North Carolina’s Multimodal Stations
By Walter R. Turner
N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation Historian

During the past three decades, North Carolina has grown from a rural to an urban
state. To accommodate the resulting change in the needs of its population, the North
Carolina Department of Transportation has collaborated with local and federal
governments to develop urban transportation centers for the state’s citizens. These
centers serve as connecting points for the routes of buses, passenger trains, and other
modes of transportation. Completed centers, known as “multimodal stations,” have been
established in Wilson, Rocky Mount, High Point, and Greensboro. Other cities in North
Carolina are planning such centers. This paper will examine the current status of
planning, implementation, and future prospects for multimodal stations in the state’s

Fully understanding this development requires a historical review of the state’s
mass transit efforts. In the state’s electric streetcar era (1890s-1930s), passengers were
transported from railroad stations to downtowns, neighborhoods, and
entertainment/recreation parks.1 During the 1920s-World War II era, increased intercity
travel turned railroad stations and bus stations into major transportation centers.
However, passenger rail traffic declined after World War II, as did intercity bus
operations a few years later, while travel via automobiles and aircraft escalated. In 1970,
Congress passed the Rail Passenger Service Act, which created the National Railroad
Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) to save passenger rail travel. During the 1980s and
1990s, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) developed strong rail
and public transportation divisions. These divisions provided consultation and funding to
help local communities transition from private to public city bus systems, establish rural
van and bus programs, and support revival of passenger and freight rail travel.  
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