Commission Unveils Draft Plan for Regional Transit System

Posted February 29, 2008
Updated March 1, 2008

— The 29-member Special Transit Advisory Commission on Friday unveiled its draft plan for a multibillion-dollar regional transit system that would involve commuter rail, buses and 55 miles of asphalt.

Connecting Chapel Hill to Durham would be a light rail.

A diesel rail would link Durham through Research Triangle Park, Cary and downtown Raleigh up to north Raleigh along U.S. Highway 1.

And a connector from RTP to Raleigh-Durham International Airport would possibly be a street car or trolley.

"The whole process would take probably until 2035 to get on the ground," said Bo Glenn, STAC's co-chairman.

After creating a regional transit authority made up of elected officials, the first step would be to improve local and regional bus service.

STAC's draft plan will next go to local transportation leaders for consideration. Committee members said their job is not only to create worthwhile transit projects, but also to make sure the benefits of those projects are communicated to the public.

"It's all about marketing," committee member Michael Shiflett said. "Most people are concerned about the environment. Most people are worried about how much they spend on gasoline, insurance costs. I think there's something in mass transit for everyone, whether they believe it or not."

Committee members said that belief is crucial, because without public support, the regional transit plan will not happen.

A half-cent sales-tax increase would be the primary source of funding for the price tag of $2 billion. Other proposed methods of funding include tax-increment financing districts, increased vehicle registration fees, a regional fuel tax, vehicle-mileage taxes, and turnpikes or express toll lanes.

STAC expects the federal government to cover about 25 percent of the bill.

"Local funding is critical," Glenn said. "We can't get state or federal funding without local funding. So, yes, the local officials will have to agree to put this on the ballot."

The committee is still working on the final proposal. It expects it to be ready in April.


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  • foetine Mar 3, 2008

    Who needs Mass transit in Raleigh? Aren't they building enough massive condos downtown so that people can merely walk to work? And what about North Hills - people can walk from their $500 condo to their office and to the Harris Teeter and movie theater? Seems like this whole rail line is another scam from the Duke Hospital to get freebies for their ads - "We have a train!"

    And enough with the half penny sales tax. How many different panels want to slap half a penny on my purchases? We don't needs a stinkin' choochoo train in the triangle. We just need more mall/office/condo monstrosities. And if Sen Dole shafted us on this project last time, why will she care when this comes to her pen in a non-election year?

  • iamforjustice Mar 3, 2008

    lol...the point is mass transit needs to be built now to handle future traffic. Don't wait until 100 years to build something that should have been implemented 200 years ago.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Mar 3, 2008

    The people of the area don't want mass transit. Spend the money on the roads where it will do some good instead of wasting more money on mass transit.

    Most CAT and TTA buses only have 2 or 3 passengers on them. If people aren't using the existing mass transit, why do our leaders believe that if you waste more money on mass transit, people will use it. If it wasn't for public funding, CAT and TTA would lose money. Neither CAT or TTA is self sufficient.

    I pay for my car and it's expense without government funding. Why should I be expected to pay more sales taxes to fund mass transit that I and almost everybody in the Triangle doesn't use.

    Our elected officials are misguided in their efforts to force everybody to use mass transit.

    The Triangle isn't dense enough to support mass transit like Manhatten in New York City does.

    The problem that we have is that a group of people from NYC now think that everybody in the Triangle should live in a high rise downtown and use transit.