Transit campaign set to kick off soon

With the passage of House Bill 148 by the 2009 General Assembly, authorizing a referendum on a sales tax increase in Wake, Durham, and Orange Counties (fiscal details here) to fund a regional rail system and a rapid increase in bus service, supporters turn next to a potential referendum campaign in 2010 or 2011. See the proposed regional map here.  (click header or "read more" to see remainder of post)

Similar to Mecklenburg's 1/2% sales tax referendum that led to the first part of their light rail system opening in 2007 (with extensions being engineered), the Triangle plan currently calls for a light rail system running from UNC Hospitals to Durant Road in North Raleigh, via downtown Durham, RTP, NCSU, and downtown Raleigh. Plans also include later extensions to Wake Forest and Apex. Prior to getting started on the actual rail construction, funding for expanded intra and inter city bus service will be available for all three counties, with bus expansions concentrated on Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Cary, Durham and Raleigh and connections between them, as well as more expresss bus service from outlying areas. The RTP has been authorized to levy a special tax district property tax supplement to fund connections between RTP, the regional rail line, and RDU airport. Light rail stops in southern Orange County are currently designed to include UNC Hospitals, Smith Center/South Campus, 54 East (in the transit corridor dedicated by 54 East developer Roger Perry, Meadowmont, and two or three more stops before crossing I-40 about 100 yards east of 15-501. The route will then parallel 15-501 to downtown Durham.

The referendum has to be authorized now by the three county board of commissioners. The legislation allows four potential referendum dates the next two years -- May or November of 2010, or October or November of 2011.  Wake Up Wake County has already begun organizing for the next stage, holding a well attended forum last year, with its spin off Capital Area Friends of Transit .

Southern Orange went through several referenda in the 1970s to authorize transit -- a 10 cent property tax was defeated in Chapel Hill and Carrboro in 1971 (losing in Chapel Hill by less than 10 votes as I recall), then approved by Chapel Hill voters in 1974 and finally in Carrboro by the voters in 1976 or 1977,

Now, Durham Orange Friends of Transit (DO Transit) is about to get off the ground. A kickoff meeting is tentatively set for a location between Durham and Chapel Hill for Wednesday evening, November 4 (fittingly, as soon as possible after the current elections are over). If you want to get involved in that campaign, sign the petition on the DO Transit website, contact Bo Glenn and/or post here. More details will be posted about the November 4 kickoff for the Durham/Orange organizing efforts.

To sign the petition statement below, select one of the three choices

I am a :

excerpt from statement of support: 

OUR STATEMENT OF SUPPORT:

"Durham-Orange Friends of Transit (DO Transit) recognizes that transit is essential to maintain a high quality of life for all by providing convenient, accessible and affordable transportation choices that improve job and economic growth, and protect the environment. We support a comprehensive regional transit system which creates efficient travel options and supports sustainable land use patterns that will help our metropolitan area continue to grow and prosper while preserving our quality of life.

"We support implementation of the recommended vision of the Special Transit Advisory Commission (STAC), as incorporated into the Long Range Transportation Plans of the Triangle's two Metropolitan Planning Organizations and urge development of specific, local plans including, but not limited to:.

  • expanded local and regional bus service;
  • circulators for the major population and activity centers;
  • express service to the Airport from major metropolitan areas;
  • light rail transit (LRT) from North Raleigh to Chapel Hill; 
  • park and ride lots connected by the transit network; and
  • enhanced transit access for pedestrians and cyclists.

.....

Issues: 

Total votes: 185

Comments

This is another important step along the way to secure funding, from both federal and local sources, to meet the urgent need for new transit service and infrastructure in the Triangle. It should be noted that the rail line that is already operating in Charlotte is very popular. An attempt to repeal the local sales tax component that helps fund it was defeated. That was in November of 2007, I believe. A referendum to rescind the tax was voted down by about seventy per cent!This is a good precedent. How often do we hear about voters overwhelmingly saying they do not want a tax reduction? Once the benefits of transit are tangible, popular support can become overwhelming.James Coley

Help! must get off I40 , can't hold on much longerrrrrrrr

Today is International Car-Free Day! (By the way, it is also the first day of Autumn. Well, the equinox is this evening at 5:18, anyway.)There have been Car-Free Day celebrations here in the area in past years, but there is not one this year. I believe the Town of Chapel Hill has officially recognized it this year, though. And I would expect that Carrboro did, too.Here are a couple of relevant links. In Montreal, they do it right! A section of the downtown has been blocked off to cars for much of the day. 

Link to World CarFree Network

Link to article about Montreal

James Coley

Come join us to build a grass roots organization for transit, Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 6:45 PM until at the Eno River UU Fellowship, 4907 Garrett Road in Durham (off 15-501)http://www.eruuf.org/contact-us/directions-and-parkingDurham-Orange Friends of Transit (DO Transit) is building public support and political will in Orange and Durham Counties for a forward-looking regional transit plan that is convenient, accessible and affordable with expanded local and regional bus service to many communities in the Triangle connected by a system of circulators to our major educational, medical and business centers anchored by light rail connecting the major cities in the Triangle. A three county referendum may occur in 2010 or 2011.With the passage of new enabling legislation for a dedicated source of funding for transit, we have an historic opportunity for citizen input in planning for transit for the next 25 years. On November 4, 2009, we will have some of the best minds in transit to answer our questions and brief us on the transit legislation and the status of transit planning in the Triangle. We also will hear the concerns from advocates for affordable housing, bike/ped, seniors, the environment, business, TOD developers and others.For more information, please contact dotransit@durhamorangefriendsoftransit.orghttp://www.durhamorangefriendsoftransit.orgAGENDA6:45 Information Stations:Regional Growth: The Link to TransitJohn Hodges-Copple,Regional Planning Director, Triangle J Council of GovernmentsWhat Was The STAC? Process & ConclusionsGeorge Cianciolo,Co-Chair Special Transportation Advisory CommissionHolly Reid, Special Transportation Advisory Commission Member; Walkable HillsboroughState Transit Legislation: A New OpportunityDamien Graham,Government Relations Manager Triangle TransitGerry Cohen,Director of Bill Drafting NC General AssemblyTransit Plans & the 2035 Long Range Transportation PlansPatrick McDonough, Senior Transportation Planner Triangle TransitMark Ahrendsen, Transportation Manager, City of Durham; Chair, Technical Coordinating Committee DCHC MPO7:30 WelcomeBo Glenn, Co-Vice Chair Special Transportation Advisory Commission7:35 Need, Benefits, Risks, Challenges of Doing NothingJohn Hodges-Copple, TJCOG RegionalPlanning Director7:45 Legislative UpdateDamien Graham, Triangle Transit Government Relations Manager7:50 Orange County WelcomeAlice Gordon, Orange County Board of Commissioners7:55 Durham WelcomeMike Woodard, Durham City Council; Chair of DCHC MPO TransportationAdvisory Committee8:00 Community VoicesWhy transit is important to you? Speak up: share your ideas: add yourvoice to these community group representativesMaryAnn Black, Research Triangle Regional PartnershipAndrew Holton, Emerging Tar Heel LeadersDan Clever, Triangle Rails to TrailsJulie McClintock, Neighborhoods for Responsible GrowthFred Foster,Durham NAACPRoger Perry, Triangle TomorrowKevin Foy, Mayor Town of Chapel HillLorisa Seibel, Durham Affordable Housing CoalitionDavid Harris, Durham People’s AllianceGail Souare, Durham Council for Senior Citizens8:15 Small Group Discussions8:30 Report Back8:45 Closing CommentsFAST FACTSThe Proposed Regional Transit Vision Plan•51 miles of light rail stretchingfrom North Raleigh to Cary, the Research Triangle Park, Durham and Chapel Hill •A major expansion of busservice in Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill,Durham, Raleigh and along Triangle Transit routes•Increased express servicefrom outlying communities such as Hillsborough and Mebane

I just noted that Gene Pease signed up a few days ago as a member of the Durham Orange Friends of Transit Facebook fan group, along with others like Fred Black, James Barrett, Jake Gellar-Goad, Jason Baker, Mark Chilton, George C, Ruby, and Aaron Nelson. Maybe this will be an effort that will be not only be progressive and visionary but help close up some of the wounds from the campaigns. 

Gerry,Thanks for getting this posted.  I couldn't get it formatted correctly before running off to attend some functions last night.  I hope some people from this Board will consider attending.  It is important that citizens of Orange County get involved now if they really are interested in seeing regional transit extended to our neck of the woods. 

Over 90 people attended the Durham Orange Friends of Transit organizational meeting in Durham tonight including a number of OP posters like Rickie White and GeorgeC. There was lots of energy with people wanting to get involved in the transit planning and organizing for the 2010 or 2011 referendum.

I was with you all in spirit. I look forward to hearing more about what we can do to show support for this effort.

I wish I could have been there, but my kids needed me to take a night off. 

Seriously.  Imagine if this event had not been the day after the election!  I am looking forward to working on this.

There will be more general meetings -- the next one should be in Orange County. November 4 was picked for the first meeting based on organizers and presenters schedules and NOT having it before the election, but starting immediately thereafter. Oh, Jason Baker was also there last night.

Ed Harrison
I'd like to get a Chapel Hill Transit Caucus going, to springboard us out of this meeting.  I'd appreciate it if anybody reading the message would let me know if they attended last night. The crowd was big enough that I may have missed seeing a few.  The meeting was full of optimism and clear thinking. We have a long haul ahead, and both those are needed in abundance. Ed  

As Mr. Word Person, I'd ask are you speaking of the "Chapel Hill" transit caucus, or the "Chapel Hill Transit" caucus.  While I never lived in Carrboro, (with apologies to Alaska) I used to be able to see Carrboro from my window (when I lived at Village West)

Mister Word Person Gerry Cohen's question deserves a response. I did mean a "Chapel HIll" transit caucus" in order to ensure total support from whomever is on the Council when this ever goes to a vote. However, a "Chapel HIll Transit Caucus" makes even more sense. This is because the revenues we could realize would benefit CHT as well as current and future regional service.  As I mentioned in one of the 300 candidate forums this past silly season (oh, was it only 17? could've fooled me), I can see Durham from my house. And when I look the other direction, I can see the Chapel Hill Transit bus roar by on the way to Downtown CH and Carrboro.   

Ed,I'm pretty sure you knew I was there, but I'll reply anyway :)I do want to stay on top of this.  It is extremely important.  Count me in! -Bryn

I'd prefer a "Chapel Hill/Carrboro" caucus, but definitely count me in.  I'm noticing that al the plans stop at UNC Hospitals, so in addition to helping push for the transit tax, I'd like to find a way to ensure that alternatives presented for routing include a downtown Chapel Hill/Carrboro stop, even if it means running the light rail on the road for a bit...  seems a bit silly to have a light rail system without a stop in the most densely populated town in North Carolina.

 

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