With the rollout of regional transit plans in our area, we can see that Wake County plans 20 miles of bus rapid transit (BRT) routes. Here in Orange County, we have an 8 mile BRT route planned in additional to a proposed 18 mile light rail line connecting Durham and Chapel Hill. Should we deploy BRT as the anchor of our transit network and replace the Durham Orange Light Rail line with BRT?
First, a bit about BRT. It takes many of the things that make riding light rail transit (LRT) attractive, but uses diesel buses in dedicated exclusive roadways instead of electric rail cars on tracks. A true BRT system has stations with shelters and raised platforms like LRT. Fares are paid in advance to speed loading and buses come at regular intervals. Most importantly, a true BRT system has its own exclusive roadway. If the bus is stuck in the same traffic with cars, it’s not really “gold standard” BRT. It’s just a bus.
On Thursday, January 19th, 2017, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education is poised to enact a policy to ensure a living wage for all full-time employees of the school district, welcome news that has the school district joining the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill in having living wage policies. The living wage floor will be set at the new living wage for the county of $13.15/hour.
Frustratingly, as a result of the horrible and far-reaching House Bill 2, no entitity, including our school board, can require that contractors pay a living wage to their employees. This is a significant problem in our school district, as noted in the abstact for this policy, because a large number of positions (predominately janitorial and child nutrition staff - notoriously low paying positions already and filled largely by people of color) have been shifted to contractors.
In case you missed it, the Town of Chapel Hill launched an open data portal this past summer, joining several other local area Triangle governments who have made strides in releasing government data to the public in an easily consumable fashion. Data sets range from fire incidents to library circulation to budget data, and hopefully we'll see more added over time. Even if you're new to working with data, the portal includes some basic charting and map-building functionality that are simple enough that almost anyone can use them.
This Saturday, the town is hosting an event to bring together interested parties to figure out what kinds of interesting things can be done with the data, explore, and build something cool. I'll be there and I hope you will too.
The latest column in the Chapel Hill News by OrangePolitics Editor Molly De Marco asks whether mobile homes should be a part of the affordable housing solution in Orange County. What do you think? Read the column below:
Are mobile homes the (partial) answer to affordable housing in Orange County? Or maybe a better question, should mobile homes be part of the affordable-housing solution in our communities?
I emailed the Orange County Board of Commissioners a letter supporting the light rail connecting Orange and Durham Counties and am posting that letter publicly below.
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