microtransit Zone include:

Endeavor Charter School

• • • • •

Goddard School of Wake Forest Heritage High School Heritage Middle School Northeast Regional Library

• Primrose School of Heritage Wake Forest • Shops at Ligon Mill Road and S Main Street • Shopping Center at Forestville Road and Rogers Road • Shopping Center at S Main Street and Wake Drive • Shopping Center at Rogers Road and Heritage Center Drive • Wakefield Commons Shopping Center

The service can be operated as a door-to-door service, or a node-to-node service. For the node-to-node service, the project team has identified 16 potential nodes that are located in residential areas and near key destinations so riders can access the service from their home and access retail areas, parks, schools, and other activity areas, and transfer between the West Loops to access additional destinations throughout the Town. The nodes, in no particular order are: 1. Commons Oaks Drive and Oliver Road 2. Endeavor Charter School 3. Forest Pines Drive and John Rex Boulevard 4. Forestville Road and Rogers Road

5. Crossings at Heritage 6. Heritage High School 7. Ligon Mill Road and Lariat Ridge Drive 8. Ligon Mill Road and S Main Street 9. Ligon Mill Road Porto Fino Avenue 10. Marshall Farm Street and Heritage View Trail 11. Richland Creek Church 12. Rogers Road and Heritage Center Drive

13. Shearon Farms 14. Song Sparrow Dr 15. Stonegate 16. Wake Drive and S Main Street Figure 15 illustrates the preferred transit service option with the East and West loops, and nodes for the microtransit zone.

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Figure 15. Preferred Option

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PREFERRED OPTION FEASIBILITY The project team developed planning-level costs to understand the level of resources that is likely needed to start- up and operate the preferred transit option. These costs are high-level costs and are the project team’s opinion of likely costs based on information and assumptions made during the planning study. PLANNING-LEVEL COSTS CAPITAL COSTS The capital cost for initializing the preferred transit option is primarily for the installation of new bus stops on the circulator routes and the microtransit node-to-node service. Since the routes are adjustments to the WFL, the existing bus can be used for the new routes, primarily on the West Loop. The project team identified the need for 15 new stops, however, additional analysis is needed to evaluate the specific need for each bus stop and its location. Additionally, as new developments open and expand in the future, the Town will evaluate the need for new bus stops. The planning-level cost estimated to implement the 15 bus stops is approximately $180,000. This cost assumes a general unit cost per bus stop of $12,000, however the range of costs can be between $5,000 to $19,000 per stop. The cost will depend on the needs at each specific bus stop, such as sidewalk connections, concrete pads, right-of-way, post and signage, shelters, benches, and trash receptacles. For the microtransit service (if deployed as a node-to-node service) 10 of the 16 nodes will require a bus stop with a concrete pad and shelter to provide a comfortable place for riders to wait to access the microtransit service – the remaining six are existing WFL bus stops that have a pad and shelter. The planning-level cost estimated to implement 10 bus stops is approximately $190,000. This cost assumes a general unit cost per bus stop of $19,000 to account for the higher costs of a concrete pad, shelter, and potentially right-of-way needs. OPERATING COSTS The project team’s opinion of the planning-level total annual operating costs for the preferred option is between $1,337,000 and $3,016,000. This is the cost to operate both circulator routes (East and West loops) and the Southern Wake Forest Microtransit. The range is dependent on a 60-minute or 30-minute frequency for the West Loop and a low or high demand for the microtransit service (a higher frequency and a higher microtransit demand is on the high-end of the cost range). The section below provides costs for several options that the Town can use to identify the best level of service based on available funding.

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Circulators The operating costs for the circulators are based on the cost to operate the WFL. Table 6 outlines the current operating characteristics for the WFL (A and B loops) and the annual operating cost assumed by the Town of Wake Forest and GoRaleigh for FY 2024. The total cost for the WFL’s Monday to Friday and Saturday service is approximately $1,002,000 ($854,000 for weekday service, and $148,000 for Saturdays). The cost is based on a unit operating cost set by GoRaleigh of $109.39 per vehicle hour. These factors are assumed as the basis to develop an opinion of planning-level operating cost for the East and West loops. Note, approximately 17% of the WFL operates in the City of Raleigh (based on the route’s length), therefore the cost to the Town of Wake Forest is 83% of the total cost – approximately $832,000.

Table 6: WFL Operating Cost (FY2024) for A and B Loops

Monday to Friday


Route Length (miles) Frequency (minutes)

16 (one-way for each loop)

16 (one-way for each loop)

65 minutes

75 minutes

Revenue Hours per Day



Number of Vehicles

2 (one for each loop)

2 (one for each loop)

Vehicle Revenue Hours per Day Total Vehicle Hours per Day 1

28 30

24 30 52

Days per Year 2


Vehicle Revenue Hours per Year



Annual Operating Cost 3 Cost per Vehicle Hour

$854,000 $109.39


$109.39 1 Includes one hour of deadhead per day for each vehicle to account for travel to and from bus garage. 2 Average weekdays and Saturdays per year. 3 Rounded up to the nearest 1,000ths.

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(assuming the current cost-splitting arrangement continues in a similar fashion).

Table 7 summarizes the assumptions and the planning-level annual operating costs for East and West loops. The routes have a similar travel time, therefore the costs are identical – $550,000 per year for each loop ($1,100,000 total). Like the WFL, approximately 17% of the West Loop route length operates in the City of Raleigh, therefore the project team assumes that under a similar agreement between Raleigh and Town of Wake Forest, the cost of the West Loop to the Town is 83% of the total cost – $457,000 for a total of $1,007,000 for both loops (assuming the current cost-splitting arrangement continues in a similar fashion).

Table 7: Estimated Annual Operating Cost for Circulator – 60-minute Frequency

West Loop (Counterclockwise)

East Loop (Clockwise)

Route Length (miles) Frequency (minutes)

12 (one-way)

13 (one-way)

60 15

60 15

Revenue Hours per Day 1

Number of Vehicles Total Hours per Day



15 16

15 16

Total Vehicle Hours per Day 2

Days per Year 3



Vehicle Revenue Hours per Year 4,992


Cost per Vehicle Hour 4





Annual Operating Cost

Annual Operating Cost (minus City of Raleigh Portion – 17%) Total Annual Operating Cost 5




1 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. 2 Includes one hour of deadhead per day for each vehicle to account for travel to and from bus garage. 3 Average weekdays and Saturdays per year. 4 Based on FY2024 cost per revenue hour for GoRaleigh fixed route. 5 Assumes the cost-splitting arrangement between Raleigh and Wake Forest continues in a similar fashion.

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