With NC State being a permanent landmark of the Triangle, NC State students are an instrumental part of the local economy as a major source of high-skill labor. Running along the southern border of NC State’s main campus, Western Boulevard serves as one of the main routes that connects NC State with both downtown Raleigh and downtown Cary. With large increases in daily traffic, Wake County recognized the need for better transit and voters passed a referendum, which authorized a half-percent sales tax increase to plan and develop Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
BRT is an infrastructure system that promotes the use of efficient public bus transportation by dedicating bus lanes, prohibiting traffic across lanes and more. Currently, the city of Raleigh and Wake County are planning for the development of a BRT corridor along Western Boulevard and have opened a public survey that can be filled out by residents to make comments about the plan. Under the current plans, there will be bus stations similar to monorail stations along the planned corridors.
With a talent pool of thousands of well-educated workers, NC State serves as an institution that helps Raleigh continue to thrive. As students looking for jobs and opportunities, downtown Raleigh and Cary gives us a plethora of opportunities for employment. These new developments are particularly useful because, after COVID-19 dies down, the student body on and around campus will need a better infrastructure system to commute to work as Raleigh-Durham National Airport continues to urbanize.
As a result, these residents should make sure the transit plan gives us the infrastructure resources we need. According to the Wake County government’s public website, Wake County had 9,646,173 passenger boardings last recorded, with GoRaleigh accounting for 55% of all passenger boarding and the NC State’s Wolfline accounting for 35%. With this many commuters using public transport, the current infrastructure is no longer sufficient.
Anyone who has driven on Western Boulevard during rush hour knows how bad it can get. Because Western Boulevard runs alongside NC State’s main campus, the city should plan for there to be a bus station that is easily accessible for students. A bus station would allow university residents and those who live in apartments, like Valentine Commons or University Towers, to have cost-effective and efficient transportation to and from campus. The funding has already been appropriated, but we just have to tell the city and county that we need it.
Public transportation developments with the light rail system in Charlotte have allowed UNC-Charlotte students to get better employment opportunities by connecting them to Uptown and Pineville. At NC State, we need a bus station like the light rail stop at UNC-C that will allow us to access these opportunities, so we can stay competitive in the modern economy.
The current public transportation system around NC State does not meet residents' demand. While the Wolfline is sufficient for traveling around Main Campus and Centennial Campus, current GoRaleigh routes are not as efficient as they could be for connecting the University with Union Station, downtown and the business district because of car traffic on Hillsborough Street.
The public online survey is open till Oct. 19, so be sure to voice your views and tell the planning and zoning department we need a bus station on campus to serve us, in addition to any other things you would like to see happen. This is a simple act that can go a long way in promoting a better future for all present and incoming students. NC State is a thriving campus, and it is in our best interest to make sure it continues to successfully grow through the utilization of public transportation to connect us to the world around.