Raleigh Leaders Assess Bus Access at Shopping Centers
Posted July 10, 2007 1:41 p.m. EDT
Updated July 10, 2007 10:29 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — City officials plan to meet this month with representatives for two shopping centers that refuse access to city buses.
Brier Creek Commons and the Towne North Shopping centers don't allow Capital Area Transit buses onto their property. Towne North managers cite safety concerns, while Brier Creek officials maintain their parking lots don't have enough room to accommodate buses.
But Mayor Charles Meeker and other city officials said Tuesday that providing bus riders access to the shopping centers is a matter of fairness.
"Like many Raleigh residents, I am upset, of course, that people who come in buses aren't being treated the same as people who come in cars are," Meeker said.
The mayor recently asked the city's transit authority, planning department and attorney's office to examine the bus access issue, saying Raleigh residents shouldn't be required to ride by car to shop at local stores.
According to a report from the city Planning Commission, Towne North and two other shopping centers that refuse access to city buses – Bent Tree Plaza and Brennan Station – were built before the city secured transit access at planned developments.
The Brier Creek developer wrote a letter to the city in 2001promising "to accommodate reasonable future access needs on the Brier Creek Commons site."
Representatives with Brier Creek Commons declined to comment on the issue.
Officials said Tuesday that they aren't concerned about the access issue at Bent Tree and Brennan Station. Bent Tree doesn't have the ridership to support a bus route, and another bus route provides access near Brennan Station, officials said.
Meanwhile, reports from the Raleigh Planning Department indicate Towne North's safety concerns aren't reflected in any serious incidents involving pedestrians.
Meeker stopped short Tuesday of calling the lack of bus access a racial issue. He said he hopes to reach an informal agreement with the shopping centers rather than have the City Council take action against them.
"There certainly has been a lot of history with buses, and we're hoping bus access will be very good. We want to make sure bus access goes everywhere throughout the city," he said. "It is a symbolic issue in that we treat all of our citizens fairly. We've spent tens of millions of dollars on our roads. Also, not just those riding cars should be allowed to have full access to roads and where they go."