Downtown Raleigh Circulator Analyzed

A great addition is possibly coming to downtown next month. The city is proposing a free downtown circulator (finally!) and has more details on their website here, with a .pdf map of the route here.

Let’s geek out a little and break down the route to see how much nicer travel within downtown will be. This is what we know or will assume:

  • The link above claims a bus will arrive every 10-15 minutes.
  • One bus will run the route at all times.

Unless you are speeding, no one can drive that entire route under the speed limit in 10 minutes. I know this because I tried it. (disclaimer: Yes, I do have a life. It just so happened that I needed to move my car and I got curious so I decided to drive the route and time it) Driving the route at a normal speed with little traffic takes just under 15 minutes. Add stop time for passengers and we are looking at a 20 minute total route time with one bus; if traffic is bad, who knows. So the wait time may suck but running two buses at peak hours will take care of that problem easily.

Travel time is hands down more convenient. Assuming a 20 minute round trip time, let’s assume that it takes 10 minutes to get to the midway point in the route. For example, if you are at the Performing Arts Center you can get to Glenwood South in about 10 minutes. The alternative is a 20 minute walk, $5 cab ride, or the guilt of punishing one unlucky rickshaw driver. With the circulator, you can sit down, pay nothing, and are out of the rain/cold/whatever.

The actual route looks very simple and touches on each downtown area. The downtown core is serviced through Wilmington St. with a stop at each block. This is very convenient for each block and the parking decks along the corridor. The route going straight down Glenwood South will probably be slowed by nightlife crowds but this is only a few hours of the week so it should not be changed. I think a stop at Davie and Dawson would make more sense then the stop at Cabarrus and Dawson because there are more businesses on Davie then Cabarrus. It is only one block however so no one should complain. The convention center is serviced beautifully with a stop right at the front door. This will also be extremely convenient for those staying at the Sheraton and the Marriott.

This simple loop should work out very well. Think of it like this; anyone is at least three blocks from a stop at anytime. That is a huge jump in convenience for anyone lurking around downtown. Also, the fact that the city wants to run hybrid buses is another bonus. Every hotel lobby, building lobby, and museum should have route maps to inform people of its existence.

Two thumbs up!

Green buses [UPDATE: 8:31am] This is what the buses could look like, not the actual buses that will be used.

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  1. Actually, two buses will run at all times. At least, that’s what they said at the meeting. They’re buying three, to keep one in reserve.

  2. Again, no vision. Why use these full size, ugly buses. They never fill them, use a half size fuel efficient bus of trolly.

  3. Tony, I think I should have clarified. I pulled that picture off the internet it is not what the buses will actually look like but what they COULD look like. I apologize if I confused anybody.

  4. On your comment about Dawson at Cabarrus–I think that’s a better stop than Davie because it’s the closest point on the route to the Amtrak station. Someone can come to Raleigh on a train, hop on the downtown loop and get off at the Convention Center stop (for Marriott or Sheraton), or one of the other stops for the Clarion or future Hyatt. Also, Cabarrus goes into Boylan Heights, so hopefully that’ll encourage residents to walk to the route and use the bus. Just a thought.

    I wrote the city suggesting they added one at the corner of Morgan and Dawson…that point is the closest to the apartment areas west of downtown. I also suggested one at the corner of Martin and Dawson to provide access to Nash Square as well as the part of the Warehouse District where most of the businesses are located….which probably goes back to your idea about Davie.

    Besides those two missing points, I think it’s a great route. I like how some stops can be used in multiple ways…like the Government City stop will be useful for the upcoming Blount Street Commons, the Seaboard Stop is great for Peace students and the Performing Arts Center stop is convenient for Shaw students. Good thinking, there.

    And yes, they’re definitely going to need two busses to keep the wait time down!

  5. Tony, have you ever had a positive comment to say about anything? It seems you are limited to saying “no vision” about _everything_.

    I think you need to pick a new city to live in. There are obviously no redeeming qualities in Raleigh whatsoever.


  6. ^Oops…in that second paragraph, first sentence, I meant to say corner “of Morgan and GLENWOOD” to serve the apartment areas. Sorry for the typo.

  7. @John:
    Tony is never positive on any site he posts on. I’m glad I’m not the only person who noticed this for once.

  8. […] The city of Raleigh has proposed a “downtown circulator” to move folks between the places to get entertained and the places to get drunk. This deserves the Google Map treatment. [Raleigh Connoisseur] […]

  9. I am a very positive person (and have tried to stay positive about downtown for years), but now very tired of downtown’s politics and lack of creativity – have been here for years – have been a big downtown advocate and attended a number of meetings throughout the years supporting growth and a new vision). Hey John and DPK, I will be the realist, you two can continue to whine. This city has potential to be great, but if we keep hearing “good job” or “that’s so nice” or “at least they are making an effort” from people like the two of you, this city will never understand “pathetic” vs “nice project” vs “GREAT Vision!”

  10. They’re using these buses with the hope that many people will want to ride. They are fuel-efficient, and with federal $$ the city is getting a great deal.
    Additionally, on the off-chance that this route does fail these buses were bought so they could be immmediately inserted into the CAT fleet (unlike a trolley). So whether the circulator route is a success or not the buses will be a valuable addition for public transportation in Raleigh.

  11. DPK, you have no vision. Can’t you see that complaining = being a realist?

    Actually, I’ve lived downtown for 10 years and am excited about all of the recent developments, including this new bus service.

  12. lol :)

    I’m excited too. Although I’ve only lived downtown for about 3 years now, I can’t wait to see it keep growing.

  13. I bet it won’t run late enough. Raleigh has zero in the way of late night buses. Why not use every possible approach to get drunks off the road? Or, from the commerce approach, late night buses will help the nightlife, bars, and restaurants in the area.

  14. Kevin, I’ve read that the proposed time for the bus to end on Thurs, Fri, and Sat is at 2:15 am which will be perfect. Let’s hope they follow through with that.

  15. Tony, just shut up. It’s a frggin’ bus. How much ‘vision’ does a damn BUS route need? You are NEVER positive about anything. I refrain from responding on the comments on blogs anymore because people use repetitive and whiny comments on every possible subject.

    Leo said that that is not an actual photograph of what the circulator will look like so get off your no vision high horse for Christ’s sake.

  16. Leo,

    Great post. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. What are the hours of this route? When will this start? I can’t wait to ride Downtown Raleigh’s P2P!

  17. @ben:
    There’s an article over on the Raleigh Public Record with a few more details if you’d like to check it out.

    “The current plan has the buses running longer hours than on most CAT routes. Monday through Wednesday the route will run from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 7 a.m. through 2:15 a.m. And 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.”

    Hope that helps. :)

  18. @ dpk

    Thank you for the link. I see that the program is funded-am I to assume this is for the purchase of the buses as well as the use of them, or does anyone know if there will be a fee for their use?

    Kudos to the City for going green with the electric hybrid buses.

  19. This is great. I will do my part to get the word out. I hope people find out about it. I don’t mean to sound whiny at all like Tony above, but a more interesting vehicle would definitely draw more attention from the general public. Regardless, this is a great link between areas of downtown that often seem further from each other than they really are.

  20. I think this is fantastic! This will help with parking problems. It’ll also be nice to not have to walk home late at night, especially if I’m alone!

  21. Someone said “they’ll never fill them”. Ha! When it’s cold, it’ll be the next best thing to Raleigh Rescue Mission.

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