Why is Chapel Hill Transit conducting this study?

The purpose of the North-South Corridor study is to expand on previous work to identify an alternative that allows more people to travel safely and quickly along the increasingly busy corridor. Other reasons for this study include improving connections with other routes, supporting future development along the corridor, Buses every 4 minutes with  overflowand increasing overall ridership to the UNC campus/hospital as well as connection to the new Carolina North campus. The study represents a significant step towards achieving the goals established by the Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan which calls for improved transit service within the corridor.

The end result of this study is selection of a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) that shows what the local public, transportation planners, and local officials think is the best technology and alignment. The North-South Corridor study is the first step in the federal process for potentially obtaining grant funds to assist with a transportation project. Other steps that will follow are project development, environmental impact studies and documentation, and engineering. Public input will be sought throughout the process.

corridor mapWhat is the North-South Corridor?

The North-South Corridor is approximately 7.3 miles long; its northern terminus is at Eubanks Road and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and its southern terminus is at 15-501 near the Southern Village mixed use development.
The corridor, which runs along the Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. (Historic Airport Road/Hwy 86) South Columbia to US 15-501 South, includes a mix of single family subdivisions, multi-family housing, fire and police facilities, retail establishments, churches and other public/private and university owned areas.

How is the study funded?

The Study is being funded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), with the hope that the project’s construction will be funded in part by the FTA.  Federal funds constitute 80% of the study budget; a local match provides the rest.

What is the study process?

The study will be conducted in four phases:
1. Project Initiation: Vision/Ideas
2. Development and evaluation of preliminary transit alternatives (modes and alignments)

3. Detailed definition and evaluation of alternatives
4. Selection of a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA )

How will the Locally Preferred Alternative be selected?

The graphic below shows how the process works.

D-M Process Diagram hires small

Reading the flow chart from the bottom up, you’ll see that public input is a fundamental source of information, along with existing transit use, projected need, and land use along the corridor.
After hearing from the public, project committees will provide input to the Project Management Team. The Program Management Team will make recommendations to the Chapel Hill Transit Partners, which include CHT, the Town of Chapel Hill, Town of Carrboro, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Chapel Hill Transit Partners will recommend the Locally Preferred Alternative to the Chapel Hill Town Council for adoption. If adopted, the Locally Preferred Alternative will be submitted to Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization (DCHC MPO) for adoption and integration into its 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan.

What kinds of transit modes are being considered?

The NSC Study evaluated six modes, ‘No Build’ (existing system) alternative, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Low and BRT High, streetcar, light rail, and commuter rail modes. The evaluation criteria included Ridership Capacity, Consistency with Local Plans and Policies, Economic Development, Environmental Impacts, Capital Costs, and Community Support as indicated partly by public input gathered on this website, on comment forms, and during public meetings. Evaluation of preliminary transit alternatives found BRT mode as the clear winners. For additional details please refer to Tier 1 Analysis (link).

What is BRT Low and High?

BRT Low is typically characterized by defined stations, traffic signal priority for transit vehicles. It operates in mixed traffic (not dedicated lanes). BRT High operates in a dedicated right-of-way for a majority of its alignment. BRT facilities often include stations with special protected areas, special signage, and a raised curb for easier and more rapid boarding. BRT Low and High features can be combined to create a customized system for the corridor and optimize productivity and cost.

What will be the local share of BRT Investment?

Local capital investment would be between $12 Million and $50 Million. Federal funds would provide $50M – $75M. The benefits of the BRT investment include:

• Project increased ridership up to 50% more
• The travel time saved is more than 8 minutes per day
• Traffic delays would range from a few seconds up to 3 minutes

What happens after the North-South Corridor Study?

The study will be completed in early 2016. The chart below shows major milestones and estimated timeline for each step required by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

NSCStudyproject implementation process


How can I get involved?

The public will be able to gather information, share ideas, and provide input on the project in multiple ways:

  1. Project website,  You’ll find project information, updates, and ways to reach the project staff.
  2. Public meetings: Chapel Hill Transit just finished a round of outreach sessions on Jan. 20 and 21.  But don’t worry, you can view all of the exhibits and handouts, and make comments online.
    1. Jan. 20, 11:00 – 1:00 PM,, UNC Children’s Hospital Lobby
    2. Jan. 20, 4:00-6:00 PM,  Southern Village, near Weaver Street Market
    3. Jan. 21, 11:00-1:00 PM,  UNC campus – Carolina Union West Lounge
  3. Online comments: Submit comments at the Public Meeting or from a laptop or smartphone using links on

How does the study consider pedestrians and bicyclists within the corridor?

The North-South Corridor Study will include analyses of safety considerations, bicycle and pedestrian activities, future development potential, and impacts to existing neighborhoods.  The findings will be documented as appendices in the study documentation for public review.

How is the study connected to other initiatives of the Town (e.g. Chapel Hill 2020)?

One of the six themes that emerged from the Chapel Hill 2020 exercise was “Getting Around” and one of the Major Topics that was presented to the community was Transportation Corridors. The Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan considered transportation corridors and desirable development. As part of the Chapel Hill 2020 exercise, transportation planning presentation addressed greater use of public transit, bicycling, and walking.

This webpage was last updated in July 2016.