Most of the attention this election season has been on the Senate, the Governor’s mansion and the White House but there is one issue on the ballot that is closer to home. At the polls, voters will get to make a decision on Wake County’s funding source for an expansion of mass transit.
If you had to sum up the benefits of passing the public transportation referendum in just one word what would it be?
I voted for the public transportation referendum and I’m pleased to share the reasons I support it. I hope you will join me.
My wife and I have been privileged to raise our family in Raleigh over the last 35 years. I have had the good fortune to build a business here during those years. We love the fact that Raleigh has become a dynamic southern city in a county that attracts many new residents and businesses from a variety of locations. Numbers back up what we’ve experienced: Wake County was recently named the second fastest-growing county in the United States.
With all that exciting growth comes some challenges and opportunities. Providing modern mass transit for our region is at the top of that list. Transit is not just important for a handful of people. It affects businesses, residents, and visitors. In a thriving business climate, transit options are a priority for all employers and their associates. For continued growth, as we attract new businesses and serve the ones who are here, mass transit is critical. Quality of life for those of us who live here and those who visit will be impacted in positive ways with a well-functioning transit system, as well. Improved quality of life is one of the best drivers of a local economy.
At the end of the ballot, after you’ve voted for the president, the vice president, governor, judges and more, you’ll find one sentence that an entire transit plan for Wake County hinges on. The ballot referendum asks voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase to fund the $2.3 billion plan that enhances and expands bus service countywide, develops a robust, frequent network, upgrades the experience and implements a commuter rail system connecting the Triangle area.
“The average cost is $2.75 a month, the cost of a cup of coffee,” says District 1 County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson. However, the tax would generate $70 to $80 million a year to implement the plan and cover 48 percent of the costs.
Wake County has seen tremendous growth recently and our towns are often cited as some of the best places to live and do business in the country. Over 64 people move to Wake County every day and as mayors on opposite sides of Wake County, we know the challenges of traffic and transportation that come with growth.
We want to see this growth continue for years to come and that’s why we’re supporting the public transportation referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The public transportation referendum is the final step in implementing a bipartisan plan that’s been developed through hundreds of listening sessions, thousands of comments and a year-long planning process. Wake County residents and representatives from local universities, hospitals, businesses, every Wake County municipality, civic groups and the Wake County Public School System have all contributed to this plan.
Many of Wake County’s one million-plus residents don’t drive because they are elderly, too young, have a disability or can’t afford a car.
As a millennial who has a disability, I rely on public transportation to get to work, the grocery store, community events, parks, the doctor and more. Transit provides an essential service for providing mobility, access and opportunity to jobs and community connection.
Having moved to Wake County from New York City, transit is the one area that keeps me wondering if I made the right decision to relocate.
Wake County voters will decide this fall if they want to raise local sales taxes by a half-cent to help pay for a $2.3 billion plan that expands public bus and train services.
That question will be the last item on the ballot for voters heading to the polls already during early voting or on Election Day, Nov. 8.
Among the new transit options that are part of the Wake County Transit plan are a 37-mile commuter rail linking Raleigh and other parts of Wake County with Research Triangle Park and Durham. The plan would also expand bus routes to Wake County towns not currently served by public transportation and increased frequency of existing bus routes.
Wake County voters are being asked to fund a transit plan that supporters say will improve connectivity and ease traffic across the Triangle, one of the fastest-growing areas in America.The back of the ballot asks Wake voters whether they’re willing to raise the sales tax rate by a half-cent to fund the Wake Transit Plan, a 10-year, $2.3 billion project that calls for commuter rail between Garner and Durham and stronger bus service throughout the county. “We’re really behind the eight ball with our transit needs,” said developer John Kane, who served on the 78-member advisory council that came up with the plan. “I think we came up with a plan that’s within a budget that will work, has very good coverage and goes places where ridership will be high.”
I moved to the Triangle from London. What brought me here were the wonderful people, jobs and low cost of living. Wake County checks all the boxes for a great place to live except one – public transportation.
Raleigh is cheaper than Boston, New York or D.C., but I don’t need to own a car in those cities. I’ve still got student loans, health insurance, rent and bills to pay. Adding car payments, insurance, gas and maintenance is a huge blow. Transportation is the average American’s second largest household expense, with cars costing around $9,000 per year to own and operate.
Local officials are looking to the future and that means figuring out a way to deal with expected traffic issues over the next 25 years.
The Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster (RTCC) teamed up with the Regional Transportation Alliance (RTA) to explore and compare ways to improve transportation in the Triangle. In the next two decades, research shows the RTP region alone is expected to grow by 72 percent.