The Wake County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the Wake County Transit plan
in its meeting on Monday afternoon, placing it on the November ballot.
If the plan is approved by voters, the county will build a commuter rail system stretching from Garner to Durham, exponentially increase bus service throughout the county, and help provide funding for Wake County towns to increase public transportation. “If Fuquay-Varina wanted to build a circulator," Wake County planning director Tim Maloney said, "this program would help build that with 50 percent funds.”
Maloney said that the county has engaged and educated the public on the plan, holding over 255 events. “Without a doubt," he said, "public input has been a key element throughout this effort."
If approved, the plan would be paid for through a new half-cent local sales tax, a $7 county vehicle registration fee, and a $3 hike (from $5 to $8) in the regional registration fee, an existing 5 percent vehicle rental tax, and fare box revenue.
Representatives from Cisco Systems, Quintiles, the Sierra Club, the NC Justice Center, and various companies and organizations overwhelmingly spoke in support of the plan. Quintiles senior director of community relations Steve Brechbiel said that while Quintiles is based in Durham, a majority of its employees are based in Wake County, making expanded service "vital for our future success."
Anne Richards of Raleigh, who said she’s been a supporter of transit, said that this was a "day long in the making," while supporters touted the plan's strengths on helping the county's poor and
“I associate great transit access, plus biking and walk, with personal freedom of the highest order," Richards said. "It's an American right."
A small minority of speakers opposed to the plan questioned how it would affect Raleigh and Wake County's poor. Activist Octavia Rainey said that the plan would add to gentrification and that Raleigh's low-income Black residents weren't adequately consulted on the plan, while Raleighite Joey Stansbury said the transit plan would "add to an ever-increasing debt burden."
"I would encourage you to go to Southeast Raleigh, or Poole Rd.," Stansbury said, "and talk to individuals about what benefit they’ll get out of this, and the cost."
In the end, however, the plan passed unanimously to cheers and applause from the crowd. "It's a big day," Wake County Commissioner John Burns told the INDY
after the vote. "There were at least four of us for whom this was number one or number two on the list of things we wanted to do."
"Now comes the hard work," Burns continued, "because now we have to get it passed, and we have to get it built. But this is an exciting day because it's the culmination of many, many years of effort, so we're happy."
The resolution is below, and you can view the presentation Maloney gave to the Board of Commissioners here