RALEIGH — Lighting up while waiting for the bus could soon get you fined.
The city plans to ban smoking at CAT transit centers and major bus stops, part of an effort to improve public health and curb littering at city facilities.
CAT administrators considered a broader approach that would have banned smoking at all city bus stops, even those with just a sign and bench. But the Raleigh Transit Authority settled on a policy geared toward busy areas where people congregate.
By this fall, it will be illegal to smoke in downtown’s Moore Square Station; transit stops at Triangle Town Center and Crabtree Valley Mall; and at the south Raleigh bus transfer area at Wilmington Street and Pecan Road.
The ban applies within 25 feet of boarding locations.
For those yearning for a quick drag before their bus arrives, the city plans to set up designated smoking areas at Moore Square Station.
“We’re not saying no smoking in Moore Square,” said David Eatman, the city’s transit administrator. “We’re just talking about where people actually board the buses.”
A visit to the Moore Square facility last week turned up mixed opinions among bus riders. As long as the city provides a designated area to light up, smoker Bianca Brewington, 21, said she’s OK with a ban.
“We’re only smoking to pass the time until the next bus comes,” Brewington said.
Nonsmoker Stephanie Green, 38, said smoking isn’t a big problem because Moore Square is an open-air space.
“If they’re not blowing smoke in my direction, it doesn’t bother me,” she said. “Most of the people are considerate. Occasionally, they’ll ask, ‘Does it bother you?’ ”
The City Council endorsed the concept of a ban last week, a step that allows the city attorney’s office to draw up official language.
This isn’t new territory for Raleigh.
In 2011, the city banned lighting up in all public parks and greenways except Nash and Moore squares downtown, joining a growing list of communities worried about the dangers of secondhand smoke.
A ban involving transit centers is overdue, said Roger Kosak, an RTA member who prodded the city to act.
“The question in my mind was, ‘Why wasn’t it there in the first place?’ ” he said. “You go to these other cities like Washington, D.C., and New York, even Paris where they really smoke, and you can’t smoke in their stations.”
Violators will get warnings during a rollout phase. After that, police or CAT security officers could issue citations similar to parking tickets.
Part of the goal is to improve the look and feel of Moore Square Station, a dark, dingy facility that is an eyesore next to some of Raleigh’s newest restaurants and bars.
Built in 1988, the center is slated for a $3.5 million makeover to widen passenger platforms, add a third bus lane, improve lighting and restrooms, and add a bigger information booth. The project isn’t budgeted until 2014.
“When it’s through, we want to have a really neat, clean place,” Kosak said.