Durham County Transit Plan

Over several decades, the Triangle has been one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the United States, and this growth remains strong today. Each day, 20 new residents call Durham and Orange County home, while Wake County adds over 60 new residents daily. This growth brings challenges and opportunity for both how our communities develop and how we get around. This region is what it is today because of numerous strategic decisions – the siting of the State Capitol in Raleigh, the creation of the first public university in the United States in Chapel Hill, the construction of the North Carolina Railroad through Durham, and the decision to build a research center amid these communities that has grown into a globally recognized center of science and technology.

Built to complement each other, the transit plans of Durham, Orange, and Wake counties are the expression of the region’s next strategic decision: that exceptional public transportation can bring all of our communities together in a way that accelerates economic growth, expands travel choices beyond increasingly congested roadways, enhances job access and opportunity for residents across the income spectrum, and helps preserve our natural resources by focusing growth more in transit corridors and less near environmentally sensitive areas.

This 2017 Durham County Transit Plan updates the 2011 Bus and Rail Investment Plan (2011 Plan), adopted by the governing boards of Durham County, the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO), and GoTriangle. The goals of this plan have not changed from the original plan. They are to move toward creation of an exceptional public transportation system in our region that provides greater transportation options for Durham residents and employers in order to positively impact traffic congestion and air quality while supporting local development policies.


There are four dedicated revenue streams used to fund the local share of projects and services in this Plan, referred to throughout the Plan as Tax District Revenues. These revenues are collected in both Durham and Orange Counties; the revenues governed by this Plan are those collected in Durham County. These four dedicated Tax District Revenue streams are as follows:

  • Article 43: Half-Cent Sales and Use Tax
  • Article 50: Five-Percent Vehicle Rental Tax
  • Article 51: Three-Dollar increase to GoTriangle Regional Vehicle Registration Fee
  • Article 52: Seven Dollar County Vehicle Registration Fee

Many of the projects and services in this Plan will be funded through a combination of Tax District Revenue and other funds including farebox revenues, state funds, and federal funds.  Using these various funding sources, this Plan strives to equitably meet the transportation needs and goals of Durham County.

Projects and Services

As in the 2011 Plan, this 2017 Plan includes continued funding for the same level of bus service expansion.  This includes:

  • All-day, every-15-minute service along key corridors,
  • More frequent regional service connections to Chapel Hill, Carrboro, RDU Airport, and Raleigh,
  • More demand-response service throughout Durham County to connect residents with jobs and educational opportunities.
  • Improvements to bus facilities, including
    • Improved bus stops with amenities such as benches and shelters,
    • Improved walking access to stops, and
    • More leased park-and-ride lots to widen the access to outlying areas.
  • Local funding for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project
    • 50,000 annual hours of high-quality, efficient, and reliable transportation service between Chapel Hill and Durham
    • “Rail Dividend” hours: more than 45,000 hours of existing bus service replaced by rail, allowing GoTriangle, GoDurham, and Chapel Hill Transit the ability to connect neighborhoods throughout the counties to light rail stations and other bus routes.
  • Wake-Durham Commuter Rail Project
    • Connecting Durham with Research Triangle Park, Cary, Raleigh, and Garner
    • Providing a reliable alternative to the congestion of the Durham Freeway and I-40.

Errata & Revisions

Following release of the draft Durham County Transit Plan on March 31, 2017, several minor errors were identified in the Plan text.

The Plan has been updated to reflect these changes. The table below lists the differences between the initial March 31 Plan release and the April 4 revision.

Change # Section Column Location Change
1 ES Both Figure ES-1.1-1 Figure ES-1.1-1 has been updated.
2 4.2.1 Right First full paragraph Final sentence reads: “Due to the change in funding assumptions, the total amount set aside for the 18 buses included in this Plan, plus future replacements, is $22.3 $23.2 million YOE.”
3 5.4 Both Figure 5.4-1, Figure 5.4-2, and Figure 5.4-3 Figure 5.4-1, Figure 5.4-2, and Figure 5.4-3 have been updated.
4 5.6 Both Figure 5.6-1 Figure 5.6-1 has been updated.
5 5.6 Left First paragraph Last sentence modified to read: “From fiscal years 2017 through 2045, the minimum projected cash balance after funding debt service, operations, maintenance and reserves is $7.3 million YOE $7.1 million YOE in fiscal year 2027.
 6  Appendix A N/A N/A Formatting errors led to the omission of several columns in Appendix A: Cash Flow Details. The document has been reformatted and now includes all years between 2017 and 2045 for both counties. April 7, 2017
April 10 Revision
1 ES Left Page 3 The previous revision discussed the cost-sharing assumption for the D-O LRT Project being assumed for purposes of this draft Plan, subject to further negotiation by Durham County and Orange County. This errata adds additional detail about the rationale for the modified cost-sharing assumption.
2 1 Right New Section 1.1, Page 6 A new Section 1.1, “Why Transit?”, was added. Other subsections in Section 1.1 were renumbered accordingly.
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