Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker gave a regional, three-county emphasis to his push for public transit today when he announced plans to run for re-election.
Meeker last year spearheaded action on a 10-year Wake County plan to beef up bus service and lay tracks for light-rail trains. That would give Wake the option to move on its own if Durham and Orange counties can't agree on priorities and funding for regional transit.
But when he cited transit as one of his top three campaign priorities today, he took the Three Musketeers approach: All for one and one for all.
"We simply need to have good regional transit. Raleigh is now one of the 50 biggest cities in the country. We don’t have adequate public transportation. We need to get moving forward. If we’re going to be successful in the years and decades ahead, we simply have to have better transit. That’s going to require all of us, all three counties, to work together," Meeker said.
The General Assembly appears likely this year to approve transit legislation that would give Triangle counties the option for a half-cent sales tax to pay for trains and buses, if approved by voters in a referendum. Meeker said he thought Wake could be ready to put the issue on the October ballot this year, but he'd rather wait until the rest of the region is ready, too.
"What we're hearing from Durham and Orange counties is that it may well be 2010 before we're all ready in terms of having plans and ready to go to the public ...," he said.
"I would favor all of us doing it together. This really is a regional market in terms of how people think about it. The plan really only makes sense if all three counties move forward."