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Wake commissioners consider outside advice on transit plan

Posted September 3, 2013

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— The Wake County Board of Commissioners will talk Tuesday about ways to improve the county's transit system, including an option that would create an independent panel of experts to advise the board on the best path forward. 

Tuesday's meeting is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

The ongoing debate about how best to serve the county's growing population has centered recently on whether or not to build a light rail system similar to what Charlotte offers its commuters. 

Proponents of light rail say it could help Wake County roadways deal with huge growth expected in the next 10 to 20 years. Others have questioned a light rail's efficiency because of Wake County's "sprawled metropolitan area."

Wake Up Wake County, a transit advocacy group, says they have been waiting about two years for county commissioners to publicly discuss the issue.

"The current Wake County plan, the first phase is just bus and commuter rail," Karen Rindge said. "But the light rail is certainly the vision for the future." 

Commission Chairman Joe Bryan said the board's goal is to address the issue this year. The possible creation on an independent transportation panel could help leaders make sure they're heading down the right track. Commissioner Paul Coble suggested the formation of the independent panel during the board's Aug. 19 meeting. 

"This is making a decision for the long-term," Bryan said. "Let's make sure we get it right."

Rindge said the current draft plan, which includes a light-rail system stretching from Cary Parkway up Capital Boulevard into north Raleigh, needs to be reviewed fully.

"How much more money are we going to spend?" Rindge said. "How much more time are we going to spend? Triangle Transit looked at this and provided input, and they even hired local consultants to look at bus and rail needs."

Recently, the Regional Transportation Alliance, a group that serves as the business voice for transportation initiatives across the Triangle, took a position saying the current draft plan for Wake County is not the most effective or viable option. 

"You have got to have a good plan to start with before you can go to the public and say, 'Are you willing to support it?'"

John Pucher, a professor in the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Jersey, said in March that the county is not suited for a light rail system.

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  • ConservativeVoter Sep 3, 2013

    Seeing that the TTA buses are underutilized, what makes the TTA think people will use light rail.

  • westernwake1 Sep 3, 2013

    As outlined in the federal government's response to the Triangle area's earlier request for a light rail grant - The Triangle area does not have the necessary population density to support a light rail system. Not now and not 20 years from now.

    It would be a waste of money to build a light rail system when you can't even get utilization out of your local bus system (The TTA averages one passenger per trip).

  • KStewart2 Sep 3, 2013

    dmccall, I'm not talking about rail or light-rail. I'm talking about smart growth. The 5 county area to this day has no smart growth plans, let alone regulations.

  • dmccall Sep 3, 2013

    @KStewart2, that conversation died because leaders of this area didn't want to plunge ourselves into the massive fiscal bloodletting that rail transit systems are. Now even Chapel Hill Transit has admitted that they can't tax people enough to float their free-to-ride bus system. They are going to sell ads on the bus exteriors to defray costs.

    What we need in 2050 hasn't been invented yet. Save now and spend money on the _right_ people-moving technology for the future, not technology that is over a century old.

  • spoonman Sep 3, 2013

    The horse and buggy will never go out of style!

  • KStewart2 Sep 3, 2013

    Talking about transit now is like finally getting around to painting a 30 year old deck. Where was this foresight and lack of planning long ago? Let's start talking about what we'll need in 2050 while we are at it.

  • Not_So_Dumb Sep 3, 2013

    cxbrame - the problem is, who is going to pay for all the companies to relocate so we can have centralized development? There are at least half-a-dozen major employment areas in the triangle. Add in the current residence areas and the number of options are far too many for mass transit to ever see broad use. We don't have an old city center and we don't have a natural barrier like a river or coast that funnels in traffic. I don't see why people insist on ignoring the objective evidence in that report just because they would rather ride a train than drive.

  • mothar1 Sep 3, 2013

    It takes me an hour and a half to take the bus from Holly Springs, via Waverly Place in Cary TTA route, to NCSU. TTA and NCSU bus not correlated. Now I drive.

  • meeper Sep 3, 2013

    The Orange, Wake and Durham County liberals never met a tax that they didn't like. Mass transit will be a miserable failure. It always is. The taxpayers, automobile owners, and homeowners will bare the expenses of this. It's the only way to keep it running financially.

  • cxbrame Sep 3, 2013

    "There is. It's called a car. Your example is in line with what the report found - the Triangle has too few centralized areas of employment and/or residence for mass transit to work well."

    That is why better organization of transportation options is needed. Quality of life just can't be maintained going about things the way we have. And decentralized development in the present doesn't have to continue to be the status quo.

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