2016 Transit Tax Passes Along Proposed Bus Lines

Voter Distribution of 2016 Transit Tax Referndum

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I posted this up on Twitter earlier but wanted to put it here on the blog for posterity. If you don’t know already, the transit tax passed in yesterday’s election and the graphic above shows the precincts that voted for and against it. You can clearly see that areas receiving expanded bus service were pro-tax versus areas that were not.

Maybe a little lack of support along the western edge of 540. I wonder if the presence of tolls in that area played a role in voters’ decisions?

At the same time, most of the outlying precincts in Wake were not horribly against the transit tax, only opposing by smaller margins. (some exceptions exist though)

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  1. Forgetting for a moment political tendencies of areas, I’m always amazed that people who don’t, themselves, use transit, still benefit from it. Driving through a metro area where people can get around without a car, means there is more room for your car.

  2. I meant to say that those people *don’t realize thatthey benefit. Forgive me…like many of you I haven’t slept or been able to focus today…

  3. I live in the outlying area that voted against the tax increase. I am not necessarily upset by the passing of the tax because I like the idea of improved transportation measures. As Mark noted, it does help to alleviate our transit burdens even if we don’t get to use mass transit. However, the toll road did play a factor in my voting no.

    As beautiful as the Triangle Expressway is, it troubles me to see them spare no expense when it comes to the road. They are already redoing the sharp curved exit ramp in Holly Springs due to poor planning. They have a ton of landscaping along the highway that must have cost a fortune, not to mention the expensive upkeep. As a side note, the amount of state troopers setting up speed traps compared to other roads is rather interesting. It is an expensive road to travel, but I use it because it is very convenient. The problem is, more people should be using it. Do you think eliminating the toll would help to offset the traffic on 40? What would be the cost difference between this and putting in a new rail line? Maybe this study was done, but if they did, they did a poor job informing the public about it.

    Why not impose impact fees to some of these developers with deep pockets? They build a slew of neighborhoods in the suburban areas, make a ton of money and move onto the next neighborhood. It leaves current citizens picking up the burden of improving infrastructure and schools. We always end up behind the 8-ball with rapid growth. I would have been more inclined to vote yes if some of these issues would have been considered, resulting in a smaller sales tax increase. Maybe this I’m not using sound reasoning but thought I would offer my thoughts since I’m in an outlying region of Wake County.

  4. Keith,

    I understand where you’re coming from, I grew up in an outlying Wake town, but I think you’re confusing two different issues. The primary purpose of the transit tax isn’t really to alleviate traffic on I-40 or any other highway in the immediate future. The motivation is to develop a transit system that encourages density over time. As we all know, highway construction, be they toll roads or not, encourage outward expansion, and rarely reduce traffic in the long run. If we could make the Triangle Expressway a free highway, it would likely reduce congestion for a few years, but it would exacerbate, rather than address, the root cause of major traffic issues. Of course, to some extent traffic will always get worse as population grows, but the Triangle has some of the worst traffic in the country when you adjust for population, largely because of sprawl.

  5. @Keith. Thanks for your perspective. Certainly you have some valid points and I can see where someone with your experiences might vote no. When I think of 540 being tolled, I always think back to I-95 through Richmond years and years ago. It used to be tolled but it no longer is. I’d hope for a similar situation on 540 over time. It might just be a pipe dream but one can hope.
    As for alleviating traffic on I-40, that will come when its western section is connected to 40 south of Raleigh. But, as we all know, 540 to 40@US70 is still more than ten years from reality. And, when it is completed, it will only push the problem to another pinch point where the Triangle expressway meets 40 in RTP. It would seem to me that a real bypass for thru-traffic on 40 would have to terminate beyond 15-501 in western Durham or eastern Orange County but good luck with that! On top of all of this is the understanding that we can’t build our way out of traffic nightmares. More freeways just result in more development and more cars; this is especially true when the strategy is implemented in a rapidly growing area like the Triangle.
    We have to take some cars off the road in order to continue to grow while not choking ourselves to death in traffic and it has to start somewhere. I am happy that it’s finally starting with the passing of the transit tax.

  6. I’m happy that the transit tax passed. As the planning process ramps up in the coming years it will be important to create a high quality system — not one that cuts corners. A well implemented transit plan will set the stage for development and expansion many decades into the future.

    I won’t comment on tolls, because I might not stop typing. :)

  7. @CX, Your tolls comment gave me a good laugh.

    Sticking with the plan, I’m most excited about the BRT aspect. The Healthline in Cleveland is a really nice bus and I could see development really picking up along something similar in Wake. The two most promising routes initially are Western Blvd and Wilmington St. There’s a lot of underdeveloped land and not as many “established” neighborhoods along the line, and both are already higher capacity roads. Long term I think the really big potential is between downtown and Triangle Town Center, with lots of medium-density development along Capital and transitioning to higher density south of Wade Ave. Right now (at least from the mockups) it looks like the BRT on Capital won’t even reach 440, which is disappointing. The commuter rail should really be the last part implemented because its success is contingent on a higher density RTP and that plan hasn’t gotten off the ground yet.

  8. I personally hope we put more money towards rail or another alternative to more buses. Buses may be good on the highway (although take up another lane which could be used for cars) – but once they come into downtown, I think they are more of a nuisance. We don’t have enough room for cars, bikes, people and large buses. They sometimes take up a lane and a half and stop in front of you constantly backing up traffic. I understand they are important and I think the amount we have is great – but putting more money into them I believe is a mistake. I hope we come up with an alternative by using more rail or something else. This is something Raleigh is definitely lacking and as it continues to grow.. will suffer if something is not put in place.

    Also – has anyone heard of any sort of plan for the cross walks coming from the bus station across Wilmington and across S Blount Streets. I am always so worried someone will get hit everytime I go through that area. There is no stop light at these cross walks and people just walk out in front of cars all the time. I wish they would take it out and force people to go 30 yards to the stop light. I think that is the safest option vs spending the money for a people bridge.

  9. Wake County had to make buses the highest profile primarily due to all the suburban “anti-everything” contingent. That crowd loves to ‘hate’ on rail. Rail IS a component and my prediction is Rail will become a much bigger component now that the referendum has passed. It’s a whole lot easier to ‘revise the transit plan’ now and add rail, for instance, and get past the crowd that constantly think they know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.

  10. Keith, as a 40 something who has lived here since I was a young teenager, I have a vague memory of an impact fee discussion that the Realtors and Developers had shot down on arrival. I don’t quite remember how far along that discussion got, but it was far enough such that the nays were pouring significant resources into killing it. I want to say like a several thousand dollar fee proposed by the county was beaten down to a couple of hundred bucks or so…..$500 rings a bell. Naturally it was targeted at schools and roads primarily with fire and police likely to receive some too. Anyway…there you have my aging memory’s perspective…

  11. steve, the bus priority measures for the Capital BRT line will only extend to Wake Forest Rd (at least in the first 10 years), but it will still have high-frequency service all the way out to Triangle Town Center.

    The LRT line that was part of the past transit plan followed Atlantic Ave instead of Capital Blvd. That was mostly because of the existing rail corridor. But maybe 10 years down the line, it would still make sense to extend the BRT up Atlantic instead of Capital – it’s not as much of a hazard for pedestrians, and it might be easier to get bus lanes since it’s a City street and not a U.S. highway. It also looks like it might be easier to redevelop, but I’m not an expert on development.

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