Coble gives an inch on Wake transit

July 14, 2014 

Here’s the first question for a certain Wake County commissioner: Who are you and what have you done with Paul Coble?

For three years now, the conservative Republican Coble has stood squarely in the path of a transit tax to bolster bus and rail transit in Wake County.

Now, however, with commissioners slated to talk about transit in a work session July 21, Coble is talking about transit options, studying improved bus service and considering possibly even putting transit issues on the ballot next year.

Coble is one of those Republican commissioners who have resisted the idea of putting a small transit tax before the voters, even though that would enable Wake to work with Orange and Durham counties, which have passed transit taxes, on commuter rail and light-rail options.

Coble and other Republicans have long argued that the area lacks the density to support a light-rail system. That’s a strange notion indeed. The idea of bolstering transit options, including better bus service, is to get ahead of the need, not try to catch up to it.

But this is the same commissioner who helped put together a transit-related meeting last winter that stacked the deck against options such as commuter rail and light rail

Elections, however, have a way of putting a little cream in the coffee. It happens that Coble is up for re-election, and his opponent, Democrat John Burns, supports investing in more transit options. The same is true of Coble’s Republican mate on the board, Joe Bryan, who has a tough challenge from Democrat Sig Hutchinson, also a transit advocate.

So if we see the Republican commissioners on the greenways, in those bicycle tights with all the fancy markings, we’ll know a conversion is complete.

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