Speakers push Wake commissioners on stalled transit plans

Posted June 18, 2012

— Dozens of people at the Wake County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday afternoon wanted to discuss an issue that wasn't even on the agenda – mass transit.

A public discussion on the county's transit plan hasn't occurred since the most recent in-depth draft plan was completed last November.

Since then, Durham approved a half-cent increase to its local sales tax rate to help pay for expanded bus service, commuter rail and light rail in the Triangle. Orange County voters will consider a similar increase in November, but Wake isn't close to putting the issue on the ballot.

"We need to have a public meeting. They need to take this up. We've been waiting for months," said Karen Rindge, executive director of advocacy group WakeUP Wake County. "(Delaying) is not fair to the towns and certainly not fair to Wake County voters."

Speaking on behalf of seven other Wake County mayors, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Garmer Mayor Ronnie Williams and Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles asked the Board of Commissioners on Monday for a public discussion on transit to help them plan for the future.

Commissioner Joe Bryan said he believes it's premature to have a public hearing on a draft plan, and he wants to wait on a more complete plan.

"If we're not going to move forward with it, (it's) not like there's some huge urgency out there," Bryan said. "(By waiting,) we can delve in to make sure it's financially feasible for our community."

The board majority, made up of Republicans, has also indicated that it's not the right time to put transit to a vote in a sluggish economy when there are other bond issues – an possible tax increases – on the horizon.

"At least from my perspective, education is a much higher priority than transit," Bryan said.

Commissioner Erv Portman said he has been pushing for a meeting on transit but hasn't been able to convince his colleagues to move ahead.

"I think the voters will get it right," Portman said. "If they think this is an important issue, they're going to weigh all those priorities. They'll make a decision, and if they decide this isn't something we should be doing, they'll tell us."


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  • Nothing New Jun 19, 2012

    I wiill not vote FOR the additional sales tax. I will not even consider it until DOT tolls all of 540. The ppl in western and sometime in the future Southern Wake will have to pay toll for riding 540 in our area while the North and East ride free. In addition what benifits will Western and Southern Wake gain from the tax and how many years will we have to wait for any services from this tax. It seems to me that the same ppl that ride 540 free have the most to gain from the transportation tax while the Western and Southern parts of Wake continue to pay for improvements that impact Northern, Eastern, Raleigh and parts of Cary the most. Why should we continue to bear the burden of this double taxation with little to no benifit in return?

  • will9 Jun 19, 2012

    "Choo Choo"? Bless you.

  • jjsmith1973 Jun 18, 2012

    Please excuse the typo's. I'm typing from my cell.

  • jjsmith1973 Jun 18, 2012

    I would say that they need to start talking about it now. There needs to be big improvements in what they already have for bigger mass transit to go in place. I have used very effective light rail in u.s. cities, Europe, and Asia. I enjoy taken it and being able to get place fast and easily. Although, Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill has to get together first on what they have. Make a better bus system. Definitely need to put in sidewalks. No one likes walking on the side of a busy roadway no matter what type of transportation you get dropped off of.

  • jjsmith1973 Jun 18, 2012

    Once again, trying to expand anything in the south or "southern state is futile. You will have all the people screaming about taxes and profit. Even though they will complain about traffic and making bigger roads. Also you will hear about how subsidised public transportation is. Even though road project are equally subsidized as well. Why would this state ever want to progress to keep up with population growth other tan fall behind. Buses have little passengers around here because no one can take the buses anywhere. Look at the routes and times. It isn't because people don't want to use it. It is because the Times and routes don't make sense. If they plan on setting up a new public transportation system like the b us system now then I would agree there is no point. Hopefully they would be smarter about it. To this day there are very few stops in the rtp and no sidewalks once dropped off at a stop. Also if you go to south point and don't leave by 9 you won't get back to UNC on the bus

  • ConservativeVoter Jun 18, 2012

    Give them their choo choo.

    It will never break even and the taxpayers will spend a fortune making up the different for the life of the choo choo.

    Seeing that most CATT an TTA buses that you see only have 1 or 2 people on them besides the driver, what makes these people think that people are going to park their car and take the choo choo.