Member Briefing: September 27, 2019

Here is a brief weekly update from the RTA business coalition — the voice of the regional business community on transportation.

Hyperloop is returning to North Carolina
Less than three months ago, the regional business community welcomed several members of the Virgin Hyperloop One team to the Research Triangle, as the focus of our annual RTA breakfast event. Next month, VHO team members return to the Triange  – this time with their CEO, Jay Walder, and with the current version of the hyperloop test pod. The pod will be at the annual Triangle J Council of Governments Regional Summit on October 10 – RTA is the lead sponsor of the transportation track for the event – and then the pod will head to the Frontier at Research Triangle Park on October 11th.  RTA and some key partners will have a few minutes to meet with the CEO and learn more about his plans for Virgin Hyperloop One, his thoughts on advancing hyperloop in America and how our region might engage. We look forward to the conversation and next steps for mobility.

RDU aces its first test as a large airport
We all know that RDU has been growing – more flights, more destinations – even more offerings for travelers in the terminals. It turns out that RDU is now considered a “large” airport – at least according to J.D. Power and Associates in their annual passenger satisfaction survey. RDU is now considered “large” due to our passenger count; for perspective, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are considered medium airports. RDU ranked 5th in terms of passenger satisfaction among the dozens of large airports. In comments to the Triangle Business Journal on the ranking, I noted that the Power study confirms “what the business community has seen over the past several years – we have an excellent growing airport”  – and that it “highlights the urgency for identifying solutions for needed infrastructure.” RTA has formed a task force to look at the issue of sustainable funding for the airport and we had an excellent first meeting earlier this week. We look forward to a successful autumn working on solutions for RDU.

The state of surface transportation funding
We have previously spoken about the significant challenges with funding surface transportation in this state, with cash balances substantially depleted for a variety of reasons, including welcome project acceleration, required settlements, and untimely storms. While there isn’t a silver bullet to the problem, we are pleased that the NC Chamber has launched a new “NC Can’t Afford to Stop” coalition to focus on the issue, which RTA has joined. To complement those efforts, RTA is launching a task force to dive into the results of a recent McKinsey study of NCDOT cash management and related practicesA group of lead RTA volunteers will gather, review the McKinsey report, and compile observations and recommendations over the next several weeks in support of the NC Chamber coalition and NCDOT’s efforts to successfully resolve the cash management issue.

Thank you for your leadership on regional mobility through the RTA!

Let’s get moving,


Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director

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