1950–1960​ 2001 ​​2010
1980 2003 2011
1989 2006 ​​2012
1991–1992 2007 ​​2013
1997–1998 2008 ​​2014
2000 2009


The City of Raleigh Capital Area Transit (CAT) service begins operations.  Services build on and in some areas take over routes previously operated by power companies or private firms.  Routes and services are added over the years in response to development and demand.  The majority of operating funds are provided by the City of Raleigh.



North Carolina State University Transit (Wolfline) service begins operations.  Service is expanded as University grows in geography and student enrollment.  Service is focused on moving students in and around University Campuses.  The majority of operating funds are provided by transportation fee paid by students. 

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NC Legislature enabled the creation of Triangle Transit as a regional public transportation authority serving Durham, Orange and Wake counties. The new unit of local government was chartered by the NC Secretary of State on December 1, 1989.



Triangle Transit is given the authority by the NC Legislature and the approval of each County Board to levy a vehicle registration fee at $5.00 per vehicle.  Regional bus operations, vanpooling program and planning program start utilizing this money.  Drivers are employees of Triangle Transit.



Triangle Transit is given the authority by the NC Legislature and the approval by each County Board levy a 5% tax on rental car fees. The Triangle Transit Board of Trustees votes to dedicate this funding source for rail planning and development. The majority of this money is saved for a future federal match.



Town of Cary Transit (C-Tran) service begins operations as a door to door service for senior citizens and the disabled.  In 2002, the Town opened up service to the general public to qualify for FTA funds to offset expenses.  In 2005, the Town began operating fixed route transit service and limited the Door to Door services to seniors and disabled citizens.  The Town identified and has always utilized a turn-key contract with a private transit vendor as the lowest cost method of meeting service goals.  The majority of operating funds are provided by the Town of Cary.



Wake County Transportation and Rural Access (TRACS) begins providing service to the residents of the non-urbanized areas of the County.  Service is operated by geographic zone, includes voucher programs for shared rides and Door to Door van trips.  Operating funds are provided by State programs aimed at rural access trips where there are no other options.  Additional state operating funds also support shared rides with elderly, disabled and employment related trip purposes.  Several Wake County municipalities also provide funding.  All operations are contracted to a private transit vendor.


Area transit providers enter into joint branding and customer information program (GO Triangle).  Unified call center, website and branding logo is followed up with real-time vehicle location devices and compatible fare collection systems.

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FTA announces that they have concerns about the proposed DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit i.e. a faster stopping heavy rail train that can share freight rail tracks) line proposed between Raleigh and Durham and Triangle Transit withdraws funding requests. Until this point Triangle Transit had been using money for engineering and to acquire key ROW areas (Dillon Warehouse, Rail ROW from Seaboard Station to Capital) and was in the later stages of design.



Triangle Transit's Board of Trustees votes to allocate 50% of the rental sales tax money for transit operations and reserve the remainder for rail planning.




  • NCDOT Rail announces plans the boost service rail service from Raleigh to Charlotte to four trains each way per day. This announcement sparks the "express rail" concept where local trains could be added to the state plan to provide cheap and frequent service between Raleigh and Durham.


  • Local agencies work with NC Legislature and local elected officials to draft Legislation allowing a local 1/2 cent sales tax, a county vehicle registration fee, and an increase in the regional vehicle registration fee.  Comments from County Commissioners are focused on ensuring that each County Board has control of when taxes are implemented and ensuring that money from one county is not spent on service in another county.  Local agencies begins financial modeling that shows how transit could be funded if all proposed funding sources are enacted. 

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  • Triangle Transit's Board of Trustees approves funding for 3 alternative analysis studies in three corridors in the region:  1) Between Durham to Chapel Hill, 2) Between Garner and Durham.  3) Between North Raleigh to Cary.


  • State NC legislature approves HB 148 that allows local option sales tax, county vehicle registration fee, and increase regional vehicle registration fee.


  • County Staff engage in transit planning based on the need for a County Transit Financial Plan and Board of Commissioner action on potential revenue sources. Commissioners set a clear expectation that a financial plan will be linked to a detailed service plan. Commissioners also note that each Wake municipality must agree with the service plan and agree to the tax sources.


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  • Triangle Transit's General Manager and the Wake County Manager present a concept of how planning for transit will work to each municipal board.  These municipal boards are informed that they will be asked to sign an ILA (interlocal agreement) agreeing to the tax sources and service plan.


  • CAMPO and the City of Raleigh fund a 2040 bus plan detailing bus service expansion. Staff members from all Wake County municipalities are included in the development of this plan. The base assumption within the Triangle Transit model of 60 new buses over the life of the plan increases to 120 buses in early years and more in later years.


  • Wake County Staff construct a new financial model to predict how revenues and spending will work. This model looks at funding consistent with Wake County accepted norms.


  • Wake County Staff pin the sales tax growth in the model to the growth expected in the Wake County Budget. The growth rate at the time is around 2% per year. Many are concerned that this rate is not realistic (too low) if the area continues to grow as expected. Wake County staff have developed a trend line based on past years. Wake County Budget Staff for fiscal year 2015 have adjusted the growth rate assumption to 4%.


  • Wake County Staff meet with each of the Wake County Municipal Managers to discuss issues including: bus service expectations, concerns about funding fairness, willingness to spend local money on transit, and overall support for transit investment.


  • Municipal Staff develop the concept of a "small town buyout" using county vehicle registration fees to level the playing field for all communities except for Cary and Raleigh. Based on policies enacted over the years some municipalities are currently required to provide a local match for commuter services while other services for others are funded 100% by regional fees. The basis for this local investment policy was that communities would be more concerned about policies that encourage ridership if they invested local money.


  • Wake County Staff develop the concepts of a "Core" and "Enhanced" plan based on concerns about federal funding at the height of the recession. The Core plan presents an option to invest in transit using only local money and Federal and State formula funds. The Enhanced plan shows what could be done if Federal New Starts funds and a matching state grant were awarded.

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  • A group of municipal mayors and elected officials meet to develop a plan based on the Durham-Wake Alternative Analysis, the Wake County Alternative Analysis and the 2040 bus plan. County Commissioners are present at some of the meetings, raising some concerns, but do not influence the group’s decisions. The group establishes a framework for a plan that is bus heavy but funds the light rail and commuter rail. The framework includes the "small town buyout" concept as well as the "Core" and "Enhanced" concept.


  • Wake County Staff develops a draft plan based on the framework established by the Mayor’s group and present the plan concept to the Board of Commissioners at a work session. The Board of Commissioners take no action but reiterate the position that all municipalities must support the plan and tax sources necessary to support it.

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  • Triangle Transit's General Manager and the Wake County Manager present the draft plan to each municipal board. Each municipal board is again informed that they will be asked to sign an ILA (interlocal agreement) agreeing to the tax sources and service plan. 


  • The Wake County Board of Commissioners releases a list of questions about the draft Wake County Transit Plan.  Many of the questions request general clarification, however some focus on concerns about the technical and financial feasibility of the plan.  By reference, the Board of Commissioner questions letter also includes a list of questions about the plan submitted by the Chamber of Commerce based business group the RTA (Regional Transportation Alliance). These questions also suggest concerns about technical and financial feasibility. Wake County, CAMPO and Triangle Transit Staff respond in writing to the both the Board of Commissioner questions and the RTA questions.


  • The 2012 Draft Wake County Plan is updated to address unclear aspects. The framework of the plan developed by the Mayor's group is left unchanged.


  • The Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Executive Board approves the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (CAMPO 2040 MTP).  This plan incorporates projects from the Draft Wake County Transit Plan but based implementation schedule on federal horizon years to allow further community discussion on transit investment..   

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  • NC Legislature implements changes NCDOT Strategic Prioritization process and funding policy in a way that impacts and limits public transportation funding.  NCDOT will evaluate the need for changes to this policy every two years.  Some large transit projects have been shown to be completive for funding using current policies and metrics.


  • The Wake County Board of Commissioners convened a Transit Panel of three recognized national transit experts. The panel members noted that in their opinion the framework of the draft Wake County Plan was flawed and there were likely better ways for the area to invest.


  • The Chamber of Commerce based business group the RTA (Regional Transportation Alliance) developed a position paper rejecting the framework of the draft Wake County Plan.  The group recommended that BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) options be developed for multiple corridors to provide a comparison of investment costs and benefits.


  • The Chair of Triangle Transit's Board of Trustees asked that the Draft Wake County Plan be "refreshed" based on the age of the plan.

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  • The Urban Land Institute (ULI) invites another national transit expert to comment on the Draft Wake County Transit Plan and the status of national and international transit investment.  This expert noted concerns with the amount of resources focused on light rail and the lack of service vision (i.e. how will investment provide better access).


  • Transit providers in Wake County (Triangle Transit, CAT and C-Tran) raise fares to cover increased costs, service expansion and vehicle purchases.


  • Wake County Board of Commissioners agrees on what new information and next steps need to be taken prior to considering county-wide funding sources.

  • The Wake County Board of Commissioners establishes a goal to "support community discussion and development of transit strategies that evaluate investment alternatives, feasibility and governance." 

  • Wake County, City of Raleigh, Capital Area MPO, Town of Cary, Research Triangle Foundation, RDU Airport, NC State University and Triangle Transit partner to create an appropriate transit investment strategy for the county.

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