Civic, business groups plan Nov. 7 summit to promote transit's economic benefits

Posted by Bruce Siceloff on October 25, 2013 

— Triangle business executives and speakers from Charlotte and Minneapolis-St. Paul will make the economic case for Wake County’s transit plan during a Nov. 7 gathering in downtown Raleigh.

WakeUP Wake County and other groups are sponsoring the event, “Transit Makes $en$e,” from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Marbles Museum, 201 E. Hargett St. They’re hoping to send an enthusiastic message to the Wake County commissioners, who are planning to take up the Wake transit plan on Nov. 12 after having refused to discuss it for two years. Registration costs $50.

“We do not believe people are backing down from this transit plan,” said Karen Rindge, executive director of WakeUP Wake County, which lobbies for planned growth and public transportation improvements.

“We know there are many organizations like universities and hospitals, as well as the RTP, who all recognize that we must start moving forward with transit. That it ought to be regional and that it ought to be multi-modal. In other words it should not be just a bus and a bus rapid transit plan. It needs to have rail as well,” Rindge said Friday.

The Regional Transportation Alliance, a business group that lobbies for transportation improvements, recently warned that Wake’s transit plan would not deliver sufficient improvements in bus service, and it said the plans proposals for rush-hour commuter trains and electric-powered light rail trains were too expensive. The group called for development of an alternative plan built around bus rapid transit service – a hybrid breed of transportation that is gaining appeal in U.S. cities as less expensive and more flexible than street cars and light rail, but faster and more enjoyable than regular buses.

The Nov. 7 keynote speaker is Will Shroeer of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Chamber of Commerce. Also on the bill are Carolyn Flowers, CEO of Charlotte Area Transit, and Mitchell Silver, Raleigh planning director. Three Triangle executives will discuss their support for improving local and regional transit:

* Bob Geolas of the Research Triangle Park Foundation, whose master plan includes two planned stops on a Durham-to-Garner commuter train line;

* Jesse Lipson of Citrix, which is building offices for 450 technology workers near Raleigh’s planned Amtrak station; and

* Jim Anthony of Colliers International, a commercial real estate firm.

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