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Majority of Wake mayors support transit plan

Posted November 21, 2008

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— Most Wake County mayors are in favor of a regional transit plan to add buses and light rail. Raleigh's Charles Meeker is pitching a plan that would expand bus routes and add light rail to ease travel among the county's 12 communities. 

"There are many people coming to this area who want the option of public transportation, not just having to rely on cars all the time," Meeker said Friday.

The Special Transit Advisory Commission (STAC), a citizen advisory group, spent a year developing the proposal. It calls for 75 new buses for express service between municipalities and a light rail line stretching 17 miles from Spring Forest station in Raleigh through downtown and into Cary.

Meeker favors funding the plan through a half-cent sales tax increase and higher vehicle registration fees. He has the support of eight other mayors in the county. Three are not sold on raising the $700 million to $800 million that light rail would require.

"No study I have ever seen about light rail in the Triangle area is something commuters want or will use," Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly argued.

Light rail plans have failed before in the Triangle. In 2005, the Triangle Transit Authority scrapped a plan for regional rail after federal funding fell through.

Any plan financed by taxes would have to be put to the voters. Mayors in Wake County plan to get public feedback on the transit plan in January or February. They would then ask the Legislature to put the proposal on the ballot as soon as next fall.

STAC co-chairman George Cianciolo said local funding has to be in place before the state or federal governments will step in. "The federal and state authorities want to see that the local people are committed and believe in it," he said.

24 Comments

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  • ahblid Nov 26, 2008

    To D1_Standing,

    If Salt Lake City, Utah population of 178,000 can find enough people to ride their 3 light rail lines, I'm sure that Raleigh population of 356,000+, an amount that's double Salt Lake's can find enough people to ride light rail.

    And Salt Lake has recently broken ground on 4 more light rail lines, already has one commuter line in operation, for which they also just broke ground on to extend the commuter line. They can’t build new lines fast enough out there.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Nov 21, 2008

    The existing buses are on an average 80% empty on most routes. What makes Meeker and the other Socialists in Meekerville think that adding more buses and light rail will increase usage of mass transit.

    Just another excuse for Meeker and the Socialist City Council of Meekerville to increase taxes and waste it on things that people don't want. The white elephant convention center is a classic example of this.

    Spend the money on roads where it's needed.

    Also, what happened to the money the TTA collected from increase car registration fees for building light rail in the triangle.

    Use the TTA's light rail money before you raise taxes to fund a mass transit system that nobody wants.

  • d1_standing Nov 21, 2008

    When will the triangle learn that railways best serve areas that have an urban core. The triangle unfortunately does not have an anchor city large enough to support an endeavor that will no doubt cost billions. Charlotte's rail service is solely operated in Charlotte, a city that has well over 500,000 people. A 11 mile stretch of railway lines in Charlotte has cost well over $1 billion when it was intended to cost far less.

  • frayedknot Nov 21, 2008

    Why is going to the airport such an important thing for a transit system? People going to the airport have LUGGAGE. Who wants to carry luggage on a bus/train? I wouldn't. The daily trips between home and work are what need to be covered by mass transit.

  • butterpie Nov 21, 2008

    We really need to stop subsidizing and encouraging all the cars on the road. If we don't come up with or move on a mass transit plan NOW, we're really going to feel the effects in 10 years. All the plans mentioned have merits and flaws. Too bad we can't stop complaining and decide to work together.

  • A_Patriot Nov 21, 2008

    I'm against this farce, but I can't help but consider it as a problem to solve.

    Any rail system must star out of RTP to RDU and to transfer points in Raleigh, Cary, Durham and Chapel Hill (throw Apex and maybe Holly Springs in there, too). Once those routes and traffic are established, then spread out from the transfer points (via intra-city rail, buses, park/ride, etc).

    If I could take a bus to the Raleigh transfer point, and take the train to RDU, I'd be all for it. I echo others' comments that question how Wake County mayors can support a light rail system in Raleigh. It doesn't make sense.

  • Fun Nov 21, 2008

    The buses now running are 80% or more EMPTY. Trade each BIG buses for 4 smaller van/buses powered by CNG (compressed natural gas) More routes, more timely schedules. There you have it...sensible mass transit. But no monument for Mayor to run on for higher office or pump up his ego, just more common sense is what we need, and less Meeker.

  • ohmygosh Nov 21, 2008

    More awakenings than dracula. Both try and suck the blood out of you.

  • StarGazerNC Nov 21, 2008

    Well, I live in Cary, and I support the plan. And yes, some additional funds will be needed for such an ambitious plan.

    There are many citizens who badly need increased access to transit in the Triangle. As the population ages, there will be more people needing an alternative to driving a car.

    The time for transit is now, as the development period is very long, and if we wait, it will be too late. Like when we have $4 a gallon gas (or higher cost gas) again?

  • ricrdu Nov 21, 2008

    The only mass transit system which would have enough riders to even closely cover costs, based on density of potential users at the source and destinations in this area, is the bus. The bus allows the flexibility to change routes, add stops and schedules based on evolving usage patterns, something that cannot be done with tracks.
    A light rail train would never be approved to stop at RDU due to the fact that "Parking Revenue" is the greatest source of income to the RDU authority.

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