Wake County Transit Investment Strategy
Transit Choices for our Community
After several years of efforts to advance a bold vision for improved and expanded public transit, Wake County is moving ahead with a new planning process: the Wake County Transit Investment Strategy, i.e. a transit plan to connect and enhance Wake and the Triangle!
In December 2014, Wake County and several key stakeholders (including Go Triangle, RTP, NCSU, Raleigh, Cary, RDU Airport, WakeUP Wake County, and the Regional Transportation Alliance) launched a new process to take a fresh look at important transit choices for Wake, and are involving the public in this process.
This new process is being led by county staff along with two consulting firms: nationally known Jarrett Walker and Associates, and locally based Kimley-Horn and Associates.
These consultants and stakeholders are guiding public discussion to help develop strong goals for a Wake County transit system with the intent of having a new finalized transit plan in early December of 2015.
Making Choices: Ridership vs. Coverage
One of the most important factors in this discussion is that as a community with limited funding options, we must make choices about the goals of our future transit plan. The consultants are guiding this conversation, but the people of Wake County will tell them what we want in a transit system. This will include making some tough decisions. For example:
Do we want a frequent service that only serves heavy traffic corridors but has lots of riders? Or do we want a system that covers more area but has less frequent service and may not be as heavily used?
Your Voice Matters Now!
Public discussion of transit officially began in December 2014, and the final plan will be released in December 2015. There will still be opportunities to SpeakUP and give input on the plan after it is released!
If you would like to have a presentation on the Wake transit scenarios presented to a group or business, please contact Jennifer Dean at email@example.com.
From top left: Bonner Gaylord, Raleigh City Councilman/General Manager of North Hills | Michael J. Munn, President of the John R. McAdams Co. | Karen Rindge, Executive Director of WakeUP Wake County | Asa Fleming, Realtor for Coldwell Banker Advantage | Sheila H. Ogle, Owner of Ogle Enterprises, LLC | Matt Calabria, Wake County Commissioner | Courtney A. Crowder, Principal of Crowder Consulting Co.
You may be wondering what type of transit technology we’ll end up with, and how it will be paid for. The Transit Advisory Committee, guided by the consultants, voted to not consider light rail as part of this 10 year plan, but instead has indicated interest in regular bus, bus rapid transit, and commuter rail (built in the existing rail corridor). The plan is expected to quadruple bus service in Wake County, as well as plan for commuter rail that would connect to Durham.
Funding decisions will be made locally. The new plan is designed within fiscal constraints of the money that would be raised through a 1/2 cent sales tax and vehicle registration fee increase. This 1/2 cent sales tax would generate at least $69 million (for 2015) and is projected to grow by 4% annually. It would be supplemented by a $10 increase in vehicle registration fees, state and federal funding.
“I live in Garner, and I rely on transit to get to downtown Raleigh and other places for jobs because I don’t own a car. Personally if I were able to catch a bus at a reasonable time, I would be able to work a 9-6 schedule and have more time with my son. Doubling of the buses would be tremendous for the economy. I love the idea of commuter rail. It makes me excited to know that I could get on a train and get somewhere in a few minutes.”
– Alphonso Dailey
Wake County is Behind Other Counties
Durham and Orange County leaders and voters have already taken decisive action to advance bus and rail transit in their counties. In 2011, Durham voters approved a half-cent sales tax ballot, followed by Orange County approval in 2012. These counties are already collecting sales tax for transit and are expanding their bus systems and are beginning planning for light rail between Chapel Hill and Durham. Meanwhile, Wake has not acted on transit for years, and is perhaps being left behind. This new process is a key step forward!
Next Steps for the Plan
During November 2015 county staff and planners will be taking all of the feedback thus far and incorporating it into one final plan, to reveal to the public on December 8th. More public input will be sought after it is released. Then the Wake Board of Commissioners must hold a public hearing on a plan proposal, vote to approve a plan, and vote to put a referendum for funding on the ballot. This referendum will most likely be in November 2016.
In order for these elected officials to put the referendum on the ballot, they need to know that the public supports the plan. Let your local Wake County Commissioners, Mayors and City Councilors know that transit is important to our future!