RALEIGH, N.C. — Officials with the
Triangle Transit Authority
want to see a full-service rail system in place by 2008. But a study from a California think-tank said the Triangle area is too spread out and too dependent on cars to draw enough commuter rail riders.
suggests the TTA's planned route would be best served with more roads and better bus service.
TTA officials said the rail line is designed for the future and that, over time, the new train system will boost ridership and economic development. However, some state lawmakers disagree with the TTA's assessment.
"It's a train that goes nowhere," said Rep. Russell Capps, R-Wake County. "People won't ride a train that goes nowhere except for just fun once in awhile, and it won't work that way."
Capps said the system would only work in certain places.
"It would only work in places like Washington and New York," Capps said. "All over the country, we are seeing rail systems fail."
Thayne Conrad, who is running against Capps in the July 20 primary, said he believes the TTA should continue to research the rail-system idea.
"We need to be forward thinking about growth and traffic issues, and now is the time to be proactive with user-friendly and economically feasible projects," Conrad said. "It's unfortunate that some do not have the forthright vision to see that our area is growing rapidly and some day will suffer from the same traffic problems as other large cities."
TTA officials said they do not mind the critics looking down the tracks.
"It makes us a better agency really," said Don Carnell, of the TTA. "It allows us to focus in on some of those areas that we may not be that strong at. We're not a silver bullet. We're not going to solve all the issues for every citizen that lives in the three counties."
TTA officials are still looking for $840 million in funding for the rail system. If all goes well, they hope to start construction on the new rail line by the end of the year.