R-Line A Month Later

A month ago the R-Line started making its rounds in downtown. Today, yet another Friday the 13th, is time to look at the past month and discuss the new downtown service. RalCon’s page to rep the R-Line is here or through the link at the top.

Ridership

I have no hard numbers to show but from what I have seen and heard, the ridership is busier during the most obvious of hours. Lunch during the weekday and Friday/Saturday nightlife hours are the most popular times to see groups of people on the R-Line. I’m rarely in downtown during the lunch hours so I’ll trust the few people who have told me this, including one of the bus drivers. There were about 10-14 people riding on the few Friday and Saturday nights that I have been on. I’m not sure what the city expects but these seem like solid numbers in its first month of service. As with anything, it will take some time for people to absorb the R-Line and incorporate it into their routine. As for visitors and convention center mobs, they are steered toward using the R-Line with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance’s new marketing campaign, You R Here, which is a great looking website and I applaud them for re-designing the site.

Convenience

The R-Line is pretty convenient and it makes downtown seem a little smaller. Fayetteville St. and Glenwood South are now a short ride away. However, it is a game to see how long you will wait at a stop for a bus. I have not seen any times posted so I’m guessing the bus is not on a set schedule. There have been times when I have caught the R-Line the minute I walked up to a stop. Other times, I have seen it pull away as I turn the corner resulting in a ‘long’ wait. The 10-15 minute wait time has been accurate though and in my experience, I’ve rarely waited more then 15 minutes. While not necessary right now, a website similar to TranLoc could be created to show people the bus’s current location. A mobile version of this website would be even more powerful, especially now that the city is flirting with the idea of bringing free wifi all over downtown. Its just an idea but not needed right now as the bus is pretty convenient overall.

Signage

The R-Line stop signage may need a little upgrade. On a positive note, the signs are large and clear with the stop name and number at each location. The problem with the signs is that a casual pedestrian that does not know of the R-Line is not well informed. There is a number to call but I think it would be much more informative if a map and route were shown on the signs. Also, the extended route after 6:30pm needs to be highlighted so people are not confused by the change in route.

Hybrid Buses

Have you seen the buses? They stand out pretty well in the middle of traffic and draw attention to themselves. This should self promote the R-Line and get people talking. Also, the hybrid buses are noticeably quieter then the CAT buses coming out of Moore Square. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the buses sometimes look too big and making turns can be a little tight at times. In some instances, I’ve seen cars backing up to let it pass. This might take a slight tweaking of the lines on the street so that the R-Line can flow more smoothly.

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8 Comments

  1. I think that the R-Line is a step to the right direction. Hopefully, there will be enough interest to at least charge $1 for the service. Hopefully, it will not hurt the Rickshaw guys, who have been working hard to get people around.

    As for the ridership, the few times that I have observed the R-Line, I have not seen many people inside the buses, but I am hoping things will pick up enough to make this new line a success – if we can’t get people to ride for free, WTF? :LOL:

  2. The very first time I rode the R-Line, was on Feb. 13 around 9pm at the Seaboard stop. That night, the bus was practically empty. Exactly one week ago I caught it again at Seaboard around 10pm. I got on the bus and it was PACKED! I was pretty surprised, but glad to see it. When we got to the Tucker stop, the bus emptied but for two or three of us. It was interesting!

    I don’t think it’ll hurt the rickshaw guys too much. The R-Line is on a fixed route, that only runs in one direction. A rickshaw could be quicker in many instances, not to mention far more romantic. ;)

  3. There’s no predictability on ridership…it’s really random when crowds show up. (Well, Fri and Sat nights are a given.)

    I agree on the signage issue…not easily seen, and maps would help. (Thankfully there’s plenty on the bus itself.)
    Another signage aspect is the markings for “No Parking, Bus Zone”. Some are not obvious, and some are ignored. The one in front of Hibernian is the worst (someone’s almost always parked there), but the Depot area is bad too.

    I also agree some of those tight turns may need to have the white stop line moved back to accommodate them. The Warehouse District is by far the worst for tight turns. Yikes. Maybe they should have gotten slightly shorter buses?

    Miamiblue is right…the Rickshaw folks will be fine since they don’t run on a fixed route. The R line is a circulator, going around downtown. It doesn’t go in the main core areas like Fayetteville Street or Powerhouse Square, and only hits the Warehouse District and Moore Square areas after 6:30. The Rickshaw guys cover these areas and beyond…I even see them go down Hillsborough, Boylan, Person, West Morgan and occasionally Cameron Village. (Think I even saw one in the Oakwood area once.) You just can’t compare the two.

  4. The size of these buses is laughable. One of the buses the other day, held up traffic for 4 minutes trying to make a right hand turn (I was in that mess), could not cut the corner (traffic backed up, the bus driver had to do a 5 point turn). What a JOKE!

    The buses need to be half the size, come on Raleigh! Get your heads out of your back end, wipe yourselves off and open your eyes. Can we do anything right around here when it comes to transit service?

  5. Thomas makes a good point. Instead of two gigantic buses running the route they should have gotten 3 small-to-medium sized buses.

  6. I agree with Thomas and RaleighRob. These things are just too big for the current demand. I love the idea, but like Rob said, they should have gotten more medium sized buses. Then they could have been more flexible with the route.

  7. OK, 40% hybrid lets just say thats a failing grade anyway you look at it. Why isn’t anyone calling it out for what it is…its called greenwash people, Greenwash.

    Look it up Raleigh Downtown Alliance/Cat. and I don’t feel good about having helped pay for their PR stunt or paying for the alliance period with tax payers money.

    Speaking of that the r-line is NOT free, 80% of the 2.5 million being spent came from your federal taxes and 20% came fom your local taxes. that is an expensive shuttle. What a waste for some PR.
    Shame on you City of Raleigh, Shame on you MR.Mayor and city council, shame.

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