Raleigh, N.C. — A week after Atlanta residents voted down a sales tax increase to fund mass transit projects in the congested city, Raleigh City Council members met Monday to discuss transportation needs in the Capital City.
City Council members said Atlanta's experience shows the importance of getting the public on board with local transit plans, including the proposed Union Station downtown.
The $75 million station is planned for the old Dillon Viaduct Building on West Martin Street and would provide a hub for Amtrak passenger trains, local, regional and interstate buses and eventually commuter and light rail services for the Triangle.
The Wake County Board of Commissioners has said it won't put a half-cent sales tax to generate money for transit projects on the ballot for area voters, but Raleigh officials said they are moving forward with Union Station and other projects they see as necessary.
"Every day, I hear the concerns – the lead time, the drop-off time, the crowds on the bus, not enough buses in the area," Councilman Eugene Weeks said. "(Transit) is a big concern."
The city is trying to deal with each area of congestion individually, but the council decided to budget for a permanent transportation planner for a more universal approach.
"I think the big question for transportation people is, 'Where is everybody going?'" Mayor Nancy McFarlane said. "If you just put a bus route in, does that really solve people's issues, because you have to figure, is everyone getting on the Beltline to go to Brier Creek (or) to downtown? It's a small part of bigger picture."
"The key is going to be how much it costs and where we spend it," Councilman John Odom said. "I hope we don't get too stretched out into a big picture where we can't do some small things that we need to do inside the city limits."