Poll: More than half of voters support mass transit

Posted March 25, 2009

— More than half of voters recently surveyed said they are in support of mass transit in the Triangle, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Regional Transportation Alliance.

More than 60 percent of 1,006 registered voters in Durham, Orange and Wake counties said they support light rail, buses or a combination of the two, along with dedicated lanes for circulators in downtown areas.

The transportation alliance, which focuses on ways to relieve traffic congestion in an effort to promote strong business in the area, reported more than 50 percent of the participants said they would vote for a half-cent local option sales tax to improve public transportation in the Triangle.

"Triangle voters support all modes of transit, and they would be far more likely to vote for sales taxes than additional property taxes to expand transit options for our rapidly growing region, said Joe Milazzo, the alliance's executive director.

Participants also identified travel to Research Triangle Park as their highest priority.

A regional transit plan, which could be in place by 2035, is under consideration by local leaders and includes an enhanced bus network throughout the Triangle. Part of that is express service to and from Raleigh-Durham International Airport and rush-hour-only bus service to outlying communities.

Another recommendation is "circulators" – initially buses and possibly later on streetcars or trolleys – in downtown areas with a system of park-and-ride lots.

Rail service from Chapel Hill to north Raleigh utilizing diesel rail cars and Light Rail Transit would provide transportation alternatives in some of the most congested corridors of the Triangle.

Fifty percent of funding for a regional system would come from local governments and 25 percent each from the state and federal governments. The local portion would come from a proposed half-cent sales tax increase and a $10 increase in vehicle registration fees.

The poll, conducted March 7 to 11 by Fallon Research, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.08 percentage points.


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  • fuquay Mar 27, 2009

    We have to start talking about it now if it is going to be here in 10 to 20 years. It will take at least 10 year to build and staff. Think about how the traffic will be by then. The triangle hasn't planned for the growth we have now, they need to start thinking about the future some. Look at the ridership numbers now, ridership on regional buses is up more than 50%. People are using the buses, there just aren't enough. I would be more than happy to use them if they came to southern wake county.

  • TheLibertine Mar 26, 2009

    Total waste of money! Minneapolis can tell you all about the failure of its mass transit system.

    Check out this article from Reason magazine:

  • whatusay Mar 25, 2009

    Will have to put two police officers on each train to deter the gang members. Be sure to include their salaries in the project projection.

  • flashlight Mar 25, 2009

    The idea is to create infrastructure for density that will be here. I can see the comments section here in 20 years...

    Why didn't they plan for all this growth with more modes of transportation?!

  • RLW Mar 25, 2009

    Someone asked "why the topic keeps coming up". It keeps coming up because as the car traffic keeps increasing, the Triangle will end up out of air quality conformity. Thus will not be able to add any new project to the municipal transportation plan. Many of the projects would be federally funded...thus our area would be able to add any new federally funded projects to the plan. This means even more limits on funds available for road construction.

    In regards to ContinuityMan's comment....I would rather be paying back debt on money spent here than paying back debt spent in Iraq. for new schools in North Carolina and keep folks employed here for build new schools in Baghdad and keep them employed and educated. Something to consider.

  • Southern Fried Yankee Mar 25, 2009

    Two points.

    1. The 60% that think mass transit is a peachy idea should all use the current mass transit exclusively. That way congestion will ease, ridership will rise, cash will flow, and MORE mass transit would make sense.

    2. When the bus is as convenient as my car, I'll think about using it. Until then, I see incentive to the whole idea.

  • WRALblows Mar 25, 2009

    "Finish 540, and widen I40 and we have another 20 years at least before we have to worry about traffic."

    Did you miss the article about Raleigh and Cary now being the fastest growing metropolitan area in the US? I've been here for 30 years. Find some other people with my tenure and let's have a discussion about exponential growth. 20 years ago Six Forks Road was two lanes total and 540 didn't exist, now it's a dangerous burden getting on to I-40 from it.

  • WRALblows Mar 25, 2009

    "These choo-choo train people NEVER give up!" - PaulRevere

    I say we name the first engine Paul Revere at the coronation. In celebration of our tenacity.

  • freddie cadetti 72 Mar 25, 2009

    Half the poll was taken in the quadrant of South, Morgan, Wilmington, and East Streets. The other half was taken in the quadrant affectionately known as Durham/Chapel Hill

  • haggis basher Mar 25, 2009

    Over time a train would become indispensable as new businesses and homes gravitate to being nearer stations but that would take many years and do nothing for all the places that it could not go.
    Traffic in the Triangle is simply not that bad. certainly not bad enough anyone is going to willing give up their warm comfortable car for a multi stage journey in buses and trains.
    Finish 540, and widen I40 and we have another 20 years at least before we have to worry about traffic.