Bus Rapid Transit a bargain
Tammy Grubb has done a great job reporting the complex, controversial problems facing light-rail funding. Her story “Chapel Hill Bus-Rapid Transit Plan Expands, Triples in Cost” (CHN, Dec. 7) was also informative – but the alarmist headline was misleading and out of context.
The price tag for Chapel Hill’s Bus Rapid Transit has been known for some time, and at $105 million it’s a bargain, especially when compared to the Durham- Orange Light Rail (DOLRT) whose costs, now over $2 billion, have nearly doubled.
The Chapel Hill BRT costs are an order of magnitude less than DOLRT. That means that for every mile of DOLRT service, we can have 10 miles of BRT service on a dedicated bus corridor. That doesn’t count annual operating costs which are also lower for Chapel Hill BRT than for DOLRT.
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The real benefit is that the Chapel Hill BRT provides over eight miles of rapid service connecting Chapel Hill’s newly approved compact development centers in North Chapel Hill, Downtown, UNC and Obey Creek. Over time, BRT can be easily extended to Chatham Park and Hillsborough and seamlessly integrated with regional bus service.
By contrast, DOLRT starts at the center of campus, extends for three miles along N.C. 54 East, through sensitive wetlands and on to Durham. Given the latest “value engineering” efforts, the route now takes 42 minutes. That’s slower than BRT on the same route and double the time it takes to drive. There’s no service to Chapel Hill, Carrboro or Hillsborough, or to RTP or Wake County.
I don’t mean to complain – especially since the media has been surprisingly silent on this important topic. Roses to Ms. Grubb for keeping us informed on a topic which will shape our future for decades.
Headline was disservice
What political pressure was applied to the editors of the Chapel Hill News resulting in the exaggerated font size as well as content on the front-page headline on Wednesday, Dec. 7, “Bus-rapid transit plan expands, triples in estimated cost.”
No such enlarged headlines have been run on articles about exorbitant overruns in costs of the Durham Orange Light Rail Project. So it appears that the editors of either the Chapel Hill News and The News & Observer are expressing a political position related to the light-rail pan for Orange County.
And then at the top of the same front page, the article entitled “Duke affirms light-rail support.”
The combination (in headlines alone) carries a message.
Tammy Grubb does an excellent job of balanced reporting on various issues. The headline used for the piece on the bus rapid transit did not present a fair representation of the article.
The editors do a disservice to the community when they bias the news in this way.
Sheila D. Creth
Editor Mark Schultz responds: No pressure or intended bias. As the story reported, the Bus Rapid Transit Plan started at 7.3 miles and $24.5 million, plus another $7 million for buses, and has expanded to 8.2 miles and at least $97 million. And the font size? We used the same size for “The Nutcracker” story the week before.
Standing with El Centro
The Catholic Community of St. Thomas More joins with El Centro Latino and the Center for Employment and Leadership in condemning the Dec. 3 vandalism that occurred at the center (CHN, Dec. 11). We stand hand in hand with these two agencies as they seek to serve Latinos in the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Our Latino brothers and sisters are a strong and vibrant part of the local community, and we will continue to do all we can to welcome, serve and walk together with them.
The Rev. Scott E. McCue
An open letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan,
I am writing as a member of a faith community who recognizes how we treat the poor reflects the soul of our country. Medicare is a fundamental tool of economic security – a guarantee that seniors will not be denied health care just because they can’t afford it.
Do not cut, privatize or otherwise damage Medicare or Social Security. If anything, we should expand these programs – not cut them.
Please use your leadership to support all your constituents, leaving no one behind. No one.
Thank you for taking this request to heart and action. We rely on your integrity and leadership.
Mary U. Andrews
Laws protect society
There was one glaring omission from Mr. Vaden’s column “A case for restoring undocumented drivers’ licenses” (CHN, Nov. 30) – automobile insurance. You see, everything has a cost.
I would dare say most of that class would not carry insurance even if granted a license. So the rest of us are required to insure against that risk via insurance policy increases with uninsured motorist (UM) add-ons. Statistics from 2012 in an Insurance Research Council report estimate UM claims at $2.6 billion, up 75 percent from the previous decade.
We have laws for a reason. They are there to protect society. Vaden’s column suggests that law enforcement should not enforce the law and look the other way when stopping the undocumented. Why doesn’t he interview the many U.S. citizens whose family members have been killed by undocumented drivers? Ask Rev. Hanneman if he felt that might be “destructive to families.”
We already pay for the undocumenteds’ schooling via property taxes. They have free education. Does anyone every thank the tax payer for that unnecessary burden? No, we’re just supposed to feel guilty.
The article indicates an “anti-immigrant climate.” That is just weak and spun biased reporting. Don’t hide behind the phrase. Many of us are immigrants or children of immigrants. It’s illegal immigration we are not supporting. Not immigration. Enough is enough.