It wasn't a bad morning to head to Raleigh to do some research at the state archives. A quick DATA bus ride downtown to the Durham Station transit center, then a walk across the sweet pedestrian bridge over Chapel Hill Street to catch the TTA rail line. Then it was on the light rail system for a quiet ride past downtown and East Durham, before the ride along the rail corridor through RTP, Cary, the NC State area and finally downtown Raleigh.
And an enjoyable trip it was, having time to catch up on the morning newspaper while typing away on the laptop. The train was clean and well-traveled, with a mix of daily commuters and families making their way along the region.
Most impressive: the Triangle Metro Center, where office and retail space is really filling up in what's now being called the modern heart of RTP as light rail has created a new dense center between the cities.
...wait, I'm totally kidding. We don't have a stinkin' rail system here.
Yes, the scenario above is what many dreamed of in the Triangle, worked for for years. And at the end of the 1990s, it was widely thought that Durhamites and Raleighites would be shuttling along a rail system well-established by the time 2010 rolled around.
But a funny thing happened on the way to a rail system. The project got shot down after the Federal Transit Administration changed the rules for federal New Starts funding just as the Triangle Transit plan was about to be evaluated.
A few years later, transit supporters have regrouped, creating the STAC plan for a mix of rail and bus service in the Triangle.
But there's plenty of reasons to believe that the core concept of the 2000s plan for transit -- a direct-connection run built out between North Raleigh and Duke via Cary, RTP and Durham -- will end up being replaced by a set of regional transit systems that might just link up, someday... and leaving RTP last when it comes to the kind of dense, transit-oriented development the Park needs most.