Durham-Orange Friends of Transit forming: buses/light rail

I got this on one of the many e-mail lists I am on:

The Durham Orange Friends of Transit website is live!!!   Check it out:  http://www.durhamorangefriendsoftransit.org/If you have not already done so please go to the site and register.  Also, many of you have sent me names of folks who have a interest in transit.  Please e-mail them and give them the site address and ask them to sign up.  Our next step is to have an organizational meeting.  I would suggest that at the meeting we will want to invite all the folks that you have identified.  At the meeting, hopefully folks will self-select to join the steering committee based on their availability to work on this issue.    If any one has any suggestions on where and when on the meeting or would like to help with meeting planning, let me know.   As you know, the legislation for the sales tax referendum is working its way through the Senate.  (Please e-mail our senators and ask for support)  Capital Area Friends is interested in a press conference after the passage to create public support.  They have asked us to participate.  We need to select participants that represent a broad range of interests in Orange and Durham.  Please let me have your thoughts on some candidates to represent us at the press conference.Even before our organizational meeting we need to be reaching out to the public.  We have been giving speeches to civic groups and have been generating power point productions and other materials.  We need to consolidate that material so that any of us could use the materials to give a speech to their local civic group, church or other group.  We need to form a speakers bureau.  We need to identify groups to meet with.  If you would like to help with this let me know.  If you know someone who can help with this, send me their name.It is time to rock and roll !!!ThanksBoRobert "Bo" Glenn3000 Montgomery StreetDurham, NC 27705Home: 919-493-0522Cell: 919-623-6551boglenn@nc.rr.com

The legislation passed the State House last week by  77-40 and 75-40 margins. The basic scope of the plans call for rapid expansion of bus service after a referendum, followed by a light-rail line from UNC Hospital thru Durham to North Raleigh (I-540 at Durant Road terminus). Chapel Hill stops after the Dogwood Deck area would probably be Smith Center, 54 East, Meadowmont, and probably two more stops before crossing into Durham County near I-40 and Blue Cross.


Looks like there have started to be sign-ups of supporthttp://www.durhamorangefriendsoftransit.org/civicleader_signatories.phphttp://www.durhamorangefriendsoftransit.org/individual_signatories.phpand an organizational meeting may be scheduled soon

There are obvously many reasons to support transit.  One of the benefits of transit, often thought to be of less significance in our area, is the potential for improved air quality.
The just released American Lung Association "State of the Air 2009"
http://www.stateoftheair.org/shows both Durham and Wake Counties with "F" ratings for High Ozone and
Durham with a "C" rating and Wake with a "F" rating for Particle Polution.  Although Orange did well (A) for Particle Polution (lack of heavy industry, perhaps?) it wasn't graded for High Ozone.  I think we can assume, with both Durham and Wake failing in this category, that we are probably failing as well.  It's just another important reason (health and welfare)  we need to begin getting people out
of their single occupant motor vehicles.

OP readers who support transit, please click through to the website and sign-on in support of this effort!  It is quick and easy - no registration required.

The North Carolina General Assembly gave final approval to comprehensive transit legislation tonight, sending it to Governer Perdue for her expected approval later this month. The bill will authorize Wake, Durham and Orange Counties, (with the approval of the three county boards of commissioners and the Triangle Transit Board) to place a 1/2% sales tax referendum on the ballot, most likely in May or November of 2010.  The legislation also authorizes Triangle Transit to raise its registration fee by $3 (with the approval of all three county boards of commissioners), and authorizes each of Wake, Durham, and Orange County to separately levy (with county commissioner approval) a $7 vehicle registration fee for public transit. This total funding package exactly parallels a three-county Special Transit Advisory Commission recommendation last year for a 1/2% sales tax  ($72 million annually) and a $10 vehicle registration fee, ($10 million annually) but the bill also authorizes a special district tax in RTP to raise about $4.3 million per year to focus on RTP/Airport service. The RTP tenants and owners association has already approved authorization for this funding.The proposal, if approved, is likely to lead to an early and rapid expansion of bus service in the Triangle, coupled with a Light rail line that will start behind the Dogwood Deck at UNC Hospitals, (with a Smith Center stop), along Fordham Blvd with stops at the new 54 East and Meadowmont projects, across I-40 near Blue Cross,  and run to Downtown Durham, through RTP, NCSU, Downtown Raleigh, and end just north of I-540 at Durant Road in North Raleigh.Other counties such as Johnston, Chatham and Alamance are also authorized by the bill for the $7 vehicle registration fee and a 1/4% sales tax, all earmarked for public transit.  The vehicle fee will likely be able to fund a substantial expansion of regional bus service from surrounding counties, such as the new Pittsboro/Chapel Hill xpress. Truly a forward thinking and comprehensive set of goals.   

So glad to regional transit really moving forward. It's gonna happen!

"So glad to regional transit really moving forward. It's gonna happen!"We certainly are making progress but we still have a long way to go.  The next step is for the counties involved to let their citizens vote to tax themselves in order to pay for the increased transit.  Obviously, in these tough economic times it will take courage on the part of our elected officials to put this before the citizens for a vote, it will take strength and foresight on the part of the citizens to tax themselves for service that, in some cases willl be years off, and it will take creativity and skill on the part of the administrators to make this happen in the most cost-effective way possible.  I am greatly encouraged by a poll taken after the recession began in which citizens expressed (by a 2 to 1 margin) a willingness to tax themselves to build regional transit in spite of the tough economy.  We are fortunate to live in an area where people understand the importance of regional transit for the future growth, vitality, and livability of this region. 

People need to promote the big picture here, especially the fact that public transit need not totally pay for itself in order to have net benefits.  It's a message thing.  Let's call it transit reform instead of public transit, or something like that... The oft-used example is the airlines:  taxes pay for airports and without airports we would not have an airline industry.  It's subsidized, yet it creates lot's of benefits, including jobs for people who then pay taxes so we can have airports and other things.  Roads also are not a zero-sum endeavor either...gasoline taxes might pay for roads and road maintenance, but the public also supports the highway systems in other ways by paying taxes in support of fire protection, emergency services, policing of the roads, and so on. 

If you are interested in reading the bill, it is here:http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/House/PDF/H148v5.pdfthe fiscal note showing revenues under the bill is here:http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/FiscalNotes/House/PDF/HFN0148v4n1.pdf


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