RDU to DTR Bus Connection Proposed by Triangle Transit

Triangle Transit is proposing a couple changes to its routes and one could result in a direct bus ride from downtown Raleigh to RDU airport. The route would also include the Research Triangle Park. (RTP) Try to keep up with all the acronyms.

Currently, the easiest way to get to the airport using Triangle Transit from downtown is to ride route 105 to the Regional Transit Center (RTC) in RTP. Then from there, you transfer to the 747 route and your way to the airport. 747, get it?

The proposal attempts to eliminate the transfer and offer a direct ride from the Moore Square station, up Hillsborough Street to Wade Avenue, and down I-40 to the airport. The route would run Monday through Saturday at these proposed times [broken link]. Check the Google map below for more details about the route and proposed stops.

View RTC – Moore Square via RDU Airport in a larger map

The current schedule of events puts this route and other changes into affect in August 2010. These changes are open for comment so click on over to their site and let them know what you think.

The frequency of trips has me most interested. A 30-35 minute ride from downtown to the airport at 30 minute intervals during the AM and PM rush hours is a nice improvement. Make a note that the bus route stops at each terminal for easy access. The downtown Marriott and Sheraton are only a five or so minute walk away and the Clarion is right on Edenton Street where the route will go. You can’t say its not tempting to spend the $2 one-way ticket for a bus ride to the airport terminals compared to a $20 taxi.

Tracking Buses Online and On Your Phone

Recently, the city has created some online and mobile tracking services for the buses in Capital Area Transit. The best part is that they all have maps associated with them. I love me some maps.

For downtown, this includes the R-Line, which is technically part of CAT and is shown on the CAT tracking page. The Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA) tracks the R-Line on their page as well. Below is the link rundown so update your bookmarks.

DRA live map

DRA live map mobile version

CAT Bus tracking

NCSU Wolfline Tracking

I’m mentioning the Wolfline tracking system because it has been around for years and is still the better service of the few, in my opinion. Take a look at it to see what all the services should work towards becoming one day.

The R-Line mobile site is easy and straight to the point. If you have a smartphone, you can pull up the maps with the location of the buses pinpointed on the route in real time. The bus stops are marked by their appropriate names so finding where you are on the map is easy once you are at an R-Line stop. Streets and their names are also displayed so the map now becomes a personal guide to navigating downtown on your phone. It’s a great start for making the experience of riding a bus slightly easier and puts a system in place that can be easily updated and scaled out as transit in Raleigh grows.

Just Your Average Joe – Triangle Transit Experience

The local and national media is obsessed with the topic of the current gas prices. I do not know about you, but I am overwhelmed by the amount of coverage the price of gas is getting these days. This blog 100% supports the use of other modes of transit in the triangle other then the gas powered automobile. The problem with the triangle, however, is that a reasonable alternative can be very hard to use in this ‘sprawltastic’, car-centric area we live in. However, the rise in gas prices are creating a rise in bus ridership, according to the N&O. Rather then reading about it, I decided to give Triangle Transit a try for my daily work commutes and here are my thoughts and experiences.

Moore Square is the main Raleigh hub for most bus routes

Researching The Route

I live in downtown and work in RTP so I needed to find the bus route to get me out there and back. As an internet junkie, my first path to finding information is almost always the internet so naturally, I went to Triangle Transit’s website for information. The trip planner is horrible and it did not get my route to appear after a couple tries. Maybe you have more patience then I do but I decided to skip this tool and move on to the list of maps and schedules. This was easier for me to find what I needed and “Route 105: RTP to NCSU to Raleigh” was the one I needed to ride. After that, there was an RTP bus circulator that went from the RTP transfer station up to my place of work.

The website offers a simple text schedule, the route brochure as a .pdf file, and a Google map of the route with major and minor stops pinpointed along the way. This is good information for those that want to plan their way. After doing the website research and printing out some documentation, I was all set to ride.


At the start of this new transit experiment, I bought bus tickets and filled my car’s tank completely. The idea was to see how long I could go without paying any more money towards transit. A transit cost for this experiment is gas or a bus ticket and at the start I paid about $95.

A pack of 12 Triangle Transit tickets costs $41 and one ticket will give you unlimited rides per day. That comes out to $3.42 per day if you ride the bus. At the time of this particular visit to the gas station, the cost of regular gasoline was $3.53 a gallon. Assuming my car’s 32 mpg rating on the highway and a DTR/RTP distance of 18 miles (36 both ways), it costs about $3.97 to drive my car to work.

The Ride – Positives

Probably one of the best points of riding the bus is that someone else is doing the driving for you. While riding, you have the time to sleep, read, blog, play games or do anything because you do not have to deal with traffic yourself. I used this time to read more and would watch video podcasts on my ipod, where I could not before because I was paying attention to the road. When someone else is driving, you can focus more attention on another activity and perhaps get work done during your commute. This could be really beneficial to those who love to multi-task.

Cost was another great benefit to riding. Referring back to my numbers above, it is clear that riding the bus is the more cost effective choice. The bus fares are not rising and have been the same throughout this whole gas price hike. The price of gas is much higher then $3.53 today so the cost benefit of riding the bus is only strengthening. I went a full four weeks without paying for another transit cost.

While riding, my car was just sitting around doing nothing. This is great because no gas is being used, no stress or miles is being put on the car, and there is now one less car on I-40 during rush hour traffic. I’m a little bit of an Ecogeek too, so the added fact that I’m not pouring emissions into the air is a bonus.

Triangle Transit’s sleek new look


Time is the biggest negative to this new transit venture. Driving to work on average throughout this experiment would take 25 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes in the evening. Riding the bus was almost three times longer, with rides averaging 1 hour and 15 minutes in the morning and 1 hour and 40 minutes in the evening. This makes a huge difference for someone that is busy and fitting in these huge blocks of time into my schedule was a real hassle. The afternoon ride times were more inconsistent then the morning rides. Even though I was not dealing with traffic, the bus was and heavy traffic on I-40 sometimes pushed my ride home past the two hour mark. If I was driving, I could avoid certain traffic zones where the bus must stay on its route.

During this experience, I learned to tolerate Triangle Transit rather then trust it. The buses were generally not on time, plain and simple. For those interested in catching a bus mid-route, I would recommend showing up 10 minutes before the posted time. If early, buses would stop but would not wait until the posted time to continue the route. There were a few cases of clear driver negligence where requested bus stops were passed. The RTP circulator also needs a makeover. My particular route would go one way in the morning and a completely new one in the afternoon. It may not bother you but I see another layer of confusion in this, more so because it does not at all follow the posted schedule on the Triangle Transit website.

The Verdict

We all have our own opinions. We all live and work in different areas so your particular experience will be different from mine. With that and the experience I just shared I have decided not to continue riding the bus as the time factor is the real kicker for me. The bus is just too slow and it is not worth it to me to ride it for so long. Right now, the gas prices have not been applying enough pressure for me to be a full on committed rider; I have found other ways to save money. Even though I do not ride, I encourage everyone to give Triangle Transit or the other bus services a try. If you have never ridden, it is a completely different experience then you think. Again, RalCon fully supports other means of transit in Raleigh other then cars and I hope one day (in my lifetime) we’ll see a network of trains, streetcars, and buses that can serve everyone. For now, I’ll stick to practicing EcoModder’s 105 Hypermiling and Ecodriving tips.