​In September 2013, the Board of Commissioners authorized the County Manager to establish a panel of independent transit experts to advise the board on approaches to developing strategies for Wake County.

The panel of experts has been finalized and includes:

  • Steven E. Polzin, Ph.D., P.E. – Transit Research Program Director, Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida
  • Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. – Managing Director, DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University and Senior Research Fellow at Reason Foundation
  • Clarence “Cal” Marsella – Former General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) from 1995 to 2009; currently an independent contractor

A special work session was held for the Board of Commissioners and the transit panel.

Work Session Time:  November 12, 2013, 9 a.m. to noon

Work Session Location: Marbles Kids Museum, Zanzibar Room

Work Session Agenda

Steven E. Polzin's Slides

Samuel R. Staley's Slides

Cal Marsella's Slides

Wake County Staff Notes from Session with the Board of Commissioners (Morning)

Wake County Staff Notes from Session with Transit Partners (Afternoon)

Panelist Expectations:  The Transit Panel members reviewed existing transit and transportation documents produced by various agencies in County and in the Triangle region. The panelists compared the data from our area with other areas with which they are familiar, to provide insight into how to assess transit in our area. The panelists did not review all materials in depth and only made higher-level critiques of the solutions in the draft Wake County Transit Plan. The panelists have been asked by the Board of Commissioners to avoid recommendations on specific transit technology.

Work Session Format: The Transit Panel responded to the Wake County Board of Commissioners requests, and there was conversation between the Transit Panel and the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

Open to the Public:  The Work Session was be open to the public.

Work Session Request:
The Wake County Board of Commissioners asked the panel members to conduct limited review and research on transit in our community and then come to Raleigh for a work session.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners asked the panel members to consider the following:

  1. Consider and respond to the transit questions related to feasibility, financing and governance (questions are below).
  2. Review and consider the growth characteristics and demographics for Wake County and the region.
  3. Review existing documentation, work products and draft plans in Wake County.
  4. Offer, without recommending a transit solution(s), an assessment/observation and recommendation for:

a. Criteria and metrics for evaluating the feasibility (merits and costs/benefits) of different transit strategies.
b. Best practices to finance different transit strategies.
c. Best practices and governance models for county-wide and regional transit systems/strategies.
d. Any other advice for the Board of Commissioners as they develop and consider different transit strategies as well as consider a plan for Wake County citizens.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners asked the panel members to address the following questions:


  1. How would Wake County benefit from a comprehensive transit solution and why?
  2. Considering existing legacy system, how could any benefit be measured?
    a) Ridership metrics
    b) Decrease traffic count measured
    c) Infrastructure reuse or concentration
  3. What transit models have other best of class system employed
    a) Provide best of class comparables in the U.S.A.
    b) Which examples of systems are most comparable to this situation
    c) Discuss the benefits/issues of Inter-County and Intra County
  4. How is Ridership projected?
    a) What % of population needs to participate
    b) What is range of increase/decrease in ridership?
    c) What ridership growth curve should we assume and why
  5. Are there viable private sector alternatives and if so describe
  6. What potential transit corridors are most viable? And in doing so address:
    a) Jurisdiction of each
    b) Responsibility of maintenance
    c) Likelihood of execution (%)
  7. What modes of transit should be considered and why (Include Rail; enhanced bus and other)
  8. Do unserved or smaller communities benefit and how is that quantified?
  9. What are the top five impacts a robust transit plan has on neighborhoods (positive/negative)
  10. What are the "sustainable" arguments for and against transit


  1. What are the most accepted models for financing and what are the key components?
  2. What is the standard for the percentage of revenue covered by the fare box?
  3. What are the other revenue sources that are available to cover the shortfall?
  4. Can revenue collection be improved and if so how and what are the implications of such?
  5. What are the top three expenses that need to be monitored; range of variances; and why.
  6. What is the appropriate budgetary size (%) of a transit system vis-a-vis a (county) budget?
  7. How is the distribution of tax proceeds balanced?
  8. What are the financial models that should be considered by the municipalities (which insures that any new transit model is accretive and is neither a substitute nor redundant to the existing system.
  9. If public money is used, and there is a change in the NC tax system, what is the range of impacts?
  10. How have other communities budgetarily confirmed that existing service is maintained?


  1. What is industry model for best of class governance role of Transit
  2. What are the key governance roles the County would need to include in transit oversight
    a) Key Decisions
    b) Financial
    c) Other
  3. What is the spectrum of governance roles the TTA could play?
  4. If TTA is involved what areas should be focus of the County Commissioners
    a) Structure of TTA
    b) Representation
    c) Financial Oversight
    d) Service Guaranty
    e) Other
  5. Role, if any, County Commissioners should play in oversight of transit friendly roads /infrastructure

What materials did the panel members review?
The panel members have conducted similar analysis in other areas and have regular sources they use. In addition, Wake County staff provided the following materials: