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June 09, 2011


Rob Gillespie

I'm wondering if any County Commissioners have commented on the City Council's decision to ask to hold off the transit tax referendum until Wake and Orange decide to go ahead as well.

Orange and Wake have both already said they're not going to punch that dance card this Fall. Orange is obviously scared after seeing the economic development and schools sales tax shot down last Fall. And Wake's a whole different animal.

Personally, I don't see Wake voting yes on a transit sales tax any time soon. They're a county of 900,000 people, with only half of them living within Raleigh city limits. Wake County has a huge land area, and convincing half of voters that they'll be well served by transit is a hard task. Just look at areas like Cary, where a bus on the Maynard Loop still means you have to walk a mile from the back of your 'planned' community to make it to the bus stop.

I think Durham should go ahead and step forward with the transit tax. Even if we don't get to light rail any time soon, the increase in bus hours should go a lot farther toward luring riders of choice to DATA. 15 minute headways really are the break even point for getting wealthy commuters.


I think we should go ahead with our plans regardless of the surrounding counties. Orange WILL follow suit eventually. Wake...ugh...they'll come along after they've choked on their unsustainable growth and traffic.

The increased bus routes will help move the poor AND our aging population. The Express Routes in particular excite me.

Both transit routes connect the largest employment centers in Durham County. If we attract Transit-Oriented Development around the station sites, we'll be on our way towards sustainable population growth within the city.

In other words, we should make these investments for our future. Transit is a benefit for everyone...even drivers (less rush hour congestion). A half-penny sales tax is a small price to pay for increased access to jobs and retail centers.

We need to build a transportation system and NOT just a bunch of asphalt that has limited bandwidth.

Todd Patton

I agree Rob. I think it would be nuts for Durham to wait on our neighbors to get on board. I expect Orange County will eventually approve the transit tax, but if you judge Wake County by their school board, they may be a lost cause.

Improvements to Durham's bus system could leap ahead with funding from the transit tax. Reduced headways, expanded routes, improved bus stops with shelters and benches - these are all things that will make transit more successful, and that are needed whether trains are ever offered or not.

Now if Durham could just find some funding for sidewalks leading to those bus stops, we might really be on the path to success.

Bull City Rising

@Rob: I didn't see the City Council resolution as calling for delaying the vote, but for delaying the tax hike until another county goes along.

I actually think this makes a lot of sense. If neither Orange nor Wake goes this year, *and* if Durham approves the tax -- suddenly, we're greasing the wheels for other communities.

It's a lot easier to sell a sales tax vote in Orange or Wake if Durham, the geographic midpoint of the proposed system, has already bought in and if the voters in another county see that there are quick wins from immediate funding if they move forward.

Ideally I'd like to see that delayed-implementation sunset if neither county moves in 2-3 years; after all, we need to at least get moving with improved bus service, even if we don't have the funds to pay for rail without other counties' help.


Light rail taking so long? Why is it that European countries can build totally new infrastructures like light rail, high speed rail and new metro lines (including brand new rail lines, bridges and tunnels) in two or three years and we are told that this could take decades? Totally bizarre.


If gas prices become $8.17 a gallon like they are currently in Europe, I would guess this project could get off the ground quicker, since the median income to require mass transit would go up significantly.

Michael Bacon

If we're going to wait and see, I'd rather see half of the tax go into effect immediately to pay for bus improvements, and delay the other half until Orange and Wake are on board. The bus improvements shouldn't need to wait for the other counties, and they're what will do the most good right away.

Frank Hyman

I think now is the right time for referenda on both the transit tax and the school tax that Ruffin put on the table. My column in the Durham News on the topic

has already elicited an incredible letter to the editor that's worth watching for.


The whole argument that gas prices in Europe are so high is false economy-CAFE standards exist that allow for better fuel efficiency. An Opel Estate towed 4 guys with climbing gear for 2 weeks through the Alps and only required filling on the last day before return. We may pay $4/ga but how much less efficient are our cars? It is an embarrassment that we can't get efficient (underscored) mass transit within our lifetime in this area.

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