Erin Crouse's blog

Park and Ride Fees: Disincentivizing Transit Use?

Tonight, the Chapel Hill Town Council is expected to enact fees on users of their park and ride lots. This fee is in response to UNC’s decision to start charging at their own park and ride lots. Leaving Town-owned park and ride lots free would create a traffic nightmare, so the Town is trying to start their own permit program. I’m sure that the extra revenue that will be generated from this fee is also a consideration, especially in a tight budget year.

While most people (75% by CHT estimates) who use the park and ride lots are affiliated with UNC, there is a sizable minority who do not use the park and ride to travel to campus. UNC students and employees will pay for their permit through UNC (because of taxing and payroll deduction issues), and that money will then be given to the Town. Non-affiliated users will purchase their permits directly from the Town. The resolution being considered tonight sets the fee at $250/year, or about $1/weekday.

I understand the importance of implementing the fee, but there are two major issues that have not been addressed:

The Future of Chapel Hill's Parks and Greenways

Next Monday (February 18th), the Chapel Hill Town Council is holding a public hearing on two major planning documents for our town: the Parks and Greenways master plans. As chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, I can tell you that this day has been long in coming. Work on these plans began over two years ago, but staff was asked to wait until after the completion of the Chapel Hill 2020 visioning document to submit them for approval, so the plans could be as unified in their language as possible. When adopted, they will be considered part of the Town's comprehensive plan.

As Chapel Hill continues to grow (with a projected population of 70K by 2025), there is a need to conserve the open space the town has left, create better connectivity for non-vehicular transportation, and provide venues for citizens to engage in active, healthy lifestyles. Also, in most of the assessments that Town has done in the past few years, citizens have rated  trails and recreation opportunities as one of the Town's biggest needs. With these goals in mind, the two master plans recommend the following:

Parks master plan recommendations:
  • $12

11 vying for the Rich seat: an introduction to the applicants

Filing has now closed for Penny Rich’s vacated Town Council seat. There will be a special public hearing January 14th where the applicants will be allowed to speak. The Council will consider making an appointment to fill the vacancy on January 23rd.

There are 11 applicants to the seat. I believe that this applicant pool is more diverse than in past appointment processes. There are 4 women, one student, one Latino candidate, one African-American applicant, one candidate who identifies (per her voter registration record) as multiracial, and a Republican. Below is a brief introduction (in alphabetical order) to each candidate:

Sally Greene- Sally is a former Council member, having served from 2003-2011. She did not run for reelection because of job commitments, but has a new job now that will allow her the time to serve again. She has written about her candidacy here on OP. In that thread, there is also a copy of the resolution Council passed honoring Sally when she stepped down, which details her accomplishments as a Council member.

Loren Hintz-

Half-Cent Sales Tax for Transit on November Ballot

Read OP's live coverage of Tuesday's meeting of the county commissioners.

It's budget season! Here's OP's livetweeting of the County Commissioner's May 22nd budget hearing.



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