Tazra Mitchell: Transit, to compete

July 2, 2012 

Transit, to compete

Good governance? Fail. Faith in voters? Fail. Enhanced mobility? Fail. The Wake County Board of Commissioners' decision not to convene a public hearing on the transit plan demonstrates a failure of political leadership and forward thinking. Without the public hearing, as required by law, voters cannot set the transportation agenda via the referendum process – even though a recent poll shows 78 percent of voters want the opportunity to vote on the tax measure.

Voters want to weigh in on this measure because transportation policy is essential to keeping Wake County on a path to long-term prosperity. Wake may lose its competitive edge if it falls further behind Durham and Orange counties, which are already planning for expanded transit options. The lack of transit options affects the quality of life of all residents, especially low-income workers.

Research shows the average low-income resident in the Raleigh-Cary metro area can access only 39 percent of the region’s jobs by transit. The transit plan would quickly double bus service and increase job access considerably. It is time for Wake County commissioners to practice good governance and demonstrate their faith in the voters by putting the transit referendum on the ballot this November.

Tazra Mitchell

Public Policy Fellow, N.C. Budget & Tax Center

Raleigh

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